Dixie Peach: May 2006

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Sweating palms

I have a moment to check in so I thought I'd let everyone know that my family arrived safe and sound.

I, on the other hand, nearly had the living shit scared out of me on the trip to the airport. I got an airport shuttle service to drive me to Hannover to pick up my sister and her family and drive us back to Magdeburg. To say this guy was a scary-ass driver doesn't even remotely touch the situation. I am not a fearful passenger. I don't normally cringe at fast driving. I do, however, highly object at hurtling towards stopped traffic at 150kph. There would be a sea of brake lights ahead and this old bastard driving would be all "Oh! I guess I should stop this car! SCREEEEEECH!".

I tried not to squeal out loud too much but there were three or four times I literally feared for my life. All I could think was "I'm going to die in this car with this old fat man with hair in his ears while listening to shitty music on the radio.". I was also having thoughts of beating him over the head, throwing him from the car and taking the wheel myself but landing in jail would really screw up my family's vacation. I also had thoughts of saying "I'm not getting back in the car with you. Dump me at the airport and I'll get back another way. Getting picked up by a psychotic ax murderer would be a better alternative than riding with you." but this man was such a dimwit I wasn't sure he was going to understand my meaning. This guy was so ignorant that he couldn't understand that my husband is German. I told him this about seven times. I told him that B was born and raised in Magdeburg and at one point he asked me if my husband speaks German.

Who let this fuckwit out of his cage?

Due to a lot of traffic jams on the Autobahn we were forty-five minutes late getting to the airport and I was just anxious to get my family loaded up and headed towards home.

Did I forget to mention that while we were told we'd be driven in a van we were instead in a Skoda sedan? Myself, my sister, my BIL, my nephew, fat-stupid-driver and a pile of luggage. We practically had to be greased up to shove ourselves into the car.

My sister is practically fearless. She doesn't even flinch when being driven by the craziest taxi driver in New York City or Boston but this guy scared her blind. Jerky steering, lurching from lane to lane, passing cars while never really fully getting into the other lane, sometimes driving between lanes, all while driving 180kph (that's 108mph...let me remind you that we were in a Skoda) - it all added up to scaring her sufficiently enough to claim that she'd see him in hell before she got in the car with that man again.

So while we're having a great visit together, I've got to find another way to get them back to Hannover to the airport. Deutsche Bahn is looking exceptionally good to me right now. At least when they're driving 180kph they're on the tracks alone.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Shuffle - V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N Edition

Nothing announces that it's time for a vacation better than an ancient Connie Francis song, eh?

I'd like to say that I'm in a full tilt frenzy getting ready for my sister and her family to arrive on Sunday afternoon but I'm not. There's not all that much left to get finished and I do like a little last minute pressure on me anyway. I'm just a more efficient worker when I'm under the gun.

The weather doesn't look like it'll be cooperating with us at least for the first week of their visit. It was perfect the last time they visited three years ago but we're not having that much luck this time around. I'm afraid that the weather will suck so much that they'll not want to come back to visit anytime soon.

Don't get worried if you don't see much of me for the next two weeks. I'm going to be too busy grooving on my family and taking a little break from everything.

So let's shuffle one more time before I take a pause...
  1. Fill My Little World - The Feeling
  2. Mother & Child Reunion - Paul Simon
  3. On The Other Hand - Randy Travis
  4. Heard It In A Love Song - Marshall Tucker Band
  5. La Camisa Negra - Juanes
  6. Your Cheatin' Heart - Hank Williams
  7. Hip Teens Don't Wear Blue Jeans - Frank Popp Ensemble
  8. Beautiful Day - U2
  9. I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor - Arctic Monkeys
  10. Snow (Hey Oh) - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Y'all dig on that shuffle for a couple weeks and after Sunday I'll check in when time allows.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


I know you've been waiting to see Lottie in little pink panties and here's your chance. Lottie will be modeling her entire wardrobe, many pieces generously given to her by my dear friends Lisa and Sari.

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The audience assembles. From left to right we have Bernadette the sock bunny given to me by Lisa, Wee the tiny sock monkey given to me by Sari and the as yet unnamed sock monkey given to me by my sister. We need to work on giving that poor sock monkey a name.

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We're beginning with intimate apparel. Lottie's modeling her sleeping suit that keeps her toasty warm on cold winter nights.

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Perfect for Lottie to wear while practicing her ballet steps.

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The famous teeny panties. Complete with...

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...lace trimmed hole for her tail.

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Lottie looks great in classics and this brown and red plaid dress fits her sense of style.

