Dixie Peach: February 2005

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Aunt Cora

I just adore my Aunt Cora.

She's my dad's younger sister and for all my life she's been the best aunt I could ask for.

When I was very young she always seemed very glamorous to me. Her hair was always just so (and still is) and her clothes were very stylish. I remember her wearing make-up and perfume all the time and to me she was just the epitome of chic. To this day Dove soap reminds me of her and it's why I use it myself. The smell just makes me think of her and it comforts me.

She has always spoiled me too. Not in an overt way but she has always tried to give me or do for me just what I wanted and it was her way of letting me know she loves me and wants me to be happy. As a little girl I loved to go grocery shopping with her because, unlike going shopping with my mom, Aunt Cora would let me pick out pretty much whatever I wanted. Now I don't get the treat of picking out my favorite cereal with her but instead she spoils me in other ways.

I was back in my hometown for a visit in November and my darling friends from around the country were coming in to visit me. I wanted so much for Aunt Cora to meet them and I wanted to show her off as well so I invited her to come along with us to dinner. She was scheduled to work that night but instead of disappointing me she arranged to switch her shift with someone else and she came to dinner with us. She knew it would make me happy and so she was going to do it for me and I couldn't have loved her more for it.

Aunt Cora has lived in the same Mississippi town her whole life. She's very much what people envision of a lady of the South. She's gracious and hospitible and she's a wonderful cook. She'll run around making sure you've had second helpings of everything before she'll sit down and eat herself. Taking care of her guests is important to her and she's soft spoken and gentle. And just when you think you have her pegged as such a lady that butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, she'll come up with something so opposite of the stereotypical Southern lady that you are caught between being stunned and braying with laughter.

As we were riding to the restaurant the night my friends arrived, we had to pass a wood pulp factory. Stinks to high heaven and it never fails to gag me. We were commenting on the horrible stench when Aunt Cora, as matter-of-fact as could be said "If y'all need to pass gas, now would be the time to do it!".

Classic. Classic Aunt Cora humor.

Aunt Cora and my mother are close - closer than many other sisters-in-law. They're also very nearly the same age with Aunt Cora being just seven weeks older than my mom - and to my mom that seven weeks may as well be seven years. She loves to point out that Aunt Cora is older. They have a yearly tradition at birthday time of finding the funniest, most cutting birthday cards rubbing in how old each of them is. They run pretty much neck and neck regarding who gives the funnier, more insulting card but last year Aunt Cora beat her hands down in the "you're the old one" race.

My mom had been in the hospital and when released Aunt Cora picked her up. A nurse's aide waited with my mom while Aunt Cora brought the car around. It was a warm day and the windows were down in the car and just as Aunt Cora pulled up the aide said "Ma'am, here's your daughter now.". Mother, wavering between being irked and being amused said "That's not my daughter - that's my sister-in-law!" and all the while was praying that Aunt Cora hadn't heard what the aide said.

No such luck for Mother. While the nurse's aide was dying of embarrassment and my mother was cringing from the comment, Aunt Cora, having heard every word, bound out of the car and ran up to the nurse's aide, arms open wide saying, "Darlin', let me hug your neck for that!" and laughed in that adorable way that only Aunt Cora can laugh.

I'd have paid money to have seen that myself.

Aunt Cora has always been my favorite aunt and when my own nephews and neice came along I told myself that I wanted to be an aunt like Aunt Cora. I wanted to be the fun one, the one that didn't seem stuffy and uptight, the one who would spoil them and let them get away with stuff. My sister's son has been around Aunt Cora since the day he was born and she's like another grandmother to him so he knows just how fabulous having an Aunt Cora can be.

