Monday, December 13, 2010

not dead, but starting to wish

computer has been fucked for several days

using John's new computer, hate the keyboard, couldn't find notes in msword all day

have a rush job, suddenly behind on everything else


Friday, December 03, 2010

Busy, busy

Today I spent the first part of the day running errands. Xmas is just around the corner, you know, plus I needed to pick up some medicine, do some insurance stuff, buy some shampoo--you know, errands. I was mostly successful, so that was nice. I came home tired but with a feeling of accomplishment.

When John went to clean the stairwell this afternoon, he realized that the bucket has been sitting out on the balcony, in the sub-zero temperatures, ever since we had our shower repaired. Sitting full of water. He thought it was frozen solid, but it turned out only the sides and top 2 inches were frozen. So now there is an enormous ice cube (or partial cube) melting in the bathtub.

Hannah has been watching the adventures of Chad Vader on Youtube. She got a Star Wars (Clone Wars) advents calendar this year, even though it has no chocolate in it, just cheap plastic toys. She has been bitching about the makers' sloppy attention to detail vis-a-vis light saber colors, etc, yet happily drags the bits of plastic around with her the whole day at school.

After the recent round of antibiotics, I have been feeling great energy-wise, but have recently started having digestive discomfort. I read that is pretty common until you build the flora in your gut back up. Since I originally came by my intestinal flora by passing through my mother's birth canal, and I don't think I'll manage it again that way, I have been drinking priobiotic yoghurt drinks, but I probably need to be drinking them more often. I asked John if he would share his flora with me by taking bites off my food.

I need flora, any flora!

John did not seem disposed to help me, for some reason. So I'll just have to do it on my own. Plus, I picked up the proton pump inhibitor my doctor prescribed me. That keeps you from making too much stomach acid, so I'll see if that helps, too.

And now I am off to watch the first movie from the Netflix-type service John set us up with.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Many returns of the day!

Happy Birthday to my seestor Kee! May your family and your ulcer be well-behaved. *smooch!*

Disaster strikes!

In a small way. Hannah cooked us a delicious spaghetti dinner on Monday. She put the noodles on the table. She put the sauce on the table. She went to close the leftover container of tomato sauce and managed to knock it off the counter, sending the plastic lid onto the hot burner and sauce down me, her, and the length of our galley kitchen. Luckily, John was making salad behind her, so he avoided getting splattered. Hannah and I had to strip off and soak our clothes before sitting down to eat.

The next day, I put the wet clothes in the washing machine on the spin cycle before washing them (otherwise it gets unbalanced), and in the 10 minutes they were spinning, I splattered my sweater with ketchup. (My pants, too, a little, but I didn't notice until later.) So that got rinsed and thrown in with the other bespattered clothing.

Speaking of laundry, I may have to murder our cats. They are inveterate pukers (one is long-haired, and hairballs are now the bane of my existence), but when I found cat puke in one of my shoes recently, that was the last straw. I don't mind them puking on the rag rugs (which is part of the reason I bought them), because those can go into the machine, or on tile, which is easy to clean, but when they start puking on other things, then I get hacked off. I've started threatening to turn Eliza into a muff after she dies.

I finally had a chance to pick up all the leaves that had fallen off my citrus plant. It had dropped over 50 leaves in about a week. I didn't even think it had 50 leaves on it. It is looking rather threadbare at the moment, but the poinsettia is looking good.

This year, I planted a slightly different variety of flowering plants in my window boxes on the downstairs balcony. There was still some statice and lobelia alive at Thanksgiving, so Hannah made a tiny bouquet out of them for the table. When I planted the carnations, I didn't realize they only bloom in the second year. The poor things are partially covered in snow at the moment. I have no idea if I should move them, cover them, or what, but if they survive this winter and my half-assed care, they will be the hardiest flowers I've ever had.

And it is snowing again. I need to return the key to the people I was catsitting for, but I really don't want to travel around in the snow if I can avoid it. Maybe I can take it by tomorrow when I am already going to be out and about (if I manage it).

-Nee in Germany has petty complaints, in the larger scheme of things

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The freelance life's for me

I am finishing up a freelance translating job that is pretty big--an 84-page (photo-heavy, it is true) promotional piece for the nearby university hospital. This is after finishing a different promotional piece for them that was also 84 pages long, plus plenty of photos. Now I've been asked to give an estimate for another translation from one of the hospital's departments. So I guess they liked my original translation enough to pass my name on.

When I am wrapping up a project, I start to get a slight panicky feeling, in case the work dries up. But so far, that hasn't happened. Small jobs pop up here and there, during and between bigger jobs, and the bigger jobs show up fairly regularly. So I guess I shouldn't give in to despair about the irregular nature of the job.

Editing is my real love, my vocation, but translating is starting to grow on me as well. At first, I was worried that my German wasn't up to snuff, but I didn't take into account the fact that I am as stubborn as a terrier when it comes to figuring things out. I might not know what a certain term means, or have seen a certain expression, but I will take the time to look it up in several places and tease out the meaning, and then take the time to look up the context in English and figure out how it is talked about there. I love looking things up, so this is rather up my alley. Plus, the proof of the pudding is in the English, not the German, and I can totally rock the English.

I am not rolling in dough with this job (at least, not yet), but it has kept us from being pinched when things like John's dental bill or our car repairs have come up. All in all, I am glad I have started doing it.

-Nee in Germany works in her jammies part of the day

Monday, November 29, 2010

Free from the tyranny of the cat!

Well, just the cat I have been sitting. Her owners should be back from a delightful snorkeling vacation in Egypt later today, and boy, will they get a shock. It has been snowing since the day after they left. We got a break yesterday, and the sun even came out in the afternoon, but it has been snowing non-stop since after Hannah left for school this morning.

Except for making the daily run to feed the cat and translating, I haven't been up to much. It was John's turn to wash the dishes and do the grocery shopping over the weekend, so I didn't even have to do any of that. I spent most of the weekend curled up in the armchair, powering through the last phase of a sewing project. The rest of the week's worth of evenings should see it done. Then I already have another project in mind--a friend's daughter is going to have a baby in February, and a crocheted baby blanket should keep me out of trouble for another month or so.

Poinsettia watch 2010: I added a second plastic bag at night (an IKEA shopping bag), and the pink leaves are getting even darker. I don't know if it'll make it all the way to red (or if this plant was even red when I bought it), but it is still an encouraging development.

-Nee in Germany has an unobstructed view of the snowing, snowing, snowing...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Let it snow

When Hannah left for school at 6:40 this morning, the streets were wet and it was drizzling, but by the time I left for my catsitting duties at 8:25, snow was falling fairly heavily (large flakes, falling at an angle so even an umbrella doesn't help 100% to keep them off you). I walked home through wet, slushy snow. At least it will disappear from the streets quickly--I don't have to get back out in it, but I have to think about John on his bike and Hannah on the bus later this afternoon.

The cat lives up toward the top edge of the valley, and the view of the snowy village below was really beautiful this morning. I wish I had a working camera to capture a bush covered in little yellow flowers along its side with a thick layer of snow on top, or pink roses, fully blown and draped in ice and snow. The warm, spring-like weather we had earlier in the month has not done the foliage any favors now that it is snowing.

Judging by this webcam, though, it is not that snowy down in town, just toward the top of the castle hill. We often get more snow up here than they do down there, and the village even above us often looks like a winter wonderland while we only have a light dusting of snow.

I have reached the tipping point in my current sewing project, and I'm finding it hard to get my brain engaged with translating instead of sewing. Both should be completed within the next week, though, barring a disaster.

-Nee in Germany likes walking on snow, thereby destroying it

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Home stretch

Just 2 more doses! Yesterday I bought a bunch of probiotic yoghurt to start chugging once I am done. I am thinking that after "eradication therapy", which sounds like scorched-earth warfare on my innards, I am going to need to jump start things.

I am getting rather tired of the incessant low-level nausea, the taste and sensation in my mouth of having just licked a whole xmas-list's worth of envelopes, and waking up 3 times a night and not even having to pee. Plus the anxiety over swallowing the larger pills without choking. When I feel nausea, I start stuffing myself, but then I feel overfull PLUS the nausea. I can't imagine suffering through it for a long time, like during chemotherapy. So I am telling myself not to be such a wiener.

[Had to take a quick break to de-escalate a situation with the cats in the next room. It sounded like one might be ripping the other's head off, but when I walked in, they were sitting about 2 feet apart looking at each other. Whatever.]

I am already feeling like I have a lot more energy. Part of that may just be psychological since I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere with all this medical stuff, but part of it might be because I stopped taking the beta blockers. I've been checking my pulse in the morning right after I wake up, and it has consistently been 70 beats per minute, so I think going off them is probably ok. Even after a whirlwind weekend of turkey day baking and cleaning, I felt regular tired, not I-have-to-sit-down-in-the-middle-of-what-I'm-doing tired.

