Dixie Peach: January 2006

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

How we began

I'm going to wait until the end of the week to answer most of the questions y'all have been asking but since it's a longer story I'll go ahead and tell the story of how B and I met and got together. I'll try to hit the good stuff and leave out too many details or else you'll be reading until you beg for mercy.

Y'all who already know this story are excused from reading for today.

Back in March, 1996 I was killing time one afternoon by poking around chatrooms on AOL. I'd gone into a Thirtysomething chatroom looking for familiar names and ran across a guy with a German sounding name. I thought that was so cool. There I was in the US and I could chat with a German dude. In Germany! German dude in Germany! Wow! We exchanged hellos and a few other other words and then he said he was leaving for the evening. I still can't say why I did it except it must have been the hand of fate giving me a little push but I sent him an IM and asked him to stick around a bit longer. He did, we chatted and then he said he really had to go but asked me to email him. Later on I found out he didn't expect me to email but that evening I sent him an email introducing myself more fully. He wrote back and we began to meet online on the weekends to chat and we emailed every day. I didn't quite get at first that his English was so shaky but after a few emails I got used to the somewhat weird grammar and spelling (since then he's become fluent but at that time he knew very little English and is self taught).

The weeks passed and we because closer with each email. He then told me he was moving to his summer home for the season but he only had very limited internet access and would only be able to email. Much later - after I'd moved to Germany, actually - I learned that at that time there was no landline phone service at the summer place and in order to be able to email me each day he bought a laptop, a cell phone and a special dial-up modem for the cell phone. He was so afraid of losing me that he spent a small fortune just to send email.

And all this time B was hiding a big secret.

November rolled around and one afternoon while we were chatting online I noticed that he seemed strange and withdrawn. He told me that he had something very important to tell me and didn't know how but he couldn't hide it from me any longer. He was falling in love with me and didn't want to have any secrets from me but had up until then been scared to confess this secret.

Naturally I thought of the usual things. Married. Gay. Married and gay. Ex-con. Oh God, please don't let him be some ex-con pervert!

He'd written me a long email and sent it to me with the plea for me to read it and then to meet him online the next day.

Finding out that B is a quadriplegic wasn't what I was expecting. I suppose I should have been angry that he didn't tell me up front that he was a quadriplegic but as I read his words I understood his hesitation in telling me. In the past he'd meet people online - just people he wanted to chat and be friends with - and when he'd say he was a quad they'd suddenly treat him as though he was a leper. Friendships would abruptly end and B didn't want that to happen with us.

I didn't know what to think at first. Logic would say "Oh you can't fall in love with a quadriplegic!" and my heart would say "Too late. You're already a goner."

We just kept up our relationship and now was my opportunity to find out what his life was like. He had been married when he had his accident at the age of 24 and while he was still in rehab his wife divorced him. B went to live with his parents who devotedly cared for him. By the time I met him B's dad had been dead for 18 months and his mom was doing her best to care for him alone.

More months went by and we were in love but we also knew that meeting in person would really determine if our love was real so we made arrangements for me to fly to Germany in May, 1997 to visit with him and his mom for 12 days. He paid for it all - all I had to do was get a passport and a ride to the airport.

My friend, Susan, so supportive of this crazy romance, was the one to drive me to the airport. We felt fairly certain that I would be just fine but to be on the safe side we made a code to use. My job was to write her regular emails and if all was fine with me I was supposed to write "I'm glad baby Kayla is doing fine.". If I wrote instead "I'm sorry to hear that baby Kayla is so fussy." it meant "These people are insane! Call the embassy! Call my mother! Get me the hell out of here!".

I arrived in Germany tired and anxious and as soon as I came through customs I saw B waiting for me, roses in his lap. And that's the moment I knew I really loved him. All I could think to do was run to him, hug and kiss him and tell him that I was so happy to see him.

I was spoiled during my stay in Germany. I couldn't talk to anyone except for B and I soon found out that him writing in English and speaking English wasn't the same thing. His speaking skills left something to be desired but we managed. And right away I was plunged into life with a quadriplegic. I saw what had to be done to care for him and helped out where I could. Instead of being repulsed or put off it all seemed pretty normal. Maybe that was my biggest confirmation that I truly loved B - when I could see the less than glamorous stuff and not be freaked out.

The day I left to return to the US was awful. B was absolutely heartbroken and I didn't know how to console him. But during that trip I'd made up my mind that I wanted to be with him always and that by Christmas I was going to be back in Germany for good. I promised B with the most solemn promise I could make that I really would be back. How could I not come back and stay? I'd found someone who I was crazy about and who was crazy about me. Someone who wasn't afraid to do everything he could do to make me happy and to show me his devotion. This was the guy who would sit up for four and five hours straight just to write me one email in English. He has trouble sitting upright for so many hours and he'd sweat through two or three t-shirts and his one good arm would shake from the effort of tapping out each key with a pencil stub but by God, he was going to send me an email every day if it killed him. How could I not return to a guy like that?

So I did it. In November, 1997 I moved to Germany. And I have never looked back.

Monday, January 30, 2006

An offer

It occured to me that some of you who read here may have never had contact with anyone who is a para or quadriplegic. Your only exposure may be through Christopher Reeve and watching The Bone Collector on DVD. Some of you may be curious about life as a quadriplegic or what life with a quadriplegic is like and maybe you've even thought to ask me but felt shy or felt as though it would be prying.

