Monday, November 26, 2012

Too weird

I set up a blog for one of my classes, and while troubleshooting something for a student, I discovered that I had already created a blog for my other gmail account, although I do not remember doing it. Behold!

Why I decided to create a revenge blog from the perspective of our (now deceased) cat, I'll never know.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Well this is embarrassing...

Hello? Anybody still out there? It looks like my last post was in April of this year, so I don't blame people for wandering off to more lively pastures in the meanwhile. Lots has happened since April, but maybe I'll just hit the highlights for now.

We bought a house and moved 20 km away.

Goodbye, old house!

Hello, new house!

In the midst of all the packing and paperwork, we shipped Hannah off to spend August with our family in Texas and Louisiana.

She enjoyed herself and was spoiled shamelessly by all the family.

We got a kitten that John has christened Freya. She is frisky and friendly and a welcome change from Eliza, who has ensconced herself in a closet since the day we moved in, *7 weeks ago*.

We decided when we bought the house to rent out an apartment in it as a vacation apartment. It occurred to me that I now officially have 3 jobs: a half-time teaching job, a part-time freelance translating/editing job, and an infrequent (so far) job as the proprietor of vacation accommodations. Whew! No wonder I'm so busy!

Now that I've broken the blogging ice after my lengthy dry spell, I'm not going to make any outrageous promises about blogging every day. That would be crazy! (given my track record.) Instead, I figure that if Mimi Smartypants can manage it once a week or so, so can I.

-Nee in Germany took the day off

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hermit twins, activate!

John and I have been pulled out of our hermit-y ways recently. John went to a conference in Freiburg and brought back a friend and colleague from Texas.

Hannah sandwiched between John and John

We had a nice visit for a couple of days before he flew back out.

Here's a picture of the whole family on the same walk:


This was at the end of the first week of the semester, and I wasn't even feeling crazy. At the end of the second week--still not crazy!--I saw a poster for a Gaelic music concert hosted by the local German-British club and suggested to John that we go. 1. We both like Gaelic music (Scottish music, The Chieftans, etc.). 2. It was very inexpensive. 3. John wanted to go to an organ concert on Sunday, and this was a good alternative, because a. I am not such a big fan of organ music and b. that would have been 20 bucks a head. Ouch! For 3/4 of that price we were able to attend the Gaelic concert, have drinks, and buy their CD. You can hear a few of their songs on their MySpace page: Lily & Co.

This weekend we are cat-sitting, and we also have to get out for a big shopping run across town. That may make me crazy. John caught just part of my conversation with Hannah on the topic yesterday: "Who are you going to kill?" Me: "Everyone in the MediaMarkt." Him: "Oh, ok." Not my all-time favorite place, but I think I am well equipped to deal with it today.

Ok, onward and onward.

--Nee in Germany thanks the 7 dwarves for the sunshine

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Goodbye Easter, Hello Spring!

For the first time in a long time, I took the whole weekend off. It helped that I was kind of forced to by the Easter holidays. Here in Southern Germany, it is a 4-day weekend, so we had to hit the store for our weekly shopping on Thursday before everything shut down. I worked a bit on Friday, and then I could do whatever I wanted for the rest of the weekend. The world of possibilities was a bit overwhelming, to tell the truth. But I was able to narrow the list down pretty quickly by finishing a sewing project.

Baby blanket

I crocheted the last few rows, wove in the many, many loose ends, and washed the blanket, so now it is ready to go in the mail to another friend whose wife is expecting in June, I think. I'm thinking it should get there in plenty of time, but one should never underestimate the power of the Postal Service to screw shit up.

I also dug out a dishcloth I had started. I am trying to learn to knit, so I have been working my way through a book of 16 different dishcloth patterns. I bought some cotton yarn in bulk, and I think I have enough to make 8 cloths. Which is good, because Germans don't seem to use dishcloths--at least, I can't find any to buy--and ours are getting threadbare. This ends up being a two-fer for me.

knit dishcloths

Many moons ago, I started recovering the cushions on our dining room furniture but never got around to finishing them. That was the third sewing project I pulled out. Unfortunately, since it was Easter weekend and Germans take their quiet hours *very* seriously, I decided to wait to pull out the noisy sewing machine. But I will probably do that the end of this week or next weekend. Also, all that pinning and cutting of upholstery material was making my hands sore, so it was just as well that I only put in an hour or 2, tops.