This morning has been almost as busy as yesterday already. Everything went basically the same up to the catsitting duties, then I took the car into the shop for a few small repairs and its biennial (every 2 years) inspection. Then I got to walk home in the rain. Well, more of a heavy drizzle at that point. (By the time John left for work, we were getting rain mixed with wet snow. Yuck.) I could have taken the bus, but I need to get a little exercise to start building myself back up. You can't sit on your ass, babying yourself for a couple of months without getting a bit out of shape, you know. Tomorrow morning I'll take the bus all the way up to the cat, but I'll walk home. Depending on when the car is ready, I may be doing it more than once.

Luckily for me, I was wearing my GoreTex shoes and my raincoat over my winter coat as I walked home in the rain. When I bought the shoes, I showed them off to John, who for some reason had it in his head that I had bought sexy shoes and was disappointed when it turned out that I had bought boys' all-weather shoes. When have I *ever* bought sexy shoes? If I took a quiz that told me what kind of shoe I would be (sounds like something you'd find on Blog Things), I'd be orthopedic, I'm sure.

The pinkination of the poinsettia seems to be coming along smashingly at this point. The citrus decided to make a liar out of me and has started dropping leaves again, but it has also started shooting upward in several places, so I'll just have to wait for spring to see what happens under normal growing conditions.

My two Thanksgiving cactuses have been blooming for a few weeks now. I think the pink one is running out of steam, but the bigger white one still has lots of buds on it. They have bright, interesting flowers, but I almost enjoy picking off the wilted flowers as much as looking at the fresh ones. Unfortunately, they drop yellow pollen on everything under them, including my shirt sleeve while picking off dead blooms. Sorry, I'm not the one you're looking for.

-Nee in Germany hasn't murdered any plants recently

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

No Peace for the Wicked

Yesterday it was the sound of running water, today it is a high-pressure hose across the street. About a month ago, some genius decided to tag a stone wall with some anatomically questionable penises (if I were younger, it might influence my decision to let one near me). Now someone has come out to spray them off the stone.

It's already been a busy morning. Since John was focussed on turkey day foods and American junk food on Saturday (and our fridge is so small), I needed to go get groceries for the rest of the week. I am also catsitting this week, so I got up, took my meds, got in the shower, ate breakfast once the post-med hour was up, drove over to tend the cat, drove to my normal 2 stores, and came home. I managed to score some excellent Xmas wrapping paper (you know I love me some gift wrap) and a couple of things to put under the tree for Hannah, oh! and a kit for a gingerbread witch house, which seems to be traditional at the holidays for some reason. Hansel and Gretel and all that, I guess.

Yesterday I managed to translate almost 4 pages, even after getting a late start in the morning, so I am hoping that today will be equally promising, work-wise.

-Nee in Germany can't decide if tagging with more realistic penises would have been acceptable

Monday, November 22, 2010

This and That

Our shower is leaking and the repairman won't be here until 4. I finally put a rolled up towel against the bottom of the door and closed the door to my office to try to block out the noise, but such loud tinkling of water cannot be contained. Between the sound of running water, the extra water I am drinking, the antibiotics, and yesterday's turkey dinner (more on that below), I have spent an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom today.

We celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday. We could have waited until the weekend following, but the guests we had invited had a scheduling conflict due to child custody arrangements, so we moved it up. John and I both scoured the local shops for a large turkey and only came up with a frozen baby turkey that weighed about 9 pounds (not enough for 6 people) or a freshly butchered, large turkey for 50 Euros. Ouch! John has connections at the university, and she and her husband were able to take him and Hannah along to the local military installation, where they were able to gorge themselves on American fast food and drown in the junk food offerings of the commissary. And buy a big turkey, among the bags and bags of junk food they carried home. I started cleaning and baking on Saturday, and I was very glad to finally put my feet up yesterday evening after our guests were gone. All in all, it was a success.

Now it is time to concentrate on the next big event--forcing my poinsettia to bloom. I brought it and my citrus plant indoors a few weeks ago, and they both immediately started dropping leaves. Oh, no! But now they seem to have stabilized. The citrus has new leaves, and the new growth on the poinsettia is turning a nice shade of mid- to dark pink. I'm having to be extra vigilant about keeping the door to the sunroom (aka my office) closed because I suspect the cats had been chewing on the poinsettia's lower leaves, hence the extra pukiness after they were brought inside, and I know for a fact that one of them will chew on the plastic garbage bag covering it overnight if given the chance. Sadly, my ability to post pictures of the glory of a forced poinsettia is severely hampered by our dead digital camera (there is a workaround, but I am lazy), so you are spared my efforts at vegatative photography.

-Nee in Germany is dreaming of a red-poinsettia'ed Xmas

Friday, November 19, 2010

Now we're getting somewhere

(Copied in part from my email to my family, to save time.)

Finally got the results from the gastroenterologist: gastritis caused by h. pylori, plus a weak valve at the top of the stomach. So I will be going on a week of antibiotics (amoxicillin, clarithromycin, and pantoprazol (actually a proton pump inhibitor), handily packaged together as a "ZacPac") to eradicate the h. pylori. The gastro doc recommended that treatment because of the family history of stomach cancer (you have a 6 times higher chance of getting stomach cancer if you've had h. pylori, I just read). I also read that pretty much any symptom between the nipples and the belly button can be attributed to this type of gastritis, so I'll just have to wait and see how I feel after the treatment.

So, there is no reason to believe I will be keeling over any time soon.

I've only taken 6 pills so far (the regimine is one each of the above, mornings and evenings), and I've already got a delightful rash on the back of my arm, but I doctored it with some lotion and will keep an eye out for any other locations.

Now I can get back to the real purpose of this blog, boring you all with extended descriptions of my efforts in indoor gardening, which I will resume after work today.

-Nee in Germany is on the road to recovery, possibly via diarrhea-ville

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Someday, my results will come...

Talked to the gastroenterologist's office just now. The doctor is reviewing the results and will fax them to my g.p. first thing in the morning. So I should be able to call in the morning and get an appointment. Hell, I'll call now and get an appointment for later tomorrow morning. Ka-ching!

ETA: appointment for 11:30 Thursday morning.

I'm much calmer now

So I spent the hour from 5 to 6 pm last night dialing the gastroenterologist's number every 30 seconds or so and didn't manage to get through. I was about 50 flavors of pissed afterward, and I think John thought I was going to give myself a stroke.

In the meanwhile, I have been tracking down information on my symptoms, and I will go out on a limb and make a self-diagnosis of non-acidic laryngopharyngeal reflux, caused by a malfunctioning sphincter or 2. I may end up being way off base on this, but at least I have given myself a bit of relief from thinking I might (possibly, probably not) keel over while waiting for stupid test results. If reflux is causing my esophagus to spasm, that could be the chest weirdness I've been feeling, and the mild breathing problems I've been having could also be caused by bile or whatever hanging around in my tubes.

We'll see, but I think just calming myself down is going to help with the severity of some of the symptoms, at least. I'll keep everyone posted...

-Nee in Germany spends a lot of time clearing her throat

Monday, November 15, 2010

Seriously hacked off

Just got off the phone with the g.p.'s office. Still no results. She asked when I had been to the gastroenterologist. Last Monday. Oh, it usually takes *3 weeks* to get results. Wha?! The receptionist at the gastroenterologist said middle to end of *that* week. I'm pretty sure John heard that, too, so it wasn't just me being high. So I am going to try the special call-in hour this evening at the gastroenterologist and see if I can get some more info. grrr...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Busy, busy

Yesterday I went to the grocery store, or rather, 2 stores, which went off with one big hitch--my debit card wouldn't work at the 2nd store. After I had gotten out 20 bucks, printed a bank statement, and bought groceries at the first store *with the same card*. Annoying. So I had to run down the street and get cash, come back, and pay for my groceries, which were sitting in the cart at the end of the check-out lane the whole time. And since that jolt of adrenaline, I've felt pretty good.

Today, I spent a good chunk of the day finishing up the dishes and battling meal moths, again, but in the spice cabinet this time. Also annoying, but I got the cabinet thoroughly cleaned out and sanitized, so I'm hoping we don't have another outbreak.

Now I am going to hang around with Hannah watching tv.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I called the g.p. yesterday and today, and no results have come in yet. So I decided to google the gastroenterologist who did the endoscopy to see if there were any tips on how long I would have to wait, and there was a whole slew of info on the site. Now I am annoyed that 1. when I made the appointment by phone, no one said, oh, by the way, check out our web site while you wait for 4 weeks, and 2. it didn't occur to me until now. Extra annoyance: there is a phone-in consultation available to ask for your results, but only Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 5-6 pm. If I had known that *yesterday*, I could have called. Now I have to wait until Monday for *somebody* to have some results, either the g.p. or the specialist.

So annoyed.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Probulation complete!

So yesterday I had the upper GI probe. I have no idea how it went, because the sedative basically knocked me out. I assume I was only about 97% unconscious, though, because I woke up in the next room in a comfy lounge chair, and I am guessing I got there partially under my own power.

What weirded me out last night was the realization that I probably was able to cooperate with the doctors *in German* in a semi-conscious state. At least I am spared the embarassment if that wasn't the case, because I don't remember anything after drinking something that tasted like banana + cat food and getting a shot. I have a hazy recollection of being asked to hold something in my mouth and it subsequently falling back out, and that's it.