I'll make the offer that if you have a question about B and me and how he is and how I take care of him or anything else related that comes to you mind, just leave your questions here in the comments and at the end of the week I'll answer them all. I can't answer for all quadriplegics and those who care for them (although some things are general to most quads) but I'll answer your questions as it relates to our own experience.

So if you want to know how B became paralyzed or how we live or anything else, here's your chance to ask anything you please and I'll try to answer your questions as plainly as possible. Don't feel as though you're being nosy - it's better to get an honest answer and have the knowledge than go around with bad assumptions.

In a moment of weakness

I amaze myself at times.

On a normal day I'll comparison shop with things like shower gel, rejecting bottles that go for 1.50€ in favor of ones going for 1.29€ and pass over the butter selling for 85 cents for the one on sale for 79 cents. B will drink three or four brands of coffee so I tend to buy whichever brand is on sale that week. I'm not cheap or stingy but if there two virtually identical items I'll usually buy the cheaper one.

So tell me why I bought two 89p boxes of PG Tips today and spent 3€ a piece for them. And did it gladly to boot.

And since I wasn't in the mood to be frugal today I bought a new tea tin. I collect them and I haven't bought one in ages so I spluged on a raised tin one shaped like a carousel. We're not even going to discuss how much it cost. Let's just say it's worthy of holding ridiculously priced PG Tips.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Bringing it back

When you're close with a quadriplegic one of your assignments in life is to go outside and then bring back to them what you saw and did while you were out. Bring descriptions or pictures or both but bring back to them what they can't get out to see. This is for B and for Mikki.

Yesterday afternoon I went for a walk down to the Elbe. Since it's been below freezing for over a week now the Elbe has been piling up more and more with ice floes.

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The view from my MIL's livingroom window. The scene changes once you get down to the river.

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Now you can see there's a lot more ice on the river than it appears at a distance.

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All this floating ice becomes round somehow - I assume they bump along each other and round off their corners. And it all makes a loud hissing sound as it flows down the river.

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The ducks were amusing. They'd swim between the floes and then occasionally hop up on one and ride downriver for a while before hopping off again.

This part of the river has old churches lined up along its banks. Farther up the river is the cathedral of Magdeburg and the monastery and on the other side of the market square are these churches.

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This is the Magdelena Kapelle - just a little chapel. I love it but I've never been inside it. I'm not even sure if you can go inside it. I just like that it's so small.

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This is the Petri-Kirche - the church of St. Peter.

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This is Wallonerkirche - the church of the Wallons. See that tall, thin tower in the middle? That's where the Regenmacher, the rainmaker, lives. B grew up about a block and a half from the Wallonerkirche and his father would tell him that the Regenmacher would come down and steal little boys that misbehaved and whisk them away to that tower so he'd better mind himself if he didn't wish to be stolen by the Regenmacher. Until he was about six years old he'd run at top speed every time he had to pass the Wallonerkirche to avoid the chance of being snatched up. Probably not the best idea to tell a little boy such a tale but I reckon it made B behave.

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This is a view of the towers of the Johanneskirche - the church of St. John. The spire on the tower on the left is very new - it had been destroyed in the bombings during the war. The church in general had become heavily damaged during the war and afterwards the communist government left it that way. It wasn't until later that the church was restored. Anyway, when B was about 15 he and some friends went inside the church at night and climbed up that tower on the left - a completely stupid thing to do because it was very dangerous and it was very forbidden to be in there - and peed off the top of the tower. This is proof that the Regenmacher story is made up or he surely would have been snatched away for that.

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The view from my kitchen window. Back home again.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday Shuffle - All German Edition

To celebrate the end of the Bundesliga winter break. And to celebrate Bayern-München kicking Mönchengladbach's butt in their own stadium.
  1. Am Fenster - City
  2. Jesus - Marius Müller-Westernhagen
  3. Alt wie ein Baum - Puhdys
  4. Über sieben Brücke - Peter Maffay
  5. Leb den Tag - Laith Al-Deen
  6. Alkohol - Herbert Grönemeyer
  7. Geh zu ihr - Puhdys
  8. Sterne - Juli
  9. Wenn du schläfst - Söhne Mannheims
  10. Mensch - Herbert Grönemeyer
Let me guess. You English only speakers can figure out only "Jesus" and "Alkohol", right? Some things are truly international.

The winter Olympics are starting soon and it puts me in that weird position I find myself in when I'm watching international sporting events. Most of me wants to cheer for the United States but there's a fair portion of me that wants to cheer for Germany. I feel a bit like a traitor for not being fully behind my mother country but there are some events where Germans tend to perform better than the USA so I tend to lend my support to Germany. While I'd like to get behind Team USA, when it comes to events like biathlon or luge or bobsled, forget it. Still both countries perform well in both summer and winter Olympics and I go ahead and take pride in both coutries. It feels pretty win-win to me.

International soccer is worse. World Cup time rolls around that that's when I really begin to feel disloyal. I want to get fully behind the US. I really do. I watch every one of the games they play and I yell as loudly as I can when they score and when they win and feel bitter disappointment when they lose with one exception.

I confess that when the US plays Germany, I hope the US loses. There. I said it. I suppose I should just turn in my passport now because it's true.