The best compliment he could ever give me was when he told me that I really was like Aunt Cora to him.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Ten random things

1. The cold thing seems to be pretty much over. More Kleenex in the world for everyone else.

2. So is this knitting thing I'm into now just a phase or am I actually going to develop it into a lifetime hobby? As of now it seems like the latter. Unlike other handcraft hobbies I've had in the past, this one seems to be something that combines something I may actually have a talent for with being something that I can do without it being too tedious or too time consuming. It's actually nice to be able to knit a few rows while I have the time and then put it down again. Can't do that with cross stitch. Not unless you like dragging the thread out over and over and putting the cloth in and out of the hoop.

I did find a pattern last night for a cowl that looks like it will challenge me to a whole new level without being impossible to accomplish. I'm slightly intimidated by it now but the nice thing about knitting is that if it sucks, you can unknit it or simply rip it out and start again.

3. If I lived in Mainz, I'd be dead tonight. I just know it. I'm convinced that if I lived there that I wouldn't have been able to resist going out on my balcony and a Secret Service sharp shooter (and yes, I'm inviting you to say that five times fast) would have made mush out of my head.

George W. was in Mainz today and nearly the whole city has been in lockdown. Sections of the city have been closed down for his safety - businesses closed, no cars allowed on the roads, people being forbidden to go out on the streets or their balconies or to even open a window. And that's where I'd get in trouble. Just as sure as hell someone tells me not to go out on my own balcony is the moment where I will just have to. Just to prove that they're not going to tell me what I can and can't do with my own balcony.

Tell me it's not ironic that he touts freedom and liberty being spread all around the world (and don't get me wrong - I'm all for every citizen of the world to have freedom and liberty) and then because he's visiting people are being told they must stay indoors between the hours of 7am and 7pm. Freedom's on the march...except when W's in town.

4. One of the sweetest times I've had recently was sitting with my sister in the Cross City Grille having lunch.

5. How did I function before we had a hard drive recorder? Video is dead, people!

6. I love Fossil watches. They've never lasted me and I've even had the hands fall off of them but I love them. Back in my working days when I lived in the US I had a big collection of Fossil watches, most of them being the limited edition novelty ones. Somehow though they got lost. I assume my ex-husband has them or had them anyway. Damn. I'd love to have my pink leather banded Barbie 40th anniversary watch. Or my Flintstones watch with the dancing Fred and Barney.

7. Askme how much I loved Bayern-Münich beating Arsenal last night. Go on. Ask me. I FREAKING LOVED IT!!

8. I'm just going to say it. I'm finally going to come clean with myself and be completely honest and just go ahead and admit it. Most people who have owned Jeeps - and I'm talking about CJs or Wranglers, not Cherokees or Libertys or the like - most people who owned Jeeps tend to go on and on about how they loved their Jeep.

I am different.

While I will admit that one's reading on the Groove-O-Meter tends to go up when they're driving a Jeep, I will go further and say that I really pretty much hated my Wrangler. It's not that I didn't try to love the bitch but there were some pretty annoying ass things about that beast.

Number one, it's fucking noisy. Freaking ragtop Jeeps are freaking noisy. You do tend to get numb to it after a while but I realized how loud it was one time when I was driving a decrepit company car back when I worked for a power company and I was marveling at how quiet it was. The other people in the car with me looked at me like I was insane.

Number two, you go broke replacing the tops. You can take the best care of them but eventually the windows turn into yellowing, murky can-see-dick-out-of-'em nightmares. It's like driving a cataract on wheels. And don't even mention to me the time my window cracked in half on a cold day when I pulled it in to get my arm out to pay a toll. Oh! Oh! And how about the time when I was driving about 60 MPH down a winding-ass road and the top ripped off from where it clipped to the windshield?

Number three, they're cold. Mine had a blasting heater but for the most part, they're cold. Drafty, cold and downright uncomfortable.

Number four, they're a pain to wash. You have to wash the top and the windows just so and forget going to a carwash. Thank God I had a charcoal gray Jeep that didn't show dirt very well.

I just didn't dig my Jeep experience. It was sorta cool to wave at other Jeep drivers but not worth it in the long run. Maybe I'd feel differently had I owned a hard top. I blame my ex-husband for that boneheaded decision. But then I blame him for all boneheaded decisions. My priviledge for him now being my ex-husband.