Even when I had my wisdom teeth out and had laughing gas, I wasn't fully out of it, although I was pretty high. But I was aware of them tugging around in my mouth. That was the last time I had a major medical intervention requiring chemical assistance. Now I am wishing I had been given a sedative when I got my IUD inserted.

Sleepy time aside, I felt pretty ok when John got me home, but later, once the deadening spray had worn off, I had a couple of sore spots in my throat, so I am wondering if they took any tissue samples. I got to laughing at my current Terry Pratchett novel last night, and that did not feel good at all, but things feel better this morning.

I should be able to get the results from my doc at the end of the week, so I'll update once I know something.

--Nee in Germany is glad she didn't see any tubes anywhere at the doctor's office

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Back Home

Our trip to Switzerland went off well. We didn't have any problems traveling, except for indecision on what kinds of snacks to buy en route. The train is not the cheapest option, but it is not that much more expensive than gas and toll fees and parking fees if we were to drive. Plus, it is WAY less stressful. Navigating on the German/Swiss highway systems is not that difficult, but there are always little surprises lurking, plus the famous German traffic jam (Stau). We left home on the first day of the fall holidays in our state, and the train was full enough; I can imagine what the roads must have looked like. So we saved ourselves a lot of frustration with the train.

You also get a better view of the scenery from the train compared to the highway. Of course, when I pointed that out to John en route, we immediately went into a tunnel. Talk about unfortunate timing. But we didn't spend too much time in tunnels. We did get to see the Rhine Falls from up close, though. When we went to Italy a couple of years ago, we stopped there and climbed down to them, but on the other side. Either way, the view was spectacular.

When we got to Baden, our friends met us and showed us around a bit. There was a way cool playground tucked under a tall bridge. Looking at it from an American perspective, I could imagine it being a lodestone for lawsuits, but from the perspective of someone who's lived in Germany for a while, it was cool but not out of the common way. The town reminded me a lot of Heidelberg, on a slightly smaller scale. There are thermal springs there (hence the name, "bath"), and John and I drank some of the water. It tastes like the liquid inside the shell of a freshly boiled egg. Not something you'd want to drink a lot of, so you'd be sure to get well quickly, if you were drinking it for the health benefits.

Then we headed for their village a little ways outside Baden. We had delicious a Indian dinner, sent the kids off to bed, then stayed up chatting until about midnight. It was nice to visit with friends from back in the day in Austin.

The next morning, I realized I had neglected to pack a change of pants. I could have sworn I had folded them with the rest of my clothes, so I assumed I had just not managed to grab the bottom item in the stack of clothes slated for the suitcase. I imagined I would get home and find a giant pile of cat hair on my cords because they had been lying on the bed unattended for 3 days. Turns out, they were still in the bottom of the laundry basket full of clean clothes. I had gone over my mental list so many times, I had just imagined myself folding the pants. D'oh!

At 6 that evening, we were descended upon by a swarm of little kids. Karen (a Brit married to an American) had put up a sign in their apartment building warning the residents that they would be visited by marauding children in search of sweets and had arranged to have children of their acquaintance from the building, the kindergarten, and the playgroup come by so they could trick-or-treat in a pack. Hannah had bought some black fairy wings* and sparkly make-up and dressed up as a Goth butterfly fairy. We also had a pirate princess, a regular pirate, a regular princess, a teeny teddy bear, a wizard (who went around roaring like a dinosaur--he wasn't too sure about things), and a cat. Hannah has determined that the key to getting a good haul (either at Halloween or Mardi Gras) is to have a cute, tiny kid with you so you can siphon off the bulk of their candy. They won't know the difference.

*The wings were decorated along the top edge with black fur and silver tinsel and came with a headband topped with a circle on a stick (also covered in black fur and silver tinsel), making us joke that next year she can use it to dress up as a Goth Teletubby.

Then the next morning, but not too early, we headed back home. Since we got to the train station early, we had time for a cappucino and to buy some lunch to take with us. John managed to find chips that have the texture of Funions but are bacon flavored. Riiiight... Then when we got back to Heidelberg, John got approached by an old lady while I was busy buying bus tickets from the machine. She was offering to sell him a ticket that would be good for the rest of the day, but that she didn't need any more. All for 2 Euros (a one-use ticket for 90 minutes is 1.90). When we took a closer look at the ticket, it was for Bern, which is in Switzerland. I am pretty sure it isn't valid in a town more than 2 hours north of the border. Oh, well--you live and you learn. John learned that sweet-looking little old ladies are not to be trusted. I could have told him that.

Nee in Germany is related to little old ladies of that kind

Friday, October 29, 2010

Off for the Weekend

Just to keep people in the loop, we are going to Switzerland for the weekend to visit friends and will be back Monday afternoon. It feels a little douche-y to announce we are flitting off for an international jaunt, but my family yells at me for not letting them know if we are going to be gone.

I am going to spend the afternoon finishing up a BIG translating job I have been working on forever *cough* so I can send it off and enjoy my weekend with a clear conscience.

Hannah is supposed to be stopping at Claire's after school to put together a few pieces that should culminate in a Halloween costume of some kind. She tried to tempt me hither with the suggestion of a little mother-daughter time, but she just doesn't have the guilt-trip chops yet to get me to abandon my so-close-to-being-done translation.

I've finished the laundry already, so this evening we just have to throw a few things in a bag, then we'll be catching a train at 8:30 tomorrow morning.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One reason I consider myself liberal

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd US President (1882-1945)

Friday, October 15, 2010

My girl, again

I love that Hannah is so close to us. She could be a raging teenager already, and who knows? Someday she might be. But for now, she comes home and chats us up, and since I'm working upstairs, she regales her dad with everything that is going on at school, including dishing the dirt on people's love lives and what's up today with her nemesis. This even after we have urged her not to be so mean (if mostly in her head) to said nemesis.

Nee in Germany is a lucky mom

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My big girl

Hannah and I have been on our own for a couple of days while John is away on business, and I've really been aware of how mature she's getting. She had an orthodontist's appointment on Monday, and afterward we had to run by the grocery store for a few forgotten items. She insisted on carrying them even though I offered to carry the toilet paper, saying her dad would insist that she carry it for me (since I am sooo frail, duh), plus my stuff, and his stuff, too, while she was at it. I love her understated sarcasm. I told her I was surprised she didn't think her dad would want her to carry me, too; I fit on her back.

She stayed home sick yesterday. She wasn't violently ill like in September when I was in Texas--John sent her to school with an upset tummy, and she barfed on the bus before she even got there--but she had a loud, wet cough that would have been a distraction to her and her classmates. She was already sounding better yesterday afternoon, though, and told her dad on the phone last night that she'd be going to school today.

Then this morning she told me she was enjoying school more this year, now that she has gotten away from certain teachers and has more interesting subjects, which includes chemistry, physics, and a technology class. She even learned something in music class! (Instead of doodling SpongeBob, which has been her usual m.o., I learned.) And when she left, she was perfectly pleasant, unlike the surly dwarf I used to send out the door last year.

This afternoon she is going to stop off to pick up another forgotten item at the store. She even took it upon herself to make a reminder in her cell phone. She's getting so dependable! That's one of the things I like about living here: our town is set up in such a way that Hannah can get herself around and help with errands and such while staying in a fairly circumscribed area. I think that has contributed in large part to her burgeoning independence.

Nee in Germany is all verklempt

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Patience is a virtue

I was hoping to have the results of my 24-hour EKG earlier this week, but my doctor was out of the office, and today, her first day back, she was already booked, so I have to wait until tomorrow to go over it with her.

Having to wait kind of sucks. I've been pretty calm about things up to now, but I'm still having the fluttery feeling, plus some new annoyances that may or may not be side effects of the medication I'm on, and my patience is getting a little thin.

It's boring to me and to my family to always be paranoid about every little twinge or burp. I'm trying not to complain too much, because John gives me this look, like he's torn between worry and thinking I'm a hypochondriac. :) But this is my blog and I can complain here if I want to.

Most of the physical annoyances are right there on the package insert, so I haven't let myself get too worked up over them. Oddly, I haven't experienced any of the symptoms on the "very frequent" side effect list. But headache, shortness of breath during exertion, stomach ache from the "frequent" list, and pains around the heart area and muscles cramps from the "occasional" list? Check, at least in small doses off and on. As long as they go away again within a day or so, I chalk them up to the medication and don't worry about them. But there is one spot right between my shoulder blades that hurts (and I kept accidentally whacking it against the edge of the kitchen counter while sitting on a stool in there this morning, grrr); it could just be from working at a desk, but I don't like it.

I have also developed a burping problem. Laugh if you like, but it is extremely annoying. Water makes me burp. A banana makes me burp. Not eating anything for over an hour makes me burp. The icing on the cake was some bad reflux last night while sitting on the couch, upright, after one of the healthier meals I've made in a while (baked fish, rice, and stir-fried veg). Now I just need to find out if the chalky antacid I have is ok to use with my medicine. I guess it doesn't matter, because I had to use it last night, and I'm still here this morning.