It's not that I don't love my homeland. It's not because I don't think the US has a good soccer team. It's not that I don't think the US deserves to win. Well - that's not exactly true. Maybe they deserve to win but let's be honest - winning soccer matches just isn't important to most Americans. Most Americans don't know dick about soccer, couldn't care less, don't know what the World Cup is, couldn't name any top national teams and don't know the names of their own national team's players. The opposite is true in Germany. Even if you're not normally a regular fan of the sport you can't help but get a little interested when it's time for the European championship or the World Cup and even my MIL knows who Oliver Kahn is. It's the most important sport in Germany and it is truly a big deal if Germany does well or not. Bottom line, it's just more important that Germany wins any match over the USA simply because it means more to the people of Germany than it means to the people of the US.

So my fellow Americans, please don't hate me when I secretly hope that the US doesn't make it out of the opening round of the World Cup. Y'all don't really give a rat's ass about it anyway and it keeps me from having to endure the painful possibility of the US and Germany meeting up in a later match.

Homeland Security's gonna stop me at the border about this, aren't they?

For Kirsti

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'Cause everyone needs to know your team!

Thursday, January 26, 2006


I went today to get my hair cut and colored and it reminded me that one of the worst parts of my relocation to Germany was finding a hairdresser.

When I first arrived B and his mom were getting their hair cut regularly by some woman whose name escapes me. Oh, I remember now. Frau Bitch. That must have been her name because that's certainly what she was. She had been my MIL's hairdresser for years and she would come to the apartment to cut their hair. From the first time she saw me she must have thought I was the spawn of Satan judging by the way she treated me. Curt, rude, snappish - she seemed to resent that I wasn't fluent in German three weeks after my arrival and when I'd try to get B to explain to her how I wanted my hair trimmed she seemed annoyed. I was still in my intimidated-by-everything-in-Germany stage so I'd take the treatment as though I deserved it.

The final straw came when I asked her to layer my shoulder length hair and cut my bangs. Instead of wetting my hair she dry cut it and I was unable to see the results until she was done. Instead of trimmed bangs and a few light layers put in, my hair had large chunks randomly cut from it, some cut up as high as my ear and my bangs resembled Mamie Eisenhower's. I didn't say a word while Frau Bitch was there and even tried to convince myself that it wouldn't be so bad once I washed and dried my hair but by the next day I saw that my hair was ruined and I was in a near constant state of tears.

About two or three weeks after the hatchet job B and I were out together and went to a hair salon that was large enough for him to get his wheelchair in. We begged for me to get my hair fixed and a nice young lady took a look at my hair, pronouced that it had been butchered in a most unkind way and fixed it as best she could. Compared to it's previous weasles-have-been-in-my-hair state it was a grand improvement. B got his hair cut as well the change it made in his appearance was amazing. Finally an up-to-date hairstyle that didn't make him look like he was permanently stuck in 1985.

When Frau Bitch arrived for her scheduled appointment she found that B and I didn't need haircuts and so she only did my MIL's hair. Afterwards she snottily told my MIL that she would never be back and to find another stylist. It was no loss but she was so rude to my MIL that she made my MIL cry - a normally very difficult thing to do.

B and I went to our hair savior for another year until she had to leave the salon to get her Meister license. We tried another local salon and felt reasonably happy with the stylist we began using. For a while.

This new stylist - I'll call her Frau Bossy because that's what she was - didn't do a bad job just as long as what you wanted your hair to look like resembled what she wanted your hair to look like. Time after time I would want a change in hair color only to be told that it wasn't a good choice and she'd make it a color I didn't like on me. Or I'd want a certain style and she'd inform me that it was all wrong for me and the proceed to give me a style that was virtually impossible for me to duplicate for myself at home. I don't know why I kept putting up with her crap for as long as I did except to say that at that time I wasn't comfortable with confrontation in German and I didn't want the hassle of finding another stylist. This, of course, wasn't going to last.

I went to an appointment with Frau Bossy only to be told she was sick that day. No one had bothered to call me to let me know and I was given the choice to either reschedule or have another person cut and color my hair. As I need to be with B most of the time and have to make special arrangement to leave him for more than a brief amount of time I chose to let another stylist do my hair. I didn't know the name of my haircolor and so we picked out what we thought was right and I told the woman to leave my hairstyle as it was and to just shape it up. It wasn't the same work that Frau Bossy would have done but I figured that it was okay - anything wrong would grow back. When I came back six weeks later for my appointment Frau Bossy lit into me for not only using another stylist while she was out sick but that my hair was cut and colored all wrong and it was my fault for allowing it.

She went the same way as Frau Bitch. No confrontation - I just never went back to her salon.

I finally decided to try the obvious choice - the hair salon that is about 25 feet from my old apartment. The moment I went in there I knew things were different. Immediately I liked the atmosphere. It reminded me of the Mini-Box...the hair salon my Aunt Cora in Mississippi has been using for the past umteen years. Everyone was friendly, everything was tidy and most importantly, people talked to me as if they actually gave a damn what I had to say. I'd be asked how I wanted my hair cut and styled and suggestions were given instead of demands. I came out of there knowing I'd found a home for my head.

Now when I go there everyone greets me when I enter like I'm a celebrity. I don't have to fret and worry that if I don't watch Katrin she'll do something heinous to my hair. It's like visiting family.

I don't miss anything about my old neighborhood except that my hairdresser is no longer in my back yard. I have to hop on a streetcar to get my hair done but it's worth it. I couldn't go through the pain of breaking in a whole new hairstylist when I have already found the perfect one for me.