9. scares the wee out of me. I'll get hung up reading one of those stories and end up being scared of my own shadow. I still get freaked out reading about the Zodiac Killer just like it freaked me out when I was a kid. That guy's gotta be dead now, right? Right? I mean at least he's not anywhere near Germany. Right? Right?

10. My apologies to anyone who has recognized that this blog entry sounds like that lame-ass random thoughts thing Larry king used to write for USA Today. God help me if I'm turning into that dried up old frog.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Robitussen on the rocks with a twist, please

Sorry for the absence, folks, but I've been sick. Along with fifty percent of Germany. The cold and flu season is running with abandon here.

Normally I can avoid getting a cold. Haven't had one in years. I am at home a great deal of the time plus I'm a religious hand washer (as opposed to a religious foot washer - being from the South will help you get that reference). Couldn't be avoided this year. Everyone's sick and their germs were simply gunning for me.

Thursday before last I had to run down to the hospital to the Clinic of Dermatology and Venerology to have my neck-cyst-wound-thing checked. Yes, that damn thing is still not healed. It's evidently not supposed to heal yet. It's purpose is to heal as slowly as possible so I may wear a bandage on the back of my neck like a short, white Marsalas Wallace. Having seen Pulp Fiction will help you get that reference.

Normally I wouldn't have minded the long wait to see the doctor. I was reading my book (Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal - fabulous book, by the way) and was painfully unaware of the plethora of germs around me. God only knows how I could have been unaware of them, what with the snotting and sniffing and hacking and every other unpleasant cold-related noise a person can make all around me. Okay yes, I'll admit I heard it but in my I-never-get-a-cold conceit I believed that they were bouncing off me unable to penetrate my defenses like bullets off of Superman's chest.

Okay, who's the smart ass who put kryptonite in my pocket?

So come Saturday morning I was suffering from the sore throat and fever thing soon to be followed by the stuffy nose and extreme fatigue thing. And thank God I have a wonderful mother-in-law who was happy to fetch me medications from the pharmacy and would cook for me and pick up my mail and bring me stuff from the grocery store. She was a life saver. And I'm even more grateful for the fact that, while B did get the cold from me, it was very mild and he's pretty much over it all.

I'm also thanking God that it was only a cold that I caught. When picking up germs and assorted funk in a place called the Clinic of Dermatology and Venerology, you could seriously be courting some henious disaster.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Die Gedanken sind frei

Die Gedanken sind frei, wer kann sie erraten,
Sie fliehen vorbei, wie nächtliche Schatten.
Kein Mensch kann sie wissen, kein Jäger erschießen,
mit Pulver und Blei: die Gedanken sind frei.

(The thoughts are free, who can guess them?
they fly around like shadows in the night
Nobody can know them, no hunter can shoot them
with powder and lead, the thoughts are free)

Ich denke, was ich will, und was mich beglücket.
Doch alles in der Still und wie es sich schicket.
Mein Wunsch und Begehren kann niemand verwehren.
Es bleibt dabei: die Gedanken sind frei.

(I think what I want, what makes me happy
what is peaceful and what the future will bring
my wishes and desires no one can deny
it stays always, the thoughts are free.)

Und sperrt man mich ein im finsteren Kerker,
das alles sind rein vergebliche Werke.
Denn meine Gedanken zerreißen die Schranken
und Mauern entzwei. die Gedanken sind frei.

(Even if you lock me up in the darkest prison
and this would be useless
because my thoughts would break every barrier
and wall in two, the thoughts are free.)

Drum will ich auf immer den Sorgen absagen,
Und will mich auch nimmer mit Grillen mehr plagen.
Man kann ja im Herzen stets lachen und scherzen
Und denken dabei: die Gedanken sind frei.

(For this I refuse all my worries
and I don't want to torture myself with heavy burdens
you still can deep in your heart laugh and smile
and keep thinking the thoughts are free).