Maybe tomorrow I'll get some useful news.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Beans, beans--they're good for your heart...

Maybe I haven't eaten enough beans, then.

Right now I am undergoing some tests to try to pinpoint the reason(s) for some odd feelings I have been having--a slight tightness in my chest, a fluttery feeling in my chest and neck that comes and goes--and a fast heart rate and higher-than-normal blood pressure my doctor found. So far, all of the tests--blood work-up, ultrasound on my heart, EKG--have come back normal, but I am waiting on the results of a 24-hour EKG before we can make any more decisions. I am on a beta-blocker to bring down my heart rate, but at a fairly low dose.

I haven't had any shortness of breath (outside of climbing the stairs) or dizziness, just the occasional slight headache, which can be a side effect of the medication I am on. And the funny chest feelings.

After the last month, I am willing to accept that it could be stress-related, although I normally react to stress with sleep problems and an eye tic.

One thing that really got to me in all this was my enforced uselessness over the weekend. When I saw my g.p. on Friday, she immediately rushed around taking blood, hooking me up to the EKG, and giving me meds, but then I was supposed to take it easy when I got home and try not to overdo it. John was the iron-fisted enforcer of this advice, and his gentle but firm remonstrances when he found me sitting on the floor, trying to sort laundry put me in tears. One would think that having doctor's orders to do nothing would be the cat's pajamas, but it was driving me crazy. After dropping off the EKG device yesterday--and having no new directions to the contrary--I started adding some activity back into my day. I drove the few blocks down the street for my turn at catsitting duty, cooked a simple dinner, scrubbed out Hannah's toilet, and put away some clean dishes. Surprisingly, I felt both tired and slightly manic afterward. Who knows what that is about, but I will continue to try to pick up my daily activities without pushing myself. If I feel weird, I will stop, as I already promised John.

And Hannah was so good with helping to pick up the slack in chores and such, I got her a little Wars calendar she had already begged me for. Each month has a photo of a different character, plus sketches from the planning stages. The Leia photo will help if we manage to get around to making a Leia Halloween costume for Hannah.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


John discovered that the "American-style" chocolate chip cookies* at the store were only 88 cents, so he bought 2 packages. After we had hovered up most of them, there was one left, and since we are fair-minded people who knew we had had our fair share, we left it for Hannah. Only she automatically assumes we are not fair-minded, despite us telling her that we left the last cookie for her, and so we got this:

If you can't read it, it says, "Hannahs cookie Paws OFF!" This, after she licked *both sides* of the cookie in front of me.

*To be fair, they are really similar to Chips Ahoy. Usually when something is labeled American-style (or it is implied by the obvious red-white-and-blue packaging), it tends to be American in name only.

Despite her bogarting the cookie, I must tell you how much I love this girl. She was looking in a German teenie magazine and was asking about the difference in two words she thought were synonyms. Turns out, they are only very similar in meaning, just like their English counterparts--jealousy and envy. John pointed out that God says in the Bible, "I am a jealous god." Hannah asked with a straight face, "Which Bible?" I can see that 4 years of religious instruction in elementary school were not wasted on her. :^)

Finally, I got the horrible munchies this afternoon, and all there was left to eat was a very slobbery chocolate chip cookie, so I dug into the pantry and whipped up some cookies. Ingredients: butter, marzipan, flour, almond slivers for decoration. Yum! And in a serendipitous turn of events, the marzipan had been sitting, unopened, in the pantry for who knows how long, and I managed to use it up a mere week before the expiration date, without even looking at the label in advance. Not bad for a sugar-fiend.

Then I came back to my desk and finished 2 documents totaling 3 pages of loosely spaced text. Yay!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Today was rough

Really, really rough.

I talked to my mom on the phone last night and came away pissed at my almost 18-year-old nephew.

Got up and got a doctor's appointment for some minor breathing problems I've been having. I was able to concentrate and get a solid hour of work in before going to the doctor, but then I had a hard time keeping it together.

Then this afternoon, I read this entry at Regretsy, which had me a little teary, but when I got down to this comment

#22 Kate V. :
That is so incredible! I’m actually inspired to make my own urn now. My family’s lazy, and if I don’t they’ll just pour me into a coffee can.

I started bawling and couldn't stop.

I can't explain it... Shannon would have been able to put it into words...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hannah's new look

Hannah was in the orthodontist's chair on Wednesday while I was landing in London at Heathrow. Here's the results:

She's on a soft-food diet at the moment, due more to the pressure on her teeth than to any pain, but she's handling the yoghurt drinks, soups, apple sauce, and overcooked noodles pretty well so far. Hopefully in another day or two she'll be able to chew a little better.

All of this coincides with a big pile of goodies I brought back with me at the behest of Hannah and John. Actually, my mom wanted to send John a care package for his birthday, but first we were in Sweden and then her back got all jacked up, so it fell to me to arrange a calorie-laden birthday box. If Hannah's teeth don't get better soon, she'll miss out on the corn chips and Reese's pieces. I managed to convince her not to open a couple of things so they won't go stale before she can eat them, but it is a real test of her intestinal fortitude to forego all the treats.

We haven't managed to get out of the house since I got back around 9:30 pm on Wednesday, so tomorrow we really need to get out and procure the new tooth-care items her doctor has recommended, as well as some school supplies and groceries. The first day of school is right around the corner again!

Thursday, September 09, 2010


As most of you are aware, my best friend Shannon Coad died last week.

I am not ready to talk about it.

I have read the outpouring of love and support for her and her family online, but I am just not ready to do it in that format. I spent a little time with John and Sherrie last weekend, and they know what is in my heart. That is all that matters.

Right now losing her is a big gaping wound whose edges don't even meet, much less starting to scab over or heal.

Someday I will find words, but for now, there are just tears.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Only in our family

John and I* have this shrieky voice we use when we are going to say something offensive to the other person without really meaning it, or meaning it with love. Yesterday, John shriekily told me to “shut the hell up!” Hannah, who knows our weird ways, said sort of wistfully, “I hope I have a marriage like yours someday.”

While considering how to tell this story, it occurred to me that some things are just really hard to put into words without giving people the wrong idea.

Hannah is getting into the groove of our weirdness. The other day, John said something about the bigness of his butt (in the context of trying to navigate our long, narrow kitchen with all 3 of us in there), and I quipped that his butt is so big it has its own gravitational field, and Hannah chimed in that his butt needs its own weather forecast. I high-fived her for that one.

* I have generally moved on from the shrieky voice and play it straight. John finds it hilarious when we’re chatting in bed and he says something annoying and I tell him to fuck off. It’s twuu wuv!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Red is Blue

I am sad.

A friend's husband has just found out that the surgery and months of chemoradiation he suffered through has basically not made a dent in his cancer, and even a radical surgery that would leave him without a tongue or vocal cords would only have a 25% chance of completely getting rid of the cancer. Hospice has been called in, and he is not expected to make it more than 6 months.

Every time I think about it, I start to cry. He's only 46. My friend is going to be a widow at 37.

It is so fucking unfair. I want to scream at the universe, hit something, put the pain somewhere outside my body.

All I can do is tell her I love her and hold them in my heart.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

For the first time in living memory,

...we are out of tomato paste. Please bow your heads before the enormity of that statement, because it means that the impossible has just become possible. John may not know how much milk, toilet paper, or coffee we have in the house, but he knows that civilization just may cease to exist if he doesn't come home from the store with a tube of tomato paste. Many's the time when I've fallen on my knees before him, shopping list in hand, "For the love of all that's holy--no. more. tomato paste." I was understandably panicky when I realized that the last 2 tablespoons of tomato paste in the house were stored safely in the vegetable crisper--just before I squeezed them into some carne guisada. Now I feel unanchored from reality, floating along on a tomato-pasteless tide. How will I survive until John is able to unleash his tomato paste-buying propensities on Saturday?

-Nee in Germany gets a bit emotional about tomato-based products

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A little of this

Hannah is off on her class trip. She wouldn't let me help her pack, so she forgot the folding fan I bought her and her retainer. I hope 4 retainer-less nights won't cause a big setback in her dental progress; probably not. A couple of days before they hopped on a train for their 1-hour tip, there were a couple of instances where the A/C went out on some trains and caused some students coming home from a class trip to suffer heat stroke. That's *just* what a mom wants to see on the news while preparing to ship off her kid.

I also had to sign another form for her to be able to do the climbing wall [this was the thing we were fighting about in my last post] and email it to the place. The original one got misplaced between my signing and their arriving. *sigh* We haven't heard from Hannah since then, so I hope everything is under control. She'll be back about 2pm on Friday.

Yesterday it was hot all day, to the point where I had to move my computer downstairs closer to the oscillating fan, but then a delightfully violent summer storm blew in in the evening and pelted us with rain and hail. John had tipped the upstairs windows, and rain managed to blow in across half the length of the room, so I had to run upstairs to mop up. This is what it looked like outside afterward:

after the storm

At one point, we couldn't see anything beyond the tan house at the bottom of this picture because it was raining and hailing so hard.