There is a salon that's in the bottom of the apartment building next to mine. And you know when it's freezing cold outside like it was today I might be tempted to go there - you know, just to see what they could do for me. It would be easy except for two things. First, I am completely loyal to my stylist. And second, I passed by the other day and looked in the window and found Frau Bitch cutting someone's hair.

Someone's walking around Magdeburg with Mamie Eisenhower bangs and by golly this time it's not me.

Mollie's scarf

That bad boy's done. Come see my work.

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You know I didn't use a flash so the color is somewhat off. The scarf isn't this pink - actually it's a deep maroonish red with deep brown/black flecks in it. My wall isn't that mustardy colored either. My sofa, however, actually is that beige. You can't hurt beige with bad lighting.

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Here's a close-up of the basketweave stitch pattern. Very fun to knit.

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My boyfriend couldn't be happier that I'm finally finished with Mollie's scarf. More time available to devote to him.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Duller than a cotton ball

I don't wish to complain about it being dull around here but I did take three short naps today. Three. If there is an allotment of daily naps to be had in the world then blame me if your cranky two-year-old wouldn't lay down to sleep this afternoon.

I'd gotten all set in my mind to walk down to the river this afternoon to see the ice floes. It's warmed up considerably compared to the last two days and this morning the air was clear and dry and the sky a sunny blue. By afternoon clouds had rolled in and by the time B's physiotherapist left at 3pm I was in no state to be strolling down the street anywhere. Not only had it become overcast and quite a bit colder, I was stricken by a stomach ailment that left me doubled over with cramps. It could be a bug but my money is on my recent drive to increase my fiber intake. In an effort to eat a bit better and to keep my blood sugar more steady I upped my intake a good 50% over the last four days and I believe my colon thinks it's a stick-up.

On to other day fillers:

~ Dear Siemens/Fujitsu, Fujitsu/Siemens, whatever-the-hell-order-your-name-is,

I can get over the fact that I've had to have two major hardware replacements within the warranty period and I will say I was happy with your repair service but it's important for you to know that your recovery software blows. Blows big ones. Blows so much that as I currently shop for a new computer because your product is making me so angry that I won't even remotely consider buying another one of your products.

So there.

~ My friend, Tiffany, just asked me to knit a blanket for her two year old boy. I couldn't be more touched about that.

~ I confess. I watch Deutschland sucht den Superstar (the German version of American/Pop Idol). I've watched the other two seasons too. I start out saying I'll only watch the beginning shows with all the losers but then get all caught up in it and then have my favorites and the ones I think are losers. I will, however, deny that I've actually phoned in for my favorite.

~ Strawberry Twizzlers. I miss you.

Time for me to knit.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Why yes, I'll have a second helping!

Because I seem to be a glutton for punishment!

I must be an idiot but I do love a challenge. For reasons beyond my ken I have decided to take up the challenge of the Knitting Olympics. I tend to work better under pressure and if I have the deadline of sixteen days to get it done then maybe I'll have the baby blanket for my friend, Zea, finished. God knows the deadline of nine months of Zea's pregnancy wasn't enough! I'm at the point where I've got to get this done or I'll be presenting her daughter the blanket at her high school graduation.

I have started this blanket twice but haven't liked how it was turning out due to the yarn and pattern both so I'm going to take that terrific yarn I bought yesterday and knit the wavy boxes baby blanket. I can do that in sixteen days, right? Nevermind that I've been taking weeks to finish the basketweave stitch scarf for Mollie. This blanket should surely go faster, right?

If you seen great gaps in my posting, you'll know what I'm up to. Wish me luck!

I waited so patiently

Yay. Soccer's winter break is ending. And Bayern-München is about to beat Mainz in the DFB Cup quarter finals.

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My boyfriend is pretty happy about it too.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Right place, right time

Right thing - yarn.

Right color - pale blue.

Right variety - merino sport weight.

Right price - 1€ per skein.

So I bought twelve skeins. I likely would have bought them out completely but I couldn't hold any more. I'm considering going back tomorrow for the rest.

Now I need to find the right project.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Baby's First Shuffle Edition

First Friday shuffle for Bixente the iPod. He's only about half full and B did quite a bit of the filling so God only knows what we'll get.

You know the routine. Turn on your music maker. Set to shuffle. Say the first ten it coughs up.
  1. My Secret Flame - The Mavericks
  2. Mambo Italiano - Bette Midler
  3. I'm Happy Just to Dance With You - The Beatles
  4. All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down (featuring Flaco Jimenez) - The Mavericks
  5. I Want to Know - The Mavericks
  6. Stardust - Glenn Miller Orchestra
  7. Über sieben Brücken - Karat
  8. Mull of Kintyre - Paul McCartney
  9. Crowning of the King - Blackmore's Night
  10. Give Me Novacaine - Green Day
A trio of the Mavericks. Surely this means that Raul Malo wants me something fierce.

Other events of the day:

My birthday is over and this means only one thing: Winter is now nothing but a waste of my time so let cut over to the good stuff and skip on to May. Instead we here in the eastern part of Germany are waiting for the Arschkalt weather from Russia. -15°C and perhaps even colder. I have no idea what that is in farenheit but it's pretty damn cold whatever it is. Pretty damn cold and I'm a big pansy about such things. I'm going into survival mode and have it planned to go to the grocery store tomorrow to fill my empty cupboard and refrigerator shelves with staples like milk and bread and yogurt and chili con queso dip. Stands to reason that if you're going to shiver in the cold you should be able to fortify yourself with nachos. After that I'm going to be all about hunkering down in my warm apartment, vigerous tea drinking, movie watching and knitting.