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Lottie may be a city girl but she's got country roots. These little outfit is perfect for more tomboyish pursuits.

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Summertime picnics are perfect opportunities to wear this watermelon slice print sunsuit. Feminine, yet sporty.

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Dinner in an upscale restaurant or even Sunday church services demand something a bit more formal and this dress fits the bill perfectly.

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The whole gang - Lottie, Bernadette, Wee and Poor Unnamed Sock Monkey are glad you paid a visit and hope to see you again in the near future!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Kitchen Window, 7:20 PM

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When I was wee little I thought sunshine coming through the clouds was God smiling.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Time management

I sometimes have trouble doing things at normally acceptable times. In other words, if a whim strikes me, I go with it and often disregard the time of day or wait until it's a more appropriate hour.


Sari sent me some new clothes for Lottie, my sock monkey. I'd told Sari that I would get photos of Lottie modeling her new togs and have as of yet neglected to to it.

Folks who know me well know that I go to bed at a ridiculous hour - usually sometime around 3am. The reasons why aren't important to this tale, just the idea that when it's the middle of the night, I'm just going off to bed. Last night I'd been online playing a game for longer than normal so it was even later that I'd started getting ready for bed.

I was putting a few things away for the evening when I spied the little box that still had Lottie's new clothes inside and you know 3:15am seemed, at that moment, to be a perfectly logical time to try on the new duds. I figured it would only take a moment anyway.

One of the items is a teensy pair of pink silky bloomers, complete with lace around the hole for her tail. As you can imagine, panties for a sock monkey are a bit of a close fit. Lottie, while being a fit little sock monkey who values the importance of regular exercise, still has rather...well...fluffy legs. Couple that with her ample tail and you can figure that it was a struggle to get these panties on her. I realize that it was something that could wait until at least it was daylight outside but once I got started, I didn't see any need to quit. She was getting those damn bloomers on or I was going to die trying.

There was a vague bit of muttering coming from me and finally B said "I'm tired, honey. It's so late. What are you doing in there?"

How was I to answer that question except with the truth?

"I'm putting panties on Lottie and they're sort of tight."


"Sorry you asked?"

"Yes. I may not sleep now knowing you were up in the middle of the night struggling to get panties on a doll."

"Sock monkey."

"Don't start."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Attempt to torment

Some of what I love about knitting is that one is ever honing skills and learning more about the craft. Take, for instance, my attempt to design a lace wrap.

After a few failed tries I figured out that one has to do the center section of a pattern repeat over and over and not to do the end section until...well...the end. Ohhh! So that's what those arrows in the stitch pattern book mean!

And then there's all that damned arithmetic.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

I Like Meme-ing

...'cause meme-ing can make you mine.

Sari may get that bit of parody.

Anyway, Zoe has tagged me with the I Meme. What can I tell you about Zoe other than the fact that she's wonderfully sweet and I'd give a lot to give her a big hug? I just adore her. And she and I are Liverpool fans. Drop by her blog and meet her.

I am...content with my life. I can't think of too many things I would change that would make my life happier.

I be able to travel more. I would like visit England again (and hopefully see friends there) and visit B's cousins in Australia and of course I'd love to visit my family and friends in America more often.

I wish...B weren't paralyzed even if it were for just one day. For just one hour. I'd love for him to have the freedom of movement again.

I hate...that my mother has Alzheimer's disease. I hate what it puts her through.

I hometown but I mostly miss the people there.

I fear...dying before B. No one would take care of him.

I hear...the Eurovision Song Contest show in the background. Most of it's pretty dreadful but I like the Norwegian chick and I think the German entry this year is pretty good. Note to the band from Finland: All the prosthetic makeup in the world won't make up for the fact that you have absolutely no talent. Oh, and Macedonia? Aren't you an ancient land? I mean hasn't Macedonia been around for umpteen thousand years? Are y'all so insecure in your national identity that you still insist on telling the world in your official name that you're a former republic of Yugoslavia? Do you see the US calling themselves Former British Colony United States of America? Just be Macedonia. You can do it.

I wonder...if my sister and I can sneak into B's uncle's secret book room while we're there visiting.

I regret...not taking better care of my body when I was younger. It's way harder to break bad habits now.

I am not...ever sorry for one minute that we moved away from our old apartment.

I dance...somewhat like Davy Jones during the musical parts of The Monkees...lots of from-the-hips-up movement and more limited foot stuff.

I sing...every time I'm in the car. Singing in the car never ever fails to make me happy.

I virtually everything that's even remotely touching. I used to hold it back a lot but I just let it go now.