It's been much nicer today. We've had just enough cloud cover and wind to make it comfortably warm as opposed to murderously hot. I wish I could paint. I would only paint clouds.

lovely summer clouds

lovely summer clouds

lovely summer clouds

-Nee in Germany doesn't know her cumulus from her cirrus

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Yesterday was stupid.

I got up prepared to wage battle against my computer. Tuesday afternoon, my anti-virus software started giving me warnings every single time I changed web pages. Just checking my webmail was a travail. Tossing the alleged culprit from my temporary internet file folder--multiple times--did nothing. Ran the anti-virus software without it actually finding anything. Gave it up and decided to do it Wednesday morning.

I got up, started my computer in safe mode, started the virus check. While that ran--for 2 hours!--I washed the dishes, watered my plants, and vacuumed the entire house. When it was done, I discovered that it still hadn't found anything virus-y on my machine. It just didn't like that script running, apparently. Anyhow, through the power of my big brain and a quality I like to call stubbornness, I finally figured it out and got rid of the source of annoyance. By this time, it was close to noon.

I worked a bit on my translation, but it was hard to get into it. The elation of the previous day, when had I finished 1.5 times my normal workload, and the morning's triumph over my computer made it hard to settle down.

Then Hannah came home and accused me of not signing a form she needed for a rock-climbing event her P.E. coach had arranged (to take place in two weeks, I believe). We disagreed about that for a bit, then when she went to the bathroom, I checked her school stuff in her room. Where I did *not* find the form, but I found a different form that she had never shown me about tutoring in Latin. Not to go into too much detail, but I was immediately incandescently angry. The kind of angry where you completely shut down lest you choke the living shit out of someone. Yes, that angry.

So I made her go eat lunch and put the finishing touches on the presentation she is giving today on Texas. I was too mad to concentrate on working, so I just gave up and went to help her with her handout and slides. Which is when our new printer ran out of ink for the first time. *sigh* I should have known. So John took her stuff into town for copying this morning and will meet her before class to make the drop. I'll have to take the ink cartridge into town tomorrow to be refilled (refillable--yay!).

I figured I wouldn't be able to get to sleep with the Germany semi-final game starting at 8:30, so I stayed up farting around on the Internet when I had intended to write or blog. It was surprisingly quiet--a lack of goals will do that--with only the occasional sound of a dispeptic cow in the distance (aka, someone who can't make his vuvuzela work).

All in all, the day was a bust, minus the workout my circulatory system got from the rage jolt.

-Nee in Germany has hope that today will be better

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

New sub-title

John called me that--"militantly anti-sentimental"--and it was perfect, so I stuck it up there with my title.

I used to worry that I was too unemotional, but that is not exactly true. I cry at yoghurt commercials and that one scene in Return of the King and that one song on the Wiggles. I just don't get worked up about getting old or dying or experiencing other calamities. That's just a part of life. Part of that I get from my grandmother, who used to say that she had gotten her 3 score of years and the rest was gravy. She was a pragmatist, and I picked up on that. Part of it is just me. And that's ok.

Monday, July 05, 2010

I'm baaack

Last week was dreadful. It was hotter than Satan's oven, and I had the last of those articles to finish copyediting, and my office is on the top floor of an attic apartment with windows facing southweset, and it is hard to think when all of those factors conspire against you at the same time. But luckily, it cooled off a bit over the weekend and is now delightfully overcast, so my brain is functioning properly again and I can tell you all about all the non-thinking things I have done in the meanwhile.

Due to the mind-numbing heat, I have had to be extra-vigilant about watering my balcony plants. I don't know what this is, but I got it as a little gift from a guest, and I bunged it in the pot with the walnut tree and the dead mice for want of a better place for it, yet it is thriving there.


I have a variety of flowers growing from seeds, none of which I know the name of.




This is some cilantro I let get away from me. Apparently, you are supposed to use it before it puts out flowers. The leaves near the flowers don't taste good, but maybe there are still some bigger leaves lower down that are still edible. John is making guacamole tonight, and baby needs some cilantro for it!


Someday, this will be chamomile. Right now, it is just some disgusting green stuff. God help us if that is how the tea is supposed to taste. (I don't drink it anyway, but John does.)


There's also the mystery citrus plant. Every year, I drag it indoors in the fall, and it gets scraggly and droopy and its leaves fall off if you look at them, and I do a little creative snipping on it, and when spring comes, I drag it out on the balcony and say, "The hell with it." Then it puts out a bunch of healthy leaves that you can't get off with pliers. Still no fruit, though.

mystery citrus

Here's another victim of my long-term gardening. This poinsettia still has a few faded pink leaves from when I successfully forced it this last winter. And look--a bud!


Finally, we have the biggest disappointment of my 2010 gardening attempts. Looking at the thick, healthy leaves, you'd think I was well on my way to a motherlode of flowers. Well, you'd be wrong. Wondering what was up with the mystery plants (because I always neglect to label the planters), I dug out the seed packets I had saved and discovered I had planted carnations. Yay! Carnations! My favorite flowers! And then turned over the packet to discover they only put out flowers in the second year. What a blow.

future carnations

After I got my editing sent off Friday evening, I devoted myself to a weekend full of watering and cleaning. John was disappointed on Saturday that I would rather stay at home with a bunch of cat fuzz and caustic chemicals than go swimming with him, but really, the house needed it and I had been planning it for half of the week. It takes me that long to build up to these things. John didn't give me half a week to embrace the idea of swimming, which I don't care for that much to start with. Plus, he was happy to have been gone when I told him that Cry-Baby came on tv, AND I WATCHED IT. Luckily, I had a lot of stuff already sprayed or washed and drying, so I could devote myself to the deliciousness that is a young Johnny Depp. I must have watched this movie once a week the whole time I was preggers with Hannah and during her infancy (I think Jooge turned me on to it--how can I thank you enough?!), so it is probably melded with her DNA somehow. Anyhow, when I wasn't getting all hot and bothered over Johnny Depp in his tighty whiteys (let that image sink in, ladies), I was scrubbing the shit out of bathrooms and the kitchen. Major spring cleaning type stuff.

On Sunday, Cry-Baby came on again, so Hannah got to enjoy the beauty of it first hand (she had accompanied a friend shopping on Saturday and so missed out on the glory). John avoided it by washing the dishes, slowly and thoroughly. Afterward, I put together a new bookcase and got my side of the closet a little bit neater by moving all the books out of it and into the new bookcase. I also got my office neatened up now that the one project was over but before I got back to the other project. It made it nice to get back to work this morning.

Then Hannah wanted me to cut her hair. I told her that she'd have to get in the shower right after dinner if she really wanted me to do it. Normally she has achieved a mind meld with the television at that point and requires a blasting cap to get her moving, but I must have come across as sufficiently serious for her to get a move on. She has thick hair, like her dad, and she was getting annoyed with "sweaty neck", so off it came, all but a section that she is braiding and pushing behind her ear so she looks like a Padawan learner.

snip snip

I'm sure there are other things I've forgotten, but I need to go start dinner, so farewell, friends and loved ones, for now.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

John got home Sunday night, tired but happy. Since then, I've been busily working away, and everyone else has been busy, too, so not much has been happening to report on. John had over 400 pictures(!) from his Russia trip, but he managed to weed them down to somehere in the 200s. Last night he got them posted, but not completely labeled, to Flickr.

Hannah is suddenly eager to work on her school project about Texas because otherwise she has to study Latin. Rather than make her wade through a bunch of stuff online, I bought her a book to use while I was in Texas in March. It's a rather simple book, but the project is for English class, and her classmates haven't gotten so good in English yet that they could follow something too complicated, so I guess it will work out.

-Nee in Germany, not dead yet

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Wisdom of Hannah

Walking to the bus with Hannah on one of the play nights last week, I asked her about her grades. She told me that her Latin teacher thought she could get her grade up if she put in some more work. Then, she said the most amazing thing: "Mom, will you help me?" I told her that was the first time I could recall her asking me for help with school (usually I just boss her around, unasked). Then I mentioned that I had just bought a book for her to help with Latin (I do that a lot--our collection is quite extensive). She moaned and groaned. I pointed out that she *had* asked for my help. "Yes, but I didn't say I wouldn't complain." That was so Hannah, I just burst out laughing.

Play Report

At Hannah's school, extracurricular activities aren't extensions of regular classes like when I was in school in Texas, for instance, classes for band or drama. Instead, they are completely voluntary, after-school clubs. I think (this is Hannah's first year) participation gets marked in the kids' end-of-year report cards, but there is no grade for it. This year, Hannah joined the theater club, to mine and John's surprise, and this week, they put on their play, three times.

Since John has been out of town all week and therefore unable to pull his weight in the areas of attendance at the play and accompanying Hannah home after 8 p.m., I have been to all three shows. I now consider myself somewhat of an expert on Hannah's club's adaptation of Sarah Weeks's novel, So B. It.