I'm damn near one of those crazy survivalist types, aren't I?

Have a good weekend, all.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Resilient eggplant

Your Birthdate: January 19

You are resilient, and no doubt your resilience has already been tested.
You've had some difficult experiences in your life, but you are wise from them.
Having had to grow up quickly, you tend to discount the advice of others.
You tend to be a loner, having learned that the only person you can depend on is yourself.

Your strength: Well developed stability and confidence

Your weakness: Suspicion of others

Your power color: Eggplant

Your power symbol: Spade

Your power month: October

It's been a nice birthday. Lots of phone calls, lots of flowers, lots of cake. No eggplant.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tagged, Part II

One more meme and I'm all caught up! Check me out! Ticking stuff off my "to do" list and all!

This tagging comes from Spinning Sue. She's Australian! And lives in the U.K.! Out in the country! And she posts lots of pictures of where she lives! And she knits! She's a very good knitter too and encourages me to be a better knitter. And she spins her own wool! Dyes and spins her own wool! How's that for cool? And her dog, Max, is cute! Go check her out and drool over her knitted goodies and her yummy wool.

Seven Times Seven Meme:

Seven things to do before I die:
~ Knit a cardigan and have it be right.
~ Learn to knit socks.
~ Visit B's cousins in Adelaide, Australia.
~ Read an entire novel in German with no assistance.
~ Visit Scotland and hang out with some groovy Scottish people.
~ See Bayern-München play live.
~ Have perfume made just for me.

Seven things I cannot do:
~ Knit Continental style - well I can some but it takes my MIL standing over me to do it right.
~ Resist red velvet cake.
~ Drink coffee.
~ Tolerate skinheads.
~ Like George W. Bu$h.
~ Listen to techno music.
~ Watch Paris Hilton on TV for more than ten seconds.

Seven things that attract me to blogging:
~ The ability to keep track of my life without writing a diary.
~ The chance to get to know people from around the world.
~ The humor I find on the blogs of others.
~ The chance to improve my own writing.
~ The chance it gives my friends to easily keep up with my life.
~ The ability to read and comment on current events.
~ The great idea and inspiration I get from others.

Seven things I say most often:
~ Whatcha need sweetheart?
~ Love you.
~ Scheisse.
~ Shit. (I love that word in any language.)
~ Ohdearlord!
~ Ach so!
~ Bitte?

Seven books that I love:
~ To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
~ The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
~ The Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling
~ She's Come Undone - Wally Lamb
~ Stones from the River - Ursula Hegi
~ Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal - Chistopher Moore
~ A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving

Seven movies I watch over and over again:

~ To Kill a Mockingbird
~ The Best Years of Our Lives
~ Das Wunder von Bern
~ Der Himmel über Berlin (English title: Wings of Desire)
~ The Searchers
~ Pulp Fiction
~ Love...Actually

Won't tag here either but go ahead and do it if you want. Live it up. Have a little mindless fun.

Tagged, Part I

Let me again thank everyone for their heartfelt support yesterday. I know my friend will be touched to know so many have sent good wishes.

And so to get back into the normal swing of things, let me catch up on a couple tags I've received. Could be repeats but what the hell? A good meme is like a Snickers bar for lunch. Not the best thing to have but dammit, it's tasty.

The AngryBlackBitch has given me this tag. Want some political commentary mixed with some great humor from a woman who doesn't just talk the talk but walks the walk? Go read her blog.

List and Explain Five Weird Habits:

1. I don't like for my hands to be wet. If I'm cleaning I try to do everything to avoid putting my hands under water as much as I can and dry my hands a zillion times while cleaning. And of course if I wash my hands, which I do a lot because I take care of a quadriplegic and he doesn't need my hands to be dirty, I have to dry them completely. Damp hands irritate me no end.

2. After I eat a cup of peach yogurt I have to smell the empty cup. I just love how it smells. It freaks out B though and he accuses me of looking like the Frank Booth character in Blue Velvet.

3. How I eat M&Ms: Must be peanut M&Ms. Take M&M and crack longways in half. Eat one half. Use bottom teeth to dig out peanut. Eat peanut. Eat other chocolate half.

Alternative method: Leave M&M in mouth until sugar coating is nearly melted off. Chew up rest of warm, mushy M&M.

4. I need to be able to know what time it is at all time. Not liking to wear wristwatches while at home, I have clocks in every room. I have four clocks in my livingroom alone.

5. Not a weird habit but a pet peeve: I go crazy if I see "y'all" spelled as "ya'll". Y'all is a contraction of "you" and "all", not "ya" and "all". The apostrophe takes the place of the "ou" in "you", thus making "y'all".

Won't do any tagging myself because I'm not sure who's done this and who hasn't. Feel free to swipe for yourself should you need a little blog fodder.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


Nothing today folks. Not that I had a whole lot to say today anyway but I've received very bad news regarding a friend back in the States. Nothing I'm at liberty to discuss but I am absolutely heartbroken for this person and every other thought I have today seems hollow and trite.

If it's within your realm of belief and are inclined to could you say a quick prayer or send a few comforting thoughts for a kind person who could use plenty of support right now? I imagine God will know who you mean. Thanks.