The one thing I could work on without making a lot of racket, though, was cleaning the bathroom floor. I have become obsessed with getting the grout in the upstairs bathroom clean. I don't know who planned this place, but the rooms downstairs have light tile with dark grout, and the bathroom upstairs (there's carpet in the other rooms) has light tile with white grout, and it looks grimy all the time. So I bought some grout cleaner recently and have taken to working on small areas that look especially grimy in between my editing work. Then over the weekend I put in quite a bit of time and elbow grease scrubbing that cleaner into the grout and washing it back off. I haven't finished the whole bathroom yet, but the results are much better than I had hoped for. (A few weeks ago I made a similar attack on the shower stall. I guess Spring Cleaning is here.)

Hannah decided that there were certain meals she wanted to eat and she would cook them herself, so John and I are off the hook this week. She made up a meal list and grocery list, we took her to the store on Thursday, and she has been (mostly) in charge of the kitchen. So far, we've had delicious meatloaf and mashed potatoes, homemade meatball pizza, and a pasta dish with basalmico vinegar and turkey that she came up with herself. Talented!

In between all the scrubbing and sewing, I managed to put some time in to get my Animal Crossing account up to snuff. But then yesterday I actually had to work--the horror!--and by the time I was finished and wanted to play a little AC, John and Hannah had the tv tied up with one of the Dan Brown movies. So sad. But Hannah would watch Ewan McGregor reading the phone book, so it was to be expected.

Today I need to work on my course planning. The semester starts next week, and John will be gone at a conference, so I have to have my ducks lined up before then if I want to keep a grip on everything. And now I'm off to plan.

--Nee in Germany makes the other characters on Animal Crossing say "I suck" just because she can

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Walker, Texas Woman

I need to get more exercise. One of my doctors basically said I was perfectly healthy but small and noodly and would greatly benefit from getting in better shape. I really thought I had been bopping along about the same, but when I had a chance to get on Wii Fit, it told me I had lost like 7 pounds since the last time I'd been on it, which was back in July. Considering that I had probably put on a few pounds from indulging while in Texas, I probably dropped more than 7 between the time we got back and January or February (whenever it was). Considering that I was sitting at my desk almost that whole time, I wouldn't be surprised if that was all muscle mass.

Alas, I do not really care for exercising, but though I like Wii Fit, I haven't been able to work it back into my schedule. So I have been randomly doing calisthenics and spastically dancing to try to add some muscle to my flabby self. Hannah probably wishes I would save the dancing for when she's not around, judging by her permanently cocked eyebrow. And I wish I had a solid gold toilet, but what are you going to do?

Once I got the last big job done, I wasn't having to rush home from working in town (only once a week, but still), so I could add in some walking in the course of running some overdue errands. Only, the first time I tried, my knee seized up, bad. It hurt so bad, I wanted to cry, but I had to drag myself to the bus stop to get home. It had given me some troubles when John and I had gone for a walk a couple of weeks ago, but we were walking down a steep hill when it happened, so I chalked it up to walking down a 45 degree angle (maybe not quite that steep, but close). It's happened before, but I thought it was my shoes that time. This most recent time, the muscles above and below my knee were also hurting, kind of a cramped, burning sensation. Total suck-o. But that made me realize that it wasn't my shoes, and maybe it was just some kind of muscle spasm from being out of shape/working for hours at my desk before heading out/dodging dumb-bunnies in the street. Yesterday and today I made the same trip on foot across downtown and was so relieved--no cramp. Even after I loaded myself down with library books and a hardware catalog. But I had had a little extra exercise in the meanwhile...

On Sunday, the weather was gorgeous, and John started feeling cooped up in the apartment (John stir-crazy on a Sunday afternoon? Never, I say!). He couldn't talk Hannah into coming with us (she's on Easter vacation and plans to squeeze out every minute of lazing about she can manage), but the two of us headed into the woods with a camera, binoculars, and an incomplete map. We hiked for *miles* (John's guess was 5). But at one point, after we had been underway for about 2 hours, we spotted some houses through the trees below us and wondered if we were already within viewing distance of the river. It turned out we were *right above our house*. We could see the houses that face ours across the street. I could have cried. It's so hilly, there is no direct way to get anywhere, so we had been circling higher up the hill *behind* the hill behind our house. Luckily, my legs were in pretty good shape except for some soreness in my right hip right up until the point we had to walk steeply downhill. My knees weren't too happy about that, but they didn't try to go on strike or anything, which would not have been fun in the middle of the woods.