The basic premise of the play in the stripped-down version I saw (there's more plot info at the amazon link above) was that a girl living with her mentally retarded mother and an agoraphobic neighbor runs away to travel across the country to try to find out about her mother's past and her own roots. Hannah played the role of the girl's father, who lives in the home where the girl's mother had once lived.

The play opened with a bunch of girls in white dancing around the stage with some white boxes that got left behind. The boxes were the main props in the play, serving as chairs, tables, beds, benches, even a bus. The bus scene was really well done, too. The boxes as bus seats were offset from each other so all of the passengers--an elderly pair of sisters (one of whom complained the whole time), a mother and bratty kid, a lady who talked nonstop about her cats when given the slightest opening, the main character--were visible to the audience. A screen had been placed at the back of the stage, and passing scenery was projected on to it. The only bit that was kind of off was the sound effects for the bus motor--it sounded like a souped-up lawn mower.

All in all, I thought they did a really good job.

After the third performance, the kids had to stick around to dismantle as much of the stage as the could; Hannah's school is in a historical building in the old part of town, meaning there is not a lot of space inside or outside where they could have expanded to add a theather, so they have to cram their performances in the foyer of the school. Some work men will probably be there on Monday to take down the risers. I waited out in the courtyard with some other parents and jotted this all down before I forgot. I was also driven slightly mad by the delicious smell of grilled meat wafting over from the far end of the courtyard. I mentioned the space issue with Hannah's school; the building forms a U at one end of a courtyard, and the other U is made up of a church and either some apartments or a co-op (Hannah wasn't sure). They have a yard that is fenced off from the school courtyard and seemed to be having a grill party. Hannah and I agree that it must suck to live that close to a high school, especially when the kids are out in the courtyard during their breaks.

John took our digital camera to Russia with him, so I had to take photos with an old analog camera. I'll try to come back and add a photo or two later when I have the film developed.

-Nee in Germany forgot her ticket for the third performance at home

Friday, June 25, 2010

I gots the brain pain

Yuck. Just waiting for the ibuprofen to kick in. But at least I got that horrible article done and out the door.

Got a random phone call. I didn't recognize the speaker's voice, and he (I thought it was a he) wanted to play "guess who I am". Annoy-ing. Turned out to be John's aunt-in-law, who apparently is here in Germany. I think she may have just landed, because she was in Frankfurt, and her family is in Bavaria. Probably waiting on a layover to Munich. She thought I sounded ill, and I thought she sounded like a man, so it wasn't the best conversation we've ever had, but at least it was short. Maybe we'll hear back from her when she is settled and de-jetlagged.

I think I'll work on the dishes while I am so mentally useless. Hannah's play is running through Saturday, and I am going to all of the shows. I have to leave here around 5:30 to run a couple of errands beforehand, so it is not really worth it to start another article (well, to pick up where I left off yesterday on another article) this late in the afternoon. After I sleep in tomorrow, I'll report on Hannah's play.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I am on the hunt for some decent licorice. First I picked up a bag of hard licorice. I had to stick a new piece in my mouth to unstick the old piece from my molars, that is how hard they were. Then I got a bag of soft licorice (same brand). It is unsatisfyingly mushy, a bit like those red jelly candies we used to get around Easter. Dear God, why can't I find a proper licorice I can chew without damaging my dental health?! *ahem* I'll put that on my next grocery list.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

So tired

Hannah had theater rehearsal this afternoon, so I wrapped up work around 5:30 to start the rice for fried rice later. I washed some dishes, and around 6:30 I started heating the oven for egg rolls. Then I got the fried rice and hot and sour soup going. Now it was past 7, and Hannah still wasn't home. So I called her cell phone. Not on. I kept on with the dishes. I fried the hell out of that rice. I called her phone 8 or 12 more times. Not on. I rushed to the window every time a bus came. She didn't get off. I turned the stove off. John called from Moscow, and at first I thought it was her (the numbers are similar). Freaked John out (that call cost him !13! Euros via our cell phone). Promised to call him when I heard from her. Cried. Called her phone. Called her school. Looked up the teacher's home number and called there. No answers. Finally, at 8:30 PM!--30 minutes after her toothbrushing and getting ready for bed time--she gets off the bus, looking totally unconcerned. I was so relieved I felt weak, but not too weak to rip her up one side and almost make her cry. She said she didn't even know what time it was. Called John and gave him the good news that I hadn't lost Hannah while he was gone. Got her fed and ready for bed, and now I think I will go to bed early, too.

Monday, June 21, 2010


For some reason, when John is home, I tend to be somewhat reluctant about doing housework, but as soon as he leaves on a trip, I sack up and do what needs to be done, I guess because I know he won't be along to pick up the slack. He's only been gone since Friday, and I am already tired.

Hannah had a project for school, and I was really impressed by her ingenuity in getting it done. She had to record a poem, complete with sound effects for German class, so she used her ipod to record all the various parts. I went online and found a short demo for her on using Windows Movie Maker to cut and mix audio, and between the two of us, we got everything converted, imported, cut, mixed, saved, and uploaded this evening so she can play it in class tomorrow. (I also had to find another copy of the poem for her online, because it somehow got "lost"--she claims a classmate took it--between the day she told me about the project and a couple of days before it was due.)

I went into town with Hannah today to do a little shopping. I don't leave the house that much now that I am working full time from home, so it was nice to have a little break. She didn't have to go to school today because the seniors are taking their oral final exams and the school cut the other kids loose to reduce the noise level, but she did have rehearsal for the play starting at 12:30. We got up at a relatively early time, 8:30-ish, and after sending off another edited chapter, we got on the bus for our shopping spree.

Hannah's birthday money was really burning a hole in her pocket, and I had told her she could spend part of it. She had a firm idea of what she wanted, too, because she had fixated on the pajamas that Mia wears during her post-breakup depression in Princess Diaries 9. We found Hello Kitty pjs, but not fuzzy ones, damn the luck. I told Hannah that it is summer, and no one has AC--why would they be selling fuzzy pjs at this time of year? I also let her buy eyeshadow and an eyeliner--she played with them for a while after she got home and decided that she wouldn't wear them to school because she thought they made her look "slutty." Well, when your first attempt at eyeliner gives you Cleopatra eyes, yes, it might be a bit too much. I'm sure she will get with a friend and figure it out eventually, but for now I am not too upset at her decision. (Obviously, I am the wrong person to help her.) I had already put my foot down on high heels, though, which she feels is totally unfair of me, but too bad. As long as I can keep her distracted with Chucks, skinny jeans, and Star Wars t-shirts, she won't have to die of the shame of not having high heels.

After she went off to rehearsal, I rounded off my errands with a trip to the grocery store for some victuals for the actors on opening night (Thursday), since the teachers warned us the kids wouldn't have time to run out for something to eat beforehand. I also hit the Asian grocery for hot and sour soup mix, baking soda, and John's rooster sauce (hot!). Then I had to lug everything over to a different bus stop than I would usually use because the road into our village is currently being redone and the bus route is all screwed up for those of us trying to get there.

And now I have to go make sure all the windows are closed before heading to bed. John complains that it is stuffy if we don't have at least one window open at night, but Hannah and I have been waking up "grunky" (her term) thanks to the cold spell* we are having. John's not here, so stuffy it is.

*Germans even have a name for it: sheep's cold. Apparently there is an increased risk of a cold spell around the middle of June due to some meteorological stuff I didn't bother to memorize, a time when (historically) the sheep would already be sheared and therefore susceptible to the cold.

--Nee in Germany can hear the sheep bleating up the hill from her

Sunday, June 20, 2010


John is off to a linguistics conference in Moscow. He left Friday with a colleague, and a group of them were going to spend the weekend doing tourist-y stuff before the conference starts on Monday. He has promised me a matryoshka doll and Hannah a Hard Rock t-shirt (if Moscow has a Hard Rock Cafe, which I don't doubt).

So Hannah and I are on our own for the next week. It is going to be a busy one, too. She is in the theater club at school, and they are gearing up to put on their play, So B. It, starting on Thursday. She spent all of yesterday afternoon at rehearsal and went back this morning for another full day of it (9-3). She complained about all the sleeping in and tv-watching she was missing out on, but I pointed out that it is only 1 weekend and will be over soon. I also pointed out that she doesn't have school tomorrow, so she can sleep in a little then before rehearsals start again at 1. I was surprised that Hannah decided to join the theater club, because she is generally not a joiner, but she has stuck with it. Oddly enough, she got the role she has (as the slightly mentally retarded father of the main character, I think) because the teacher in charge thought Hannah was the only kid who seemed to be able to be serious about it when they had their retreat in March. Hannah, serious? She's a better actor than I thought, haha!

I am trying to use the forced alone time to get more work done on the book I am editing, and maybe get a little of my own writing in. We'll have to see how that goes.

--Nee in Germany is all alone. There's no one here beside me. My problems have all gone. There's no one to deride me, but you gotta have friends...