This is an old German song called Die Gedanken sind frei and I tried to translate to give at least the sense of the words if not the exact translation. Sorry I couldn't make it rhyme in English. I only recenly discovered this song as it's being currently used in a TV commercial for a email service. The song haunted me from the first time I heard it and I looked it up to see the word to the whole song and find out in general more about it.

B thought the song was around 75 or 100 years old but I found that the song comes from the early 18th century and the original inspiration for it came from a 12th century minstrel song. Think about it. The 12th century. In 1100-something-or-other people were singing about the idea that our thoughts are free. That they are unlimited. That they can't be trapped or caged or walled in. That we need to smile and remember that our thoughts are free. Nine-hundred years ago someone somewhere was trying to remind people that our thoughts are free.

So why in this age of enlightenment and split second communications and ability to speak instantly with people on the other side of the planet are people denying themselves and others free thought? Why are we letting people inhibit our thoughts and expressions?

Why are we letting corporations tell us what to think about the world around us and how we need to treat each other and what we need to own to be happy and fulfilled? Why are we letting men of religion tell us what to think about God and salvation and our relationship to Him instead of thinking about what God Himself wants? Why are we letting world leaders tell us how we should view others on this planet? Why do we have our beliefs and thoughts and opinions and let others cow us into being silent because our beliefs and thoughts and opinions don't coincide with theirs?

And why do we cow others who don't think in the same way we do? We stifle them and tell them that they offend us or they offend others or their opinions make us unsafe or they jeopardize our salvation or they cause us to lose money. Our thoughts become narrower and more rigidly defined and anything that strays from that isn't cherished or encouraged. Instead we try to silence them. Not legally. No, we like to whip out phrases like "freedom of speech" because we like it when it works to our advantage but we silence people on other ways. We threaten them with losing their physical freedom. We intimidate them by making them social outcasts. We point fingers at them and tell them they're damned for eternity. We take away their economic freedom and tell them they're not good citizens or Christians or friends or humans. We shame people for their thoughts and end up squashing out any spark of free thought or creativitiy. We don't trust one another enough to realize that just because a thought or opinion doesn't agree with our own that the one in opposition isn't some sort of menace to us.

We don't have to be threatened by the free thinking of others and we don't need to be afraid of our own free thinking. We don't have to be in lockstep with the rest of the world to be happy and to be good people. We can have our own opinions and be proud of them.

I know what I believe to be good or bad and I know not to follow after bad. When I hear an opinion that I find to be objectionable or dangerous I know to turn away from it. And when I hear from others something that threatens the innocent then I know to reject it and do what I can to stop the innocent from being hurt (you listening to me, Osama bin Laden?). But I don't have to doubt my own self and my thoughts just because someone else doesn't understand them or agree with them and I don't have to reject those people because we're in disagreement. Sometimes you have to (still listening, Osama bin Laden?) but many times you don't.

If we intimidate the free thoughts of others then we're going to miss out on some ideas that could save us. We have to trust ourselves and others a lot more.

Die Gedanken sind frei.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Cancel That Packing!

Well shit. We're not going to be able to move after all.

Yesterday my MIL went to the rental office to sign the papers to reserve the third floor apartment for us and was told it was too late. The SOB was already there and signed the papers. First come, first served. Shit.

I was so disappointed. I'd let myself get used to the idea of moving right into a freshly renovated, all neat and tidy and organized apartment. I mean I was seriously bummed out about this. And what bummed me out the most was the idea of being wedged between the zillion kids below us and the screaming SOB and his screaming wife above us.

My MIL did convey this concern to the rental office as well and they advised that if either family is making excessive noise for us not to confront them personally. Instead they want us to document the offense and give them a list of what's happening and they'll take care of it. They'll either have to learn to shut the fuck up and turn down that freaking stereo or they'll be told they have to move. At least I won't have to tolerate thumping music disturbing me.

