Thursday, April 28, 2011

The wages of sin... a second showing of Nuns on the Run. Hannah has bought into John's view that we are only getting our money's worth out of our DVD subscription if we watch the videos twice before sending them back, which is why I am upstairs at my computer instead of hanging out with Thing One and Thing Two (and Cat One and Cat Two, probably).

I think Hannah is also wrapping her gift for her friend's birthday party this weekend while she watches the movie. Since most of our gift wrap is xmas themed, she only had 3 non-xmas designs to choose from: pink and blue baby shoes, garden gnomes, or grapes and wine. I don't know why she was so opposed to the garden gnomes, but I think she wanted something more "classy". Then she is going to tape pieces of chocolate all over the outside; the ones we bought are wrapped in foil painted to look like lady bugs.

The birthday girl has invited Hannah and friends to go bowling. I wasn't even aware there was an alley in this town, but I am thankful, because we always get lost when we have to find something in one of the nearby little towns. I'm also glad that Hannah is going with someone who is not me, because I pulled something in my ass the last time we went bowling (in France, because that is just what you do when you go over the border, right?). It took a week to be able to go upstairs without limping the last time, so I think I will postpone any possible reoccurences until a much later date.

Hannah and I went into town before her tutoring session and took care of the gift shopping, plus buying a skirt she had tried on with her friend last week and going to the library. I want to redo the wallpaper on a few walls and paint, so I went looking for a do-it-yourself book; on a nearby shelf, Hannah found a book about XXSmall houses and flipped through the whole thing while waiting for me. John and I had seen a segment on CNN International a while back about a micro-house in Tokyo, but it wasn't nearly as interesting as some of these. That one was tiny but functional, while some of these were more like architectural experiments. Hannah and I agreed that we probably wouldn't enjoy living in the house that had glass walls all the way around that could be slid back, leaving one whole side of the house open to the elements (and a sloping hill, if I remember correctly).

I think we will be getting a new washing machine soon. Ours has stopped spinning. I had to finish washing the last load by hand, and it was a complete pain in the ass. Thank goodness for technology! I just don't like the idea of tossing out the old one when it looks like it is in such good shape. But as John said, the repairs are so expensive (400+ last time for a heating thingie), it kind of doesn't make sense to keep paying to repair it when it is probably designed for obsolescence by year 10 (we are in year 7). I don't know--it just seems so wasteful to toss all that metal and other material. I wish I knew how to repair it myself.

I *did* manage to improve our toilet situation, I think. (So far, so good.) During the change of seasons, the handle tends to stick. I think it has something to do with warmth + humidity. Anyhow, it was sticking, and then it wasn't, but it was still gurgling for a long time after flushing. I pulled off the wall cover (the handle is set into the wall above the bowl and the tank is inside the wall) and discovered that it was just really gross back there in the tank, with lots of brownish goop and blackish moldy stuff on the bits. I sprayed everything down with bleach water and scrubbed as many pieces as I could reach with an old toothbrush, then I poured bleach into the tank and let it sit for a while. I also found a valve that controls the amount of water flowing into the tank and turned it so it would fill faster. A few flushes later, and everything seems to be back to normal.

While I was messing with the bleach, I also cleaned some gunk off the rubber seal at the top of the bathroom window, above the shade I put in there a while back. I had to pull the shade out of its brackets to do it, but now it won't roll up all the way. The stupid thing is *designed* to let you pull it out of the brackets without breaking it, but I guess no one told the shade that. grrr...

I haven't decided if I am going to watch the royal wedding tomorrow. I'm sure that it will be on several channels, so I will probably see some of it in any case, just during the course of Hannah's last day of school vacation and tv freedom.

--Nee in Germany is too tired to think of a pithy sign-off

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Shopping and nature and more

While John was away in Rome, the biker boots he ordered from the U.S. came. He has been wearing these Doc Martens for several years with his dressy work clothes, but a hole has developed where there is a crease across the top of his foot. For some reason, he fixated on buying biker boots as a replacement (after determining that it there are no Doc Martens to be found here in HD), even insisting that they'll go with his work khakis. Riiiight. Anyway, he and Hannah are the clotheshorses of the family, so I guess they can do what they like. I just wish it wouldn't entail special ordering things like biker boots from the U.S. and having to pay the price of the boots in shipping.

We have a bat up under the roof of our upper balcony again. Or rather, we had one; I haven't seen it in the last week. I tried to take a photo of it, but our camera couldn't handle the dim light and extreme contrast between white stucco wall and dark brown wood ceiling, so I ended up with a blurry blob. I am actually not all that sad it is gone, because I just got around to cleaning up *cough* a few years' worth of bat poop off our balcony floor. Luckily, it was concentrated in one area under that crack in the wall, but still.

John was excited to find a salamander on the parking lot when we came home from lunch with one of his colleagues and a trip to the grocery store yesterday. He insisted that Hannah run upstairs and get the camera, even getting a bit shirty when I refused to let him put it in the cooler with our frozen foods to take it upstairs. He loaded the video Hannah shot on his computer, so I don't have it here to post, but if you are friends with him on facebook, you can get a look at it.

I pointed out several escargot crawling around in the weeds and along the wall edging the parking area, but I guess he didn't find them worthy of being filmed. If you're not bright black and yellow, you're nothing, is the lesson to take away from this.

John makes sure we have our queue at LoveFilm updated so we don't miss out on any classics like Nuns on the Run. He and Hannah had already started it when I joined them, right as Hannah was complaining about the lack of nuns when she had been promised nuns, right there in the title! She has pretty high standards, you see.

Today is Easter. As one of the high holy days (or whatever they're called), it has a special status around here; by law, public dancing is illegal. I think that may vary from state to state, but I saw a couple of different tv programs last week where dance club owners and others complained about what they saw as an out-of-date and biased law (museums, opera houses, and movie theaters are allowed to stay open and provide other forms of entertainment). Hannah is already planning to learn to river dance so she can dance in protest next year. I'm surprised she's not trying to master Dance Dance Revolution for this year, but she found it challenging and gave up pretty quickly when she got it for xmas this past year.

The lunch yesterday with John's colleague was nice. She is from northern Germany and made us a couple of specialties from there: Scandinavian-style shrimp soup, shrimp on toast covered with melted cheese, and pickled herring. Hannah is not a fan of melted cheese or chunks of fish, but she managed to eat enough or decline politely enough that our host's feelings didn't get hurt. I think Hannah was able to make the extra effort because our host had made a special point of telling her how displeased her own children were that we were coming on a day when they wouldn't be there (due to custody arrangements) and how earnestly they begged her to arrange a time for Hannah to come hang out with them. So Hannah is going to go over tomorrow afternoon to play video games and such. They are really nice kids, and I am glad they all hit it off so well when we've visited back and forth in the past.

--Nee in Germany promises not to let John buy chaps or a leather vest next, even if she has to hide his credit card