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Found this while looking for something work related:

Be who you are and say what you want, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
--Dr. Seuss

Sunday, June 13, 2010

All Over

On Saturday, we attended a graduation ceremony for yours truly. Which was kind of weird, because I finished my exams a year ago January, turned in my thesis last July, received my diploma in the mail this January, and now it is June. But not all departments even hold a graduation ceremony, so I was happy to go.

There was a short welcome speech from a faculty member.

Graduation Day

Then the English Department choir sang. John took some video footage of it, if anyone is interested.

Then the main speaker.

Graduation Day

(The room was gorgeous, all wood carving and paintings, but it really seemed to suck up the light in our photos. Sorry.)

Then some more singing. Then the graduates (and people taking their exams but soon to graduate) were called up one by one.

Graduation Day

A lot more people came than had been expected, so we really filled up the front of the room.

Graduation Day

Afterward, we were served champagne and buttered pretzels (this *is* Southern Germany, after all).

Graduation Day

(For those of you keeping track at home, in this photo I am wearing pumps and Hannah is not, yet she is taller than me.)

Then Hannah and John took me out to lunch. Hannah really wanted Chinese, but since she doesn't actually differentiate between Asian cuisines, we went to the Thai restaurant within view of the university building where the ceremony had been held. John decided to base his order on how obscene the dish sounded and ended up with Ped Rad Prik ("crispy fried duck with chili sauce"). Hilarity ensued: "You really seem to like that Prik." "You just can't get enough Prik, can you?" And so on in that manner.

I think John's 2 glasses of champagne went to his head, because Hannah and I were trying to explain about an experiment we had seen on Mythbusters about beer goggles, and he wouldn't stop watching a fly that got caught in a spider web in the corner behind him. It was his fault the fly got caught in the first place, because somehow (I didn't see it happen) he managed to knock one of the fly's legs off, making that 5-legged little sucker a sitting duck, so to speak. It was like being involved in the production of the most boring nature show ever.

Afterward, they wanted ice cream, so we headed down the street for it. The interprising ice cream salesmen had hung one of those stupid vuvuzelas (the horrible plastic horn that Africa has introduced to soccer fandom) out front and invited people to blow it. A couple had just given it a go when we walked up, and then while I was waiting for John and Hannah to order, I watched a little kid, maybe 4, walk up with his mouth wide open to blow into it. Luckily, the adult with him pulled it away and covered the mouthpiece with his hand. Just like with a public toilet, you are taking your chances with one of those things.

On the way to the parking garage, John insisted on one last photo to commemorate my time at the university.

Graduation Day

Now the umbilical cord is officially cut. Hello, cruel world!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Too inappropriate

...for facebook. But here, anything goes.

Here's another quote from me, for the record books:
"If what you just said is likely to be cross-stitched and put up in someone's bathroom, it's not really pillow talk, *John*."

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Working from home

So I am now more or less officially* working from home as a freelance translator and editor. For the first few weeks, I was working from the dining room table, or the living room recliner.

Xmas sunshine!

Mr. Rich Italian Wienie

My back wasn't too happy with either of those arrangements.

It didn't take too long to realize that the desk I had bought Hannah was primarily being used as a horizontal surface for storing books, and ostensibly clean clothes, and anything that missed the floor. So I stole it from her and put it up in our sunroom, which is now doubling as my office. The chair is fairly comfortable, the desk surface extensive, and the view wonderful. I should be able to make a ton of money up here!

my desk

repurposing the garden furniture


view from the office

view from my office

*Note to self: time to send in some paperwork for this, that, and the other.

Forgetful Jones, part 2

I'd forget my head if it weren't for my neck...

Around the time we were initially discussing a vacation to Greece, a little volcano by the name of Eyjafjallajokull was closing air space all over Europe. Add that to the problems Greece has by itself--economy cratering, protests leading to fires and deaths, strikes, the annual summer wildfires, plague of frogs--and I was as nervous then about traveling to Greece myself as I am now about John traveling to Russia in a couple of weeks alone. (Well, with a group of linguists, but not with me.)

Google's ads are tempting him, though. Every time I am around when he checks his email, he informs me of the latest travel specials--Crete! London! Berlin!

We just found out that our friends are staying in Switzerland one more year, though, so I think the weekend trip we had been planning could easily be expanded to include a visit to them and a bit of a vacation to boot.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

On Memorial Day

Patriotism is proud of a country's virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country's virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, "the greatest", but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is.
-Sydney J. Harris, journalist and author (1917-1986)*

*from the A.Word.A.Day email newsletter

Monday, May 31, 2010

Two eyes, four eyes, blue eyes, more eyes?

When I was in the third grade, I got glasses. I could once again make out leaves on the trees, and I got "most improved player" in softball.* By the fourth grade, I had already had my lenses strengthened twice, so it was time to go into hard contact lenses. Those also needed to be upgraded once or twice a year until I was in my late teens, but they were supposed to help slow down the deterioration. Since then, I have always had contact lenses, although I haven't always worn them. There have been several long periods--after Hannah was born, after moving to Germany--where I got new glasses and didn't bother to wear my contacts. Unfortunately, in all my years of glasses-wearing, I have never figured out the best way to care for them, and inevitably the lenses get scratched. That is very annoying, especially since the current batch of scratches is right in the center of the lens. In addition to that particular annoyance, I can't wear sunglasses while wearing my scratched-up regular glasses. That was brought home to me while visiting Legoland last weekend. We had a rare sunny spell, and it would have been a lot more comfortable with shades. (And a hat, but I have noted that for next time.)

So, with all that background now thoroughly explained, I am having to train myself to wear contacts again. When you first get them (hard ones, at least), you have to gradually build up to wearing them all day. I am up to 4 or 5 hours a day at the moment. Since I am working from home, and my work space is right across the hall from the bathroom, it has been a fairly simple procedure; it would be a hassle if I had to tote the supplies around with me. Tomorrow I have to take Hannah back to the orthodontist, so maybe I will get myself some new shades while I am out to celebrate my newly independent eyeballs.

*My improved visual acuity did not included improved depth perception, nor improved hand-eye coordination, so I was never going to play softball professionally, but at least I didn't completely suck rocks any more.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Vacations of the stars

"Lydia ... never heard nor saw anything of which she chose to be insensible." --Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

In summers past, Hannah and I left vacation planning completely to John. Those were the cold, drizzly vacations we spent in Sweden.

Hannah & Deanna with Hedeby houses

And Scotland.

Greyfriars Church

After those, Hannah and I insisted on somewhere warm. We can get cold and drizzly at home. John took pity on us and planned a trip to Italy. That is definitely the place to go if you want heat.

Hannah in Rome

This year, he has really been pushing for Greece. His original plan was to land in Athens, look around a couple of days, and catch a ferry to Crete.

Hmm, I said, are you sure about that? What about the financial crisis?

Ah, it won't affect us.

What about the protests?

That's just the Greek way of letting off steam.

What about the deaths?

Um, maybe we'll just skip Athens and fly straight to Crete.

In the meanwhile, I have made a few more pertinent points regarding our finances and upcoming expenses (which do include travel for John), and I think Greece will have to wait for us.

But in other news, Greece has been overrun with frogs.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things that make you go WHAT?!

The washing machine repairman came today. He left the machine running with some special detergent for removing gunk, and I spent the next hour randomly feeling up the machine to make sure the water was really getting hot. It was! And we were only out 2/3 of the original cost for this 6-year-old machine. *sigh*

Hormones are kicking my ass. They haven't been making me crazy (that I can tell), but it would be a kindness if my face would just explode already and stop being colonized by monster zits. *sigh*

Hannah brought up the mail this afternoon: an L.L. Bean catalog. Ok, not an unusual experience. I pulled off the plastic wrap to find a quarter of the back cover neatly ripped off and completely missing. How did that happen?!

I will be spending my next couple of evenings researching computer printers. Ours has finally gotten to the point that it is unusable--actually, we might be able to print in color, but I got too frustrated with it on Sunday to verify that. I need to go into town tomorrow, so I will look at what is available there, then on Friday we are going to the mall and will look at what is available there, and maybe by this weekend we can have a new one up and running. *sigh*

We bought Hannah Sims 3 for xmas, and she was happily playing along when John's hard drive pooped, and now it won't load on the new hard drive. Who knows what is going on there, but neither of us have time at the moment to really look into it. *sigh*

The leak in the car mysteriously stopped as suddenly as it started, but now the AC compressor doesn't work, nor the windshield wipers. Coincidence? I wish! We could probably get by ok without the AC, but not the wipers (which, by the way, I managed to change all by myself, after carrying them around in the hatch space for *cough* at least a year *cough*). *sigh*

Otherwise, things are going just swimmingly! :)

-Nee in Germany just realized she sounds like a downer today

Friday, April 23, 2010


That's how we felt when we discovered that the computer John had bought in January was having problems recently and would have to get a new hard drive. WHAT?! John called customer support and was walked through some test in order to find that out. Oddly enough, I had run a diagnostic test myself just the week before, but the code that came up wasn't on the list I had access to, and I misunderstood the text that mentioned something about not being able to access a disk, something something. Turns out, that *did not* refer to the CD disk drive. *sigh* None of that would have been that big of a deal, but when John went to save the C drive to the backup disk, Windows didn't bother to include any of his data in that, only the programs and their data. Then the technician came and took away the old drive and mailed it off for reconditioning before we noticed the problem. John has pointed out that he was lucky to only have had the computer for a few months and not to have put that many new documents on it, to have some data in email and online, but it was still a very sucky frustration.