B and I then talked about the bright side of things. At least now we can find a new kitchen at our leisure. We won't have to pay for movers. We won't have to pack all this stuff up at once. We won't have to pay for rent on two apartments at once. Sure, getting a new kitchen will be inconvenient and so will renovating the livingrooms but it's not impossible. And you know, the third floor apartment may have some bad vibes going on in there. One lady died in there. Other unhappy families have lived there. Who knows? Maybe we'd leave our nice, happy, filled-with-love apartment to move to the entrance to Hell.

I'm over the disappointment now. Especially since not moving means I can buy a new sofa this year instead of waiting a year or two.

You take your comforts where you can find them.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Viva Colonia!

Met ner Pappnas gebore dr Dom en dr Täsch
han mir uns jeschwore:Mer jon unsere Wääch
Alles wat mer krieje künne,nemme mer och met,
weil et jede Augenbleck nur einmol jitt....

Mer jon zom F.C Kölle un mer jon zom KEC
Mer drinke jän e Kölsch un mer fahre KVB
Henkelmännche-Millowisch, bei uns es immer jet loss
Mir fiere jän-ejal of klein of jroß-wat et och koss

Da simmer dabei! Dat is prima! VIVA COLONIA
Wir lieben das Leben,die Liebe und die Lust
Wir glauben an den lieben Gott und hab'n noch immer Durst.

Mer han dä Kölsche Klüngel un Arsch huh- su heiß' et he!
Alaaf op Ruusemondaach nu Aloah CSD
Mer sin multikulinarisch mer sin multikulturell
Mer sin in jeder Hinsicht aktuell-auch eh sexuell!

Da simmer dabei! Dat is prima! VIVA COLONIA
Wir lieben das Leben,die Liebe und die Lust
Wir glauben an den lieben Gott und hab'n noch immer Durst.

Mer lääve hück-nit murje, zo schnell verjeiht die Zigg
L.M.A.A ihr Sorje mer lääve dä Augenbleck
........un dä es jenau jetz'!

Da simmer dabei! Dat is prima! VIVA COLONIA
Wir lieben das Leben,die Liebe und die Lust
Wir glauben an den lieben Gott und hab'n noch immer Durst.

Da simmer dabei!

It's high Karneval season in Germany and Viva Colonia by De Höhner is my favorite Karneval song. Don't ask me what the song says in English. I'm don't even think I could translate it into German very well. It's written in Kölsch, a type of German spoken in Cologne and only those who've grown up there speaking it can really understand it.

Anyway, it's a happy, catchy tune that I love to singly loudly with during the refrain (the only part I understand). It makes me want to go to Karneval in Cologne and find happy, cheerful and drunken crowds singing this song and chime in with them as loud as I can.

And that's one thing I fell in love with right away when I moved to Germany. I love how crowds together for one reason or another, be it Karneval celebration or Oktoberfest or city fairs or just folks in a beer tent will sing together. There are certain songs that are more popular at one time of the year or another (Viva Colonia is a Karneval song but you may still hear it at Oktoberfest) but there are song that are popular at any time and popular regardless of what region you're in. Old Volksmusik song, old Schlager songs, pop songs that got turned into popular sing-along songs - doesn't matter. When the beer is flowing and the mood is good, you'll hear young and old raising their voices - everyone seems to know the lyrics. Strangers link arms and sway or folks will clap loudly and stop their feet while bellowing the lyrics and the more you sing the more fun you have.

It always surprises me how folks can't remember one line from a song but sit them in a beer tent and let them get a liter of Erdinger down them and their memory for song lyrics gets ever sharper. Something about these old tunes that everyone knows gets tattooed onto your brain and you'll find that you can sing "Der Eiermann" with little or no trouble at all.

So if you ever get to an Oktoberfest celebration or better yet to the real Oktoberfest, be sure to sing loud and strong. And if you ever get to Karneval in Germany, I'll bet Viva Colonia will become a favorite tune of yours too.