Monday, January 16, 2006

New addition to the family

As I have a wonderfully generous and indulgent husband I was able to open my birthday gift from him when it arrived in the post today instead of having to wait until Thursday.

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I take great pleasure in introducing to you my new iPod Nano. He is tiny. He is cute. He's filled with music and I adore him. His name is Bixente. Bixente the iPod. Points to those who can figure out from where I've taken his name.

I'm not fond of the ear buds since they don't fit terribly well in my tiny ears but if that's the worst experience I have with Bixente I will be more than pleased. I've spent the afternoon petting and polishing him and I just know I'll be crushed when he gets his first scratch. I've turned into a doting iPod mother.

Friday, January 13, 2006


I've eaten so many homemade chocolate chip cookies today that I'm actually woozy and the room's a little spinny.

I should have some steamed spinach and an apple and a little brown rice to sober up.

Friday Shuffle - Poppy's Banging Her Head Edition

A cheater's shuffle. No real shuffling except to look through my extensive songlist, randomly run my cursor over the titles while my eyes are closed and stop and add the songs that I believe would drive Poppy to bang her head. On a wall. Not that I want her to actually bang her head on a wall - I mostly want to make her cringe and then laugh and shake her head at my silliness.

What? You've never read Poppy's blog? Then get your hips over there! She's rock-a-licious!
  1. Rocks - Primal Scream
  2. White, Discussion - Live
  3. The Warrior - Patty Smyth
  4. We Belong - Pat Benatar
  5. Baby Got Back - Sir Mix-A-Lot
  6. Ariel - Rainbow
  7. High Enough - Damn Yankees
  8. All Over You - Live
  9. Can't Stop Lovin' You - Van Halen
  10. Mrs. Rita - Gin Blossoms
Two songs from Live. I can hear the screech from here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

See for yourself

I'd forgotten that I had these photos on my computer - the ones of my great-grandparents. Now you can see what I was talking about.

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My grandfather's family. I think of one of my brothers whenever I see my great-grandfather.

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Pappy. I never have figured out what he was doing with that tie.

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Litha Ann. Yikes. The waist of her dress looks tight.

I'm asking nicely

Please. Someone get My Humps out of my head. Someone take two grapefruit spoons and dig it out of my brain once and for all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Gimme some sugar

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Paper Napkin reminds us all that it's National De-Lurking Week so c'mon y'all - if you've been reading here and never before left a comment, here's your chance. And if you do comment, do it some more. It feels good.


On the shoe cabinet in my hallway I have photos of my maternal great-grandparents.

One is a photo of my grandfather's family - his parents along with him and his brother and two sisters. My great-grandparents are young in the photo...probably not more than thirty. My grandfather is about three years old in the photo so the picture dates from about 1910. His brother and older sister, Neil and Ruth, stand between their seated parents and my grandfather sits on his dad's lap while the baby, Gladys, sits on her mother's lap. I suspect that the event of having their photo taken was something important as they seem to be wearing the fanciest clothes they owned. Nothing lavish but the females are wearing ruffles and frills while the males sport more somber attire. I assume it's the fanciest clothes an Arkansas cotton farmer could provide. No smiles in the picture but back then I believe people didn't often smile in photographs. I've heard a lot about my grandfather's family. When my mother was growing up they lived across the road from her family and she was very close with her grandparents. I knew my grandfather's sisters and while his brother died before I was born I heard about what a black sheep he was. I never knew my mother's grandparents either. I always think of my great-grandparents in the way my mother described to me - sturdy, sensible people who believed in hard work and family loyalty.

One photo is of my grandmother's father - Pappy. When I was a kid he lived with my mother's parents and he died when he was ninety-two years old...I believe I was nine or ten years old at the time. I remember him as being a stooped old man who walked with a cane. He would come out mid-morning to the side yard of my grandparent's house and sit in a metal lawn chair under the pecan trees. I was always somewhat intimidated by him. He'd hug me and slap me on the back hard. It hurt and when I'd complain about it to my siblings or my mother I'd be told he didn't know any better. He was half-deaf and could barely hear it thunder and you'd have to get right up to him to talk to him. Of course this meant that his shouted replies would be directed about four inches from your face and it freaked me out a little to have this old man with his big wrinkled face up in my grill. I always had the feeling that he didn't know my name or any of the names of his great-grandchildren (and there was a passle of us) but he liked us all the same and when we'd visit he'd tell us to run around the back of the house to his room because he'd left some peppermints in a bag on his bed for us. I didn't give a flip about the peppermints but I loved that he had them for us.

Had I not been told I would have never known the man in the photograph is the same person. In the photo he's probably in his mid-twenties. It's hard to tell what year the photo was taken - the clothes not being a giveaway. He's wearing a plain dark suit with a white shirt. He does have on a string tie but it's not done properly, the ends merely looped over each other as if he had thought about making a bow and then gave up. The suit's wrinkly and the shirt seems a bit on the shabby side as well. I never knew what Pappy did for a living but I always understood he never did have much money. I like his face though with its strong, full mouth and straight nose. He's got a shock of thick, straight hair combed across his forehead and it wouldn't surprise me to know it's where I get my own thick hair. And I like the look on his face. He looks like a man that does what he pleases. So different than the face I remember being stuck up in mine.