In less frustrating news, I got a rush translation job this week and made a wad of cash. Ka-ching! Unfortunately, I underestimated the amount of time I would need and had to put in some extra hours I would normally reserve as non-work time late in the evening and early in the morning. But the doctor who hired me didn't seem to mind that it was a little late.

Hannah is harassing us to make an elaborate birthday party supply order from amazon us, just so she can have a ton of Star Wars swag on her birthday. Most of her friends are going to be out of town; we could make the Star Wars stuff ourselves with our color printer and some glue. Today I was teasing her about her nerd cred--she misremembered the subtitle on a Fantastic Four (*heh* I just typed "Fabulous Four") movie--and she said it was hard growing up in a nerd-free country. I asked if she felt like she didn't fit in, but that wasn't the case--there just aren't enough nerd role-models here to emulate.

I lost some of my balcony plants, including the mystery tree, the smaller walnut tree, and the lavender. I didn't really like the lavender very much, and I didn't even know what the mystery tree was, so I guess it was not too much of a loss, and now I can reuse their pots. All my flower boxes have sprouted so far, and I finally have seedlings coming up in my herb pot as well. Yay, cilantro! I need to cut back my poinsettia and just generally do some gardening this weekend.

John and I take turns planning meals and grocery shopping, but Hannah was not pleased with John's choices this last week, many of which were meat-less. "I neeeed meeeeat!" she moaned at every meal. Scurvy, I am telling you. Anyhow, today I got sick of her whining about the lack of meat and the lack of instant food for lunches and told her that if she didn't like it, she could do it herself. And she did! She sat down with our kitchen notepad and started planning meals. When she ran out of ideas, she fetched a stack of cookbooks and started looking for more ideas. One of us still has to drive her to the store (and probably cook some of the meals), but my baby sacked up and offered to take on some responsibility! *sniff*

And now I will try to post this with the poor internet connect from up in our sunroom.

-Nee in Germany looks forward to meat

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Forgetful Jones

God, I always leave something out of my posts, so this will be the general catch-up post.

Poor Hannah, with her Star Wars fetish, missed out on the Star Wars characters at the mall last winter. After one of our near-death attempts to deliver Hannah to a birthday party in a different town--a successful attempt, although we almost killed each other over it--John and I went grocery shopping at said mall, and it was overrun with adults dressed up as Star Wars characters. One of the shops had a big Star Wars sale, with costumes and Lego sets on display in the main mall. I couldn't find a light saber like Hannah wanted, and I couldn't be tempted to buy one of the Lego sets, but I was tempted to pinch the butt of one of the Storm Troopers to see if I could get a reaction. I decided against it in the end.

Hannah has also been haunting an American costume shop online and has discovered a Princess Leia costume that she wants. It comes with a Darth Vader head for collecting candy in, but she thought something a little more R2D2 would be more appropriate. She is bemoaning our lack of a dog--we aren't really dog people, though--because they even make Star Wars costumes for dogs. I can't remember the second choice, but the first was Han Solo.

And in technology forgetfulness: After I got John's Palm up-to-date, I plugged in a card reader to get some photos loaded onto my computer from our digital camera. John commented on the many little gadgets I have invested in recently, and I had to point out that if our many electronic devices still work fine except for one little detail--Palm cable won't connect to computer, camera cable won't connect to computer--isn't it better to buy a little gadget for 10 or 20 bucks and get several more years out of the device rather than toss it and shell out hundreds of bucks for a replacement? I had him there.

John and I aren't averse to buying things, just wasting things. Which is why the washing machine repair man is coming next week to look at our washer. It should heat its own water, but I don't think it has done that in a while. That hasn't concerned me too much, because even Al Gore recommends washing in cold to save energy. But when slimy gray bits started showing up on our clothes, bits that would not have formed if we had been able to occasionally use hot water (as proved by my pouring hot water into the machine and getting rid of the gray bits behind the drum), then it is time for a repair.

And now if I have forgotten anything, it will be lost to the mists of time.

-Nee in Germany uses Forgetful Jones for her Facebook icon, sometimes

Monday, April 19, 2010

I fought the technology, and I won

John has been so sweet; he's been posting my technological successes on his Facebook page, even.

It started with hooking up my laptop to our LCD tv. John has been on a youtube kick, watching various stand-up comedians like Billy Connelly, and Eddie Izzard. And he also found some Far Side specials. So of course he wanted to share these with us, but he couldn't quite figure out how to force us in front of the little screen on my laptop, or crammed in front of the desktop computer in the study. That's where I came in.

All of these little successes started with some online research, naturally, so I could avoid buying things that I would then have to send back. Five packages in the mail later, I have set up a converter (requiring three separate cables) for connecting my laptop to our tv, and installed an infrared device on my laptop so we can finally (after 2 years) upload John's data from his Palm for safekeeping and also download electronic texts for him to read.

And of course, buying the proper equipment didn't mean that it just up and worked as required on the first (or second, or third) try. There was all sorts of adjusting and more looking up tips before I hit on the right combinations. One thing that still irks me about the tv set-up is that I can't just use it as a projector, i.e., what's on my monitor shows up on the screen. I had to set up the tv as a second monitor, which means that my monitor is now functionally twice as wide, with the left half still visible on my laptop and the right half visible on the television. It is strange mousing off the right side of the laptop monitor and trying to keep track of where I am on the tv screen. But once you get it set up, you can't really tell that it's not tv-ready programming.

I also bought some more ink for our printer to see if the name brand really does a better job than the store brand, or if our printer is just that sucky by itself, and some new surge protectors for John's newish computer. It has been doing this weird shut-down thing that could be due to our landlord's shitty wiring, and I'm hoping the new strip will help.

Unfortunately, I have allowed all this setting up to cut into my work time, so I need to see if I can't get caught up soon. That may be easier said than done, though. Hannah and I have dentist's appointments tomorrow after school, and I am helping her get ready for a math test on Friday. Luckily, she has afternoon class at least one day this week, so I have a few more child-free hours in which to work.

I never know how to end these entries. Maybe I should take a page out of mimi smartypants' book:
—mimi smartypants wrestled a pangolin once.
—mimi smartypants does what her brain tells her.
—mimi smartypants tells James Joyce, in no uncertain terms, to put it back in his pants.

-Nee in Germany is good with plugs

Friday, April 09, 2010

Isn't it funny...

how being effective leads to more effectiveness, but being a lazy loaf just leads to nothing? And you get a brand new chance every. single. day. to manage either of them? Just thinking aloud.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Yucky Easter

The weather has been quite bad today, wave after wave of dark clouds and rain. Luckily, Hannah is too big for egg hunting, which we wouldn't really be able to do outside anyway since we don't have a yard or a playground nearby. But after chomping down an 8-inch-high chocolate bunny, she complained about the dearth of candy around here. She seems to think that the American version of every holiday is an orgy of candy (although in this case, she wouldn't be far off the mark), and it is unfair that we have separated her from her sugar-laden heritage.

I have been in various stages of soreness all day today. Yesterday I defrosted and cleaned the freezer (which is on the bottom), and scrubbed all the gunk out from underneath. All that kneeling and squatting made my thighs hurt, only I don't notice it until I want to get up from sitting.

I also started planting the seeds for my herbs and flowers on the balcony. I got most of the planter boxes cleaned out and topped off with new soil, but I had to stop when, surprise!, the weather turned cold and wet yesterday afternoon. I am pretty sure that defrosting your freezer or starting your gardening works like washing your car for attracting rain clouds. At least I had the sense to put the planter boxes I had already seeded onto the balcony floor instead of back out on the railing to get washed away in the rain. In a couple of weeks, I might have some seedlings.

Not paying attention

On a recent shopping trip, I wanted to treat myself to one of my favorite German candies, gummi-colas.

Only, when I got home, Hannah pointed out that I had managed to buy FRUIT-flavored gummi-colas.

Okay, I suppose. I mean, I am familiar with cherry coke,

and lemon pepsi

and pomegranate 7-up.

(Heh, that last one is actually 1. not a cola, and 2. a recent find of Hannah's from the import shop.)

But if you will notice on the bag, the third fruit is (not pomegranate) orange. I don't recall there being an orange-flavored cola in the States, but they drink it over here.

There is another one called Schwip Schwap.

I wouldn't drink either of them, for I hate orange, but I like the commercials for Schwip Schwap better. They show a lab where people are trying various methods for getting the cola in the orange, with humorous results.

Anyhow, Hannah was able to reassure me that the gummis didn't actually taste like anything but cola, so I was able to chow down on them without worrying about them including any extra flavors or vitamins. *whew!*

I've got to start reading the packaging more closely, though. Who knows what it will be next time...