Anyhoo, it was a bit cooler than I had been expecting, so I had to drop the pine cones I had been carrying to shy at John when he misbehaved so I could put my hands up my sleeves, but the cooler weather meant there weren't many other hikers out and about that day. We saw 3 deer running! It was so quiet, and they were down below the path we were on, and I only noticed them when John pointed them out, running through the still-leafless trees. It was such a serene scene. I didn't even try to take a photo; I just enjoyed it. But here are some photos of trees, to prove we were there.

in the woods behind our house

in the woods behind our house

in the woods behind our house

in the woods behind our house

in the woods behind our house

--Nee in Germany says there's a fungus among us and cracks herself up

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Keeping out of trouble

My most recent sewing project has been a baby blanket for a coworker. He and his wife are expecting a baby boy in a couple of weeks, so I made them this:

Crochet project

When I gave it to him at work today, I neglected to mention that I sat up watching murder mysteries/cop procedurals (or as we call it, "dead bodies is on") with Hannah while I worked on it. I won't be able to see a dead hooker on Law & Order without thinking about soft baby yarn, though.

I threw some seeds into the planters on the balcony, which have started to sprout. I think I've got a couple of kinds of lobelia and some 'summer fragrance' mix. There's supposed to be more winter weather on the way over Easter, but maybe not this far south. I'm not too worried about it, though. If they croak, I'll get more seeds at the grocery store, where I do almost all my seed shopping.

John's making some delicious pork and pesto dish, so I'll be following my nose down to the table.

-Nee in Germany got more yarn where that came from

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Bloobity blee

This is the requisite "I'm not dead" post after a 3-month absence. I keep thinking of things I'd like to write about, but then not doing it, so now it feels weird to be writing without a prompt, so to speak.

I finished all my teaching/grading commitments for the last semester, just in time for the next semester to start in 2 weeks. But that means I still have some time to plan out my courses more thoroughly than I did last semester. Having already been through them once, I have more of an idea of what needs extra attention, etc.

I also finished a big editing job and got it out the door. Now I am editing an additional long chapter for a book I had finished editing 2 years ago but that has still not gone into print. I am making steady progress on it and should have it finished sometime this week.

I've still got bits and pieces coming in as part of the huge translating job John and I did over the winter. Luckily, the bulk of it for the most recent batch is for translating in the other direction (from English to German), so a colleague is doing that for me.

I also got a heads up on a translating gig from a colleague at the hospital, but I was so busy at the time that I really couldn't take it on, even though it is on a topic I am interested in and thought I could do a very good job on. So I was pleasantly surprised when the person replied that she would get back in touch later. I think that, being relatively new to the freelance business, I am still trying to overcome the urge to hoard work, even if taking it all on would negatively impact my quality of life. I am also trying to be realistic with myself when it comes to assessing how much time a job will take. So it was a big step for me to tell her that I was busy until X date, knowing that I could be losing the work. Her response, though, was confirmation that I had made the right choice, one I will be less nervous about making again in the future.

When I am in the middle of a big job and am trying to spend my working hours on that and nothing else, I start to feel like I am fraying around the edges because I feel like I am losing sight of the big picture. When I finished that last big editing job, the first thing I did was straighten and clean my office. That improved my mood by leaps and bounds. (It also helps that I'm getting lots of direct sunlight in my office these days. Ahhh!) Now I am trying to schedule my work following the motto on my friend's fortune cookie: Always under-promise and over-deliver.(I had also read a less succinct version from an editing colleague, but this makes a nice sign in my office, along with "Don't be an asshole" and "Is this bullshit?" I like to practice tough love with myself.)

Non-work (I am sure there are finer distinctions I could make between my various activities, but this is simplest.)
John got me a Kindle for xmas, and my lovely MIL sent money, so I invested it in a Kindle subscription to a southern German newspaper. I LOVE newpapers and magazines, but there are just not enough hours in the day to get through all the articles. I have been staying up later than is my wont just to flip through all the article titles for the day and to read 10 or 15 of the more interesting ones. Thank the 7 dwarves it doesn't include the Sunday edition, or I wouldn't do anything but read the newspaper all weekend.