The third photograph is the most interesting to me. It's a photo of my grandmother's mother, Litha Ann. She's likely in her early or mid twenties in the photo but I'm bad at guessing ages and she could be even younger. I never knew much about my grandmother's mother. She passed on when my grandmother was only six-years-old. I also understand that her family was somewhat well off and didn't approve of her marrying Pappy. She had some fine things that belonged to her - some furniture and clothes and china and that sort of thing and the story I heard was that after she died things just went all to hell. Pappy didn't have the sense or raising to know what he had and eventually broke and tore up everything of value that she had.

You can see from the photograph that she must have come from some money. Her dress is of a finer cut and style than say the dress my other great-grandmother is wearing in her own photograph. Litha Ann sits turned sideways in a straight chair with her arm up on the back of the chair and she's clutching a very full looking lacy handkerchief. Her other hand rests in her lap and on it you can see a ring on her left forefinger. Her long, dark, wavy hair cascades over her shoulders with the sides pulled back and held at the crown by a ribbon. Litha Ann isn't what I would call pretty by today's standards but I believe back in her day she would have been considered to be a handsome woman. Her expresion haunts me though. She's not smiling in her photo either but the expression on her face seems almost pensive. I've always had the feeling that her mind was a million miles away from sitting and having her photograph taken.

Litha Ann has always fascinated me. She wasn't talked about much when I was growing up and I always had the feeling she was a subject my grandmother didn't want to discuss. Still I look at her photo and wonder who this woman was. Why would she have married a somewhat shiftless man who seemed to be beneath her raising? What was it about each other that drew them together? Was it true love or was it a necessity of the times? I see bits of my face in her face - the same tight mouth and my nose seems to resemble hers - and I wonder if I carry anything else from her in me. I rather like that I haven't been told too much about her. It's left me to think about her and imagine what she was like and it's helped me to create a bond to her, even though she's been dead now for nearly one hundred years.

I hope we all recognize each other in Heaven.

Monday, January 09, 2006

My passport needs a-stampin'

I want to go to London. Maybe I want to go to other places in England too but I've been to London and liked it there a lot so if I went to just one place in England I'd go there. Just want to see some English stuff and hang around some English people and watch some English TV and hear English spoken all around me. Go to an English supermarket and look at the stuff and see what they've got that I can also get in Germany and what stuff I can also get in the US and what stuff it just for England. Find PG Tips for sale everywhere. Stuff myself on chocolate HobNobs (nobbly and oaty!) until my colon cries out for me to stop. Go to book shops and yarn stores and still become ridiculously amused when I hear "Mind the gap". Go to a pub. I never made it to a pub when I was last there.

I'd like to go to Scotland too and hang out with some Scottish people and groove on their Scottishness but everything's uphill and I'm too lazy for that.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Bitte und danke

Any of you knitting types out there, can you direct me to an easy, free sock pattern online? I want to learn to knit socks (especially since I got some gorgeous new sock yarn at Christmas) and I can't decide on what's going to be easy to learn to knit and what's going to be over my head right now. I'll add that I've never knitted with dpns before but I'll learn and practice before I start sock knitting.


Learn the trick

Expat Traveler asked to know the secret behind the changing photo trick. I originally lifted the idea from Jen and she lifted it from someone else and it trickled down to this blog. Nona gives a great explaination and if I can learn it, anyone can.

Now if I could only learn how to change the background and stuff on my template.

More tissues now available for the world's use

~ After a day of feverish sleep, decongestant and antibiotics, my cold is much better. I don't often catch colds so when one comes along I make an enormous deal out of it. And I live in fear that B will catch it which will make it a truly enormous deal. Quadriplegics and respiratory infections do not go together.

~ I had to run to the grocery store today and needed to take a streetcar to get there. I was standing at the stop, randomly looking around and a streetcar that I couldn't use came to the stop. I continued to stand, my gaze fixed towards my left in the distance and I turned my head back towards the streetcar as I heard it take off and just in time was able to see two teenage boys giving me the finger as they rode off. No other people were standing by me so I took it that they meant their greeting for me.

Little shits. Had I know they were going to do that I'd have gotten on that streetcar and given them an actual reason for giving me the finger.

~ Somehow while I was caught up in holiday preparation frenzy (at least this is the excuse I've devised for myself) the unpacking of the last few boxes of crap I have stopped. I have about ten left and I haven't made a move towards getting them taken care of. Typical behavior for me - get to the finish line and then dick around and merely shuffle to the end.

~ Related to the above, Thursday night - actually it was the wee hours of Friday morning - I awoke gasping for breath because my nose was completely closed and I had the most awful feeling of smothering. I was sleepy and addled from cold medications and I suddenly became panicky about B's electric wheelchair. It should normally be in the hallway but it got put into the bedroom during the move and I haven't cleared space to get it unpinned from the corner it's currently jammed in. I became nearly frantic that I wouldn't be able to get the wheelchair out of the room and it would cause all sorts of problems on the 16th when the new bed gets delivered. I got out of bed and paced around fretting over how I would get the wheelchair out and was within a spat of moving things around and driving out the wheelchair in my whacked out state.

Of course in the light of day one can plainly see that chucking a couple empty cartons and moving the computer table and chair into the hallway while I drive the wheelchair out will take care of things very well.

~ I have a suspicion as to why I was flipped off today. I'm going to guess they got wind of this.

Not my fault they still posess the lower anatomy of a Ken doll.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Anatomy of a cold

Running, wiping, running, wiping, running, running, runningrunningrunning...

Eyes burn, sandy, itchy, rub, rub, don't rub they'll itch more, rub once for luck, rub again because it can't be resisted...