Kölle Alaaf!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Time to pack up...I think!

I need a new kitchen. A whole new kitchen. New cabinets, new appliances, new everything except a kitchen table. For those who may not know, in Germany people often live in apartments or homes that are just empty shells and you put in your own kitchens and bathroom stuff. Anyway, it's going to be a pain in the ass to put in a new kitchen. There's buying it, getting the delivery arranged and then just before the kitchen is delivered and installed you have to coordinate getting the old kitchen removed, getting new wallpaper and paint, getting new flooring installed, getting electric sockets put in or having the radiator moved a foot this way or that. It's a headache but a necessary one if you ever want to get a new kitchen. Add to that that we also need new carpet and paint in the livingroom and so on and you'll see that we have renovation headaches ahead. It's just a pain to renovate around a quadriplegic.

We found out a couple months ago that the people living above us are moving to a new home. They have a handicap apartment as well and B and I both got the idea to move to their apartment. If we did that the new kitchen could be installed without us being put out here plus all the other renovation could be done in peace. Of course you trade one sort of headache for another - you have to actually pack all your stuff and move, get the utilities changed, etc. but there would be no kitchen downtime nor having to wrap B in plastic to be able to paint the ceiling above him. And then there's the added attraction of getting away from the family living below us - the family with the seven kids. We toyed with the idea and then we sort of put the idea on a back burner until my MIL told us a little tidbit of information that put our collective asses in gear.

Let me give a little background. About three years ago my MIL briefly, briefly dated a man from the neighborhood that B and I refer to as "Pampers Butt". He walks like he's wearing a giant Pampers and it's in need of changing. My MIL quickly found out that this man is not only weird and annoying but he's cloying and irritating and she'd rather shove sharp sticks in her eye than have anything else to do with him.

Pampers Butt's son and DIL live in a nearby building. He had some sort of brain episode - something strokish or whatever - and he's now unable to walk and so on. And to make matters worse, he's a SOB. Not due to his brain episode - he was a SOB before that. Anyway, the SOB and his wife have been over to my neighbor's apartment to check it out to see if they want to live there. This is not good. This is worse than not good, actually. It's not that Pampers Butt will be around here. I mean I'd just as soon tell that guy to fuck off as eat a bug so no worries there but we know from the SOB's neighbors that he screams and rants at his wife all day long and they play loud, loud music.

So let me get this straight. I have the potential to live wedged between the SOB screamer above me and seven screaming kids below me? Not in this lifetime.

My MIL called the rental company (she loves to do stuff like this and she knows [i]everyone[/i] there) and asked if someone has requested my neighbor's apartment, namely the SOB and his wife. Nope. They haven't. Evidently the SOB and his wife were checking things out but as far as the rental company is concerned, that don't mean jack. They own the apartment, not my neighbor, and they decide on who can move in there. And so we put in our request to be put into that apartment as soon as it's vacated. My MIL has to go Thursday to ask about the particulars, but the apartment is pretty much ours if we want it. The SOB has never asked them to let him have it and actually my neighbor has not yet informed them that he's moving.

Now that it's likely going to happen I'm glad we're going to do it. I'm going to be glad to get away from the seven kids and it's nice to be able to renovate in peace. I would think it's likely that the SOB will take the apartment I live in now but it's better to have him below me than above me. Above is always louder than below. And he'd best be warned. People in my building are really loud noise unfriendly. I mean the reason the seven kids family has gotten away with what they have is because I'm the one living above them and I'm extra tolerant and patient about their noise. I will not be tolerant and patient with SOB screaming all day long and playing loud music and neither will any other neighbor - except for Frau Blenk. But Frau Blenk is nearly deaf.

Now we just have to also figure out when my neighbor is moving. It could be in three months or it could be in three weeks. Please don't let it be three weeks. I ain't ready to move yet and I want to pay rent on two units for at little time as possible. Plus, I need to buy a new kitchen!