Monday, January 05, 2015

Avoidance as a lifestyle

Urgh--I soooo do not want to grade papers and presentations, but I have a rather big backlog, and people are going to start wondering about them since classes start back on Wednesday. I'm at the point that I'd like to just set a match to all of it (and Hannah's room while I am at it--I wasn't kidding when I mentioned her hoarding tendencies).

During the xmas holidays, it is traditional for me to subsist mainly on candy and then have to change gears back to normal food in January. This year, I have decided to also cut back on the places where I would normally add sugar--coffee, for instance. I've discovered that I really only need some milk to cut the bitterness. I'm not keen on the idea of how much processing it takes to produce sugar, and cane sugar has the added drawback of not being produced in Europe. I don't actually imagine I can have a modern diet and still only shop locally, but I can make minor changes in both my diet and my shopping habits to feel like I am making some kind of contribution to my own health and the health of the planet. (Maybe it is a drop in the bucket, but I might go more crazy than usual if I don't do anything at all.)

My aunt and mom "fought" for years over ownership of a certain cookbook that contained the recipe for my aunt's famous divinity recipe. I finally got the recipe from her, but in such a stripped-down form (only ingredients, and no specific directions) that it has been a disaster every time I have tried it. So this year I did my own research and found my own recipe (from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook, which is fairly dependable), and I still ended up with egg-white-and-walnut-flavored taffy. I forgot the cardinal rule--no candy-making when it is wet. That is hardly ever a problem in the deserts of West Texas, but in Central Europe, on the shores of a river, during a misty December--yeah, another disaster was inevitable. Moreover, corn syrup, as an American product, is not available here, so that will be my last-ever attempt at divinity, I have decided, for most of the reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph. Otherwise, my stubborn-slash-stupid side would not let me quit until I had finally conquered it.

In the process of wasting those egg whites and so much sugar, I managed to destroy my hand-mixer (stupid, heavy divinity), so now I need to shop for a replacement. I may just get the same one again, if it is available, as it was very reliable, except when I wanted to mix something that was clearly beyond its capabilities. I may get a stand-mixer, too. And a larger food processor. (I currently have just a food-chopper.) John bought me a multi-device several years ago, but the blender function ended up being its downfall. I didn't get the base threaded on properly, and when I tried to blend ice cream in it, the motor ended up soaked in eggs and canteloupe; I couldn't get it open to clean it properly, so I've only used it a few times, when I've felt ambitious and forgetful. Inevitably, it either overheats or the clutch (?) doesn't work properly and it turns too fast, again leading to too much heat. So if anyone has any recommendations, I am all ears. Actually, I will probably just buy a German brand; Bosch is pretty good, and I think I can get it in our local kitchen shop.

We went to our favorite German restaurant last night, and on our way in, we overheard some people in the street talking about "flood tourism". I guess some people had come into town to see the Neckar overflowing its banks. That's an odd reason to come, but if it brings business to our local restaurants afterwards, who am I to complain.

My adventures in puttering this morning included halfheartedly pulling some (but not all!) of the ornaments off the tree, shaking the needles out of the tree skirt so I could put it away, and sweeping the rest of the needles off the floor. Tree pick-up is not until Saturday, so I may have it all done by then at this rate. Now I need to get my shopping list finished so I can go to the post office and the store. Tomorrow I have to be in Frankfurt first thing in the morning with Hannah, so I need to finish up a few things so I don't have anything left to do for our outing.

-Nee in Germany is digging the sunshine that's finally appearing

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Puttering as an extreme sport

Seems I have taken my puttering to a new level. Today I accomplished a lot of little things that needed to be done, but not necessarily right.this.minute. Some of them were to protect my sanity--finding 3 books I know I own but haven't been able to put my hands on in some time, clearing away my literal "to-be-read pile" that had become a tripping hazard next to my bed--while others would be due soon anyway--quarterly tax payments, etc. And others were things we'd been promising to do but just hadn't gotten our asses in gear on; now that my puttering has managed to procure bookcases for Hannah's room, it's her problem to clean out her hoarding and to fill them.

I finally broke down and bought myself a smart phone, since the Crushinator had done in my brick phone and John and I were getting tired of not being able to reach each other since we were passing the other brick phone back and forth. I still haven't actually been carrying it around since 1) I haven't gone anywhere, and 2) my SIM card has only been partially activated, but now that I'll be going back to work next week and the last of the paperwork for my SIM card should go into the mail tomorrow, I'll finally be forced to take it for a spin soon. Maybe I can figure out how to work the Blogger app...

I think I mentioned all the snow we've had. It's been warming up, so we've had a lot of melt-off, then we got a little rain and a lot more snow yesterday. By yesterday evening, the city was warning people to move their cars because the river was expected to flood. Sure enough, the water was up over the divider at the locks this morning. With all the new rain and snow yesterday, we made the executive decision to just eat out this weekend and to do our weekly grocery shopping on Monday. It's my turn, and I wasn't keen on driving down our steep, unplowed, cobblestoned street. It also bought me some more time to make a grocery list.

I spent one whole day catching up on laundry over the break. When it got to the point where I couldn't find one particular pair of pants that I had just had on, I knew I needed to do something to get the mounds of clothes reduced to a livable level.

Hannah's laptop is driving me mad. It acted like it wanted to implode around xmas, and we finally got it up and running again, and now it is starting some of the same shit, 5 hours before she has a paper due. (Yes, she has homework over the holidays. Germany is not quite Korea when it comes to school pressure, but in her final year, it is starting to get up there.) Grrr...

-Nee in Germany is avoiding the inevitable--work