Sneeze, wipe, blow, blow, blow, I'll blow your house down, skin raw, each wipe makes eyes water again...

Head aches, ears ache, jaws ache, gums swollen, sinues are going to burst, first the right side then then left now both at once, where's the nose drops?

Squirt, sniff, squirt, damn it's running down my throat, burning, choking...

Can breathe again but it doesn't last long, where's the tissues?, sneeze is coming, sneeze is coming, sneeze is coming, WHERE ARE THE TISSUES?

Catch it in time, soaking paper, wash hands, wipe again, throat burns...

Soothe with honey, soothe with tea, hot lemonade, water, Coke burns, brandy in my tea, get sleepy...

Try to sleep, can't get comfortable, can't breathe, sit up, lay down, sit up halfway, nose runs, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniffsniffsniffsniff...

Everything hurts, everything's tender, nose raw, lips dry, find the lip blam and smear everywhere...

Mountain of tissues, bottles, cups, straws, lozenges, keep the dog away, drop that tissue it's dirty!...

Wimper, moan, find the quilt, head's heavy, eyes run, nose runs, wipe, wipe, wipe, lay down again...

Leave me alone.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Wednesday Kinder Egg Blogging

New to Kinder Eggs? They're milk chocolate eggs with a hard plastic capsule inside containing a toy to put together.

Roll your cursor over the photo to make it change.

A little assembly. A little decal application. Result? Blue mummy.

Not as good as my original Kinder egg mummy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Crumbs, stray hairs, and gritty bits

What you get if you ran a Swiffer Duster around my brain.

1. We desperately need some sunshine around here. It's not just overcast here - it's like living in nuclear winter. On the streetcar today it was like everyone was heading towards a funeral.

Come to think of it, a lot of people did get off at the stop in front of the cemetary...

2. I am not a great knitter. I'm not bad, but I know my limits and I strive to improve. Still I was lazy about learning how to fix errors with confidence (other than frogging my work) because all I had to do was carry my screwed up knitting six floors up to my MIL, my knitting superhero in sensible shoes, and have her straighten it out.

Now if I want knitting fixed I'd have to set out across the market square to get to her apartment and I'm not going to do that. It's nuclear winter out there! So when I dropped a stitch while unknitting a few stitches I squared my shoulders and became determined to fix it without creating a ladder of them. And I did it. Twice.

I can see me letting this go to my head.

3. This is the reason I would up and move to Beverly Hills. Assuming I could afford to live in Beverly Hills and spend $3.25 on a cupcake, that is.

4. I know I constantly crow about how much I love living downtown but dammit all, I do. It's that feeling of "Where everybody knows your name" that I'm digging. Instead of "more people, less businesses" like in my old neighborhood, here it's "less people, more businesses" so if you live in the neighborhood and frequent a place you'll stand out. The ladies at the bakery know me and start to bag my regular daily order as soon as I open the door. The dude at the shoe repair place (I suppose his title would technically be "shoe repair dude") steps out to say hello and pet my dog when I walk by. The folks at the Asia Bistro know me by name (and falling on my face in front of their restaurant may have had a hand in that) and the people at the restaurant across the street from my apartment deliver food to me even though they don't normally make deliveries - only because I've been able to charm them when I've been in there with my MIL. When I moved to Germany I came from a city of less than 14,000 people to a city of 230,000 people and I'm still able to recapture that small town feeling because people here have bothered to remember me. Of course the fact that I speak German with an American Southern accent may have had a hand in getting me known.

Monday, January 02, 2006

During a conversation with my mother:

Her: I was listening to the radio yesterday and there was some man on there talking know...that Europe thing?

Me: The European Union?

Her: That's it. That they wanted to get together to try to annihilate Israel.

Me: What?

H: Something like that. That they wanted to annihilate Israel.

M: That doesn't make sense. Why would the European Union want to do that?

H: I don't know. It's just what he said. That they wanted to get together with Iran. I just wanted to know if you've heard that there.

M: No, Mama. That's not right.

H: Are you sure?

M: Mama, the European Union has no interest in annihilating Israel. I can't speak for Iran. They're not in the European Union.

H: Do they want to be?

Me: Well, they're going to have to get over the hurdle of their human rights record. And, you know, have the country actually be in Europe.

There's something wrong when you're not sure if the goofy-ass conversation you've had with your mother is due to the fact that she has Alzheimer's disease or because she's been listening to conservative talk radio again and both reasons seem equally plausible.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

An open letter... all 13-15 year old boys in Germany.

Please knock off the firecrackers. Please. Just stop. New Year's Eve is over and the rest of us are thoroughly sick of hearing that constant noise. Some of us are also trying to get over the consumption of too much New Year's Eve wine and nachos and this isn't helping.

Stop roaming the streets in your little groups tossing firecrackers as you go. Stop setting them off in tiled breezeways so we can get the treat of the added echo. And especially stop tossing them at little dogs and old couples as they try to get down to the streetcar stop.

Fireworks are fun but their time is now over. It's now just annoying. You don't seem to get the fact that it's tiresome and everyone else is sick of the bits of charred paper and the haze of smoke hanging everywhere.

No one is impressed. Trust me on this. No one hears the constant bang of your firecrackers and believes you posess anything more than the bald nubbin you have in your pants.

Repeat after me: "Firecrackers will not get me laid.".

Learn it. Know it. Live it.