Instead, I am reading Debt, by David Graebers, also on my Kindle. I am also crocheting a baby blanket for a friend, and I am amazed how well the two work together. The blanket pattern is very simple, so I don't have to look down very often, and once I got the Kindle balanced where I could read it without twisting around, it stayed in place, unlike a book. Every minute or so I have to remove my hand from my crochet to "turn" the page, but that is just a matter of pushing a toggle switch on the side of the Kindle. It's working great!

Now that the ice is broken, I'm going to make an effort to post more often. I have some ideas of what I want to post, so once I get a little organized, I should be getting more content up.

Nee in Germany needs a sandwich

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rolling along

It takes a while to get out of bunker mentality after you've finished a big job, but it is slowly coming along. I got out a couple of pieces of paper and started making various lists yesterday, and a lot of things have actually gotten crossed off the lists this weekend. Of course, today I am sore after vacuuming every nook and cranny in the house (except my office, dammit!) and squatting to clean a couple of spots on the floor. But groceries have been bought, overripe fruit has been transformed into tasty cookies, and the paper and cardboard of the shopping season have been wrangled and will be going into the recycling shortly. John even took down the xmas lights from outside and got the xmas ornaments box sealed and ready to go down to the cellar.

Hannah is preparing for the last of this round of tests (roughly midterms) at school, with quite a bit of prodding from us.

John and I have 3 weeks left before classes are out. I'm looking forward to the break. I wasn't planning to continue teaching but have changed my mind and have agreed to 2 more semesters. We'll see how it goes. I have received the results of my student surveys already but haven't looked at them yet. I guess I will wait until the end of the semester to see what they had to say.

I have had quite a bit of other work come in, so that was the basis for the second list, just to stay organized. I feel more in control if I have a list, so I am hoping to get everything done in a timely manner with the help of a single piece of paper.

I need to start keeping a piece of paper to list items to post about, so each entry is not a repeat of the one before. We are just that boring, I am afraid.

-Nee in Germany is a worker bee

Monday, January 02, 2012

Blog or work? hmmm...

By my long-term absence here, you can tell that work won out over blog for most of fall 2011. But now that the big job of last fall is done and I have some grading to catch up on, blog can take its rightful place in the pantheon of work-avoidance tasks.

John and I took on a BIG translating job that was due in mid-December, and as the deadline drew nearer, we found ourselves putting in 40-hour weeks on the translating in addition to our teaching jobs (him full-time, me part-time). It was hard to enjoy the holiday season when our normally cheer-inducing advent's calendars

...were reminders that we were one day closer to our doom. DOOOOM!

This is what my office looked like afterward:
All those bits of paper taped on the glass to the right are the various items that were completed over the course of our project. They started on the pinboard behind my laptop and got taped on the glass when they were done. And of course there was always a new bit of paper to take their place, until xmas eve, that is. Booyah!
Hannah was basically a feral child during this period. (What else is new?) She is getting so grown up that we could trust her with things like arranging for take-out for us or cooking dinner. She really was a big help.

I barely had time for keeping us clothed and fed, much less cleaning or baking, but I did manage this:
Those are the poinsettias I forced. Luckily, they live in my office, so when it started to get dark in the late afternoon, I would just throw a couple of plastic blags over them to block out any other light and keep working. Then in the morning, pull the bags off and work some more. The red one has bigger, showy-er blooms, but the pink one makes up for it by putting out smaller blooms all over. I didn't think the pink one would manage it this year, but it was just a slow starter. I probably didn't pay more than 3 bucks each for them at the grocery store back when I bought them, and I actually have no idea what I am doing with them. I think you are supposed to let them "rest" with a cool period after they bloom, something something, but I just keep watering them all year round.

That's what I do with the mystery citrus, too. Now I know not to freak out when the leaves fall off despite the watering and some sticky, webby stuff starts showing up on the tips of the stems. Neither of those things has killed it yet. And now I have 2 new mystery citrus plants.
I threw some seeds in my balcony planters upstairs, but then the wooden railing on the outside edge started to break apart, so I set the planter on the floor of the balcony and forgot about it. Imagine my surprise when I peeked outside and saw a little tree sprouting. I scooped it into a pot, and after a while more little trees started sprouting out of that pot. The rest were pretty puny, so I recycled them, but this is what I have left for the moment.

I got a Kindle for xmas, and now I am off to add something to it, another worthy work-avoidance task.