I am not patient as I should be. I need to learn to take a moment before reacting.

I make with my hands...lots of knitting.

I write...nearly every day. Letters, email, blog entries, lists...I love words.

I husband when I talk too fast in a too excited manner.

I wash my windows before my sister arrives or she'll end up doing it for me because she can never sit still. On second thought...

I should...take more alone time for myself.

I start...every knitting project at least three times before I get going on it good.

I finish...nachos with much too much ease.

I tag...Brandi because else the universe will collapse. And I'll tag Miz and Katy and anyone else who'd like to play along.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Nothing Special Edition

Hey. Who pulled the plug on my warm, near-summerlike weather? It's cloudy and chilly outside. Chilly and, dare I say it?, blustery.

Ever looking to the positive, I'm seeing the weather setback as an opportunity to get down to brass tacks as far as getting things ready for my sister's visit and to take some time to relax before I have two weeks of hectic. That being the case, I don't have anything in particular planned for the weekend - just some cleaning and some organizing and lots of knitting and relaxing. Nothing special before the really special gets started.

Time for a shuffle.
  1. Rosealia - Better Than Ezra
  2. Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners
  3. Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon - Urge Overkill
  4. Angel of Harlem - U2
  5. Paint It Black - The Rolling Stones
  6. Hello Operator - The White Stripes
  7. Stolen Car - Bruce Springsteen
  8. Van Lear Rose - Loretta Lynn
  9. Avalon - Blackmore's Night
  10. Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz
Y'all dig on lots and lots of special stuff this weekend.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Amazing Lace - Challenge #1

Mr. Fabulous, you are excused from today's reading. I know how reading about me knitting makes you twitch. I take enough out of you when I write about lipstick.

Unlike some who think knitalongs are for sheep amateurs, I like to join them on occasion. I just like the idea of knitting something along with others around the world and hearing about their trials and triumps and I get ideas and tips from the other participants.

My latest torture passion is lace knitting. I'm not very experienced with it and I'm not terribly good at it, but it's interesting and it helps me not feel like such a failure for not knowing how to knit socks. Therefore I've joined the Summer 2006 lace knitalong called The Amazing Lace.

The first challenge is to introduce everyone to my team. The team is made up of me, the pattern, the yarn, the needles and, of course, the lace I'm knitting. I've chosen to knit two projects at the same time and I shall now introduce you to each project.

My regular readers know I've been knitting Cozy for a few weeks now. We've had a few false starts but I'm about half finished with her now. I'm using 5mm Inox aluminum circular needles paired with Schachenmayr Nomotta Twostep yarn, 53% microfiber acrylic/47% cotton. It's slightly heavy yarn but it seems to help the wrap have a stiffer form and the microfiber gives the yarn a bit of give that's handy to have on those decreases.

Here she is as of today. Roll your cursor over the photo to see a closeup of the pattern.

Cozy, however, is a taskmaster. She's very demanding of my attention. While I try to be very careful and count my stitches after every WS row my concentration will occasionally waver and I'll find myself with too many or too few stitches on my needle and me clueless about unknitting lace. Cozy then needs to make a trip to my MIL, expert knitter and super hero in sensible shoes, for her to set things right once more.

Me: Stop screwing up.

Cozy: It's not me. It's you. You don't pay enough attention to me. If I were gauzy and light maybe I'd not give you such a hard time.

Me: You're not that sort of wrap. You're the sort of wrap that one likes to have on cool autumn days. You're just not the gauzy type.

Cozy: But I should be. I should be and then I wouldn't mess you up so often.

Me: You're such a diva.

My second project is another wrap done in the exact same yarn as Cozy (Cozy is in a creamy off white, the second wrap is an oatmeal color) but with using 4.5mm bamboo needles. I don't know if you could call this wrap an original design or not as I'm not up on what constitutes an original design. I picked the stitch pattern from an old stitch pattern book my MIL gave me and then based on the gauge of the yarn I figured out how many pattern repeats to make along with the border. I don't know if that makes it a self designed pattern - all I know is that it doesn't have a name so I call it the Bonnie wrap. I have no idea how it'll turn out or if this pattern is even suitable for this yarn (I used the same yarn because I like the feel of it, plus I had it on hand) but it doesn't hurt to try. Plus I could use all the practice and experience I can get.

I started Bonnie yesterday while Cozy was being repaired by my MIL. Here she is as of this afternoon. Roll your cursor over the photo to see a closeup of the stich pattern.

Bonnie feels a bit low so far and a bit inferior to Cozy. While Cozy was designed by an experienced knitter and was published in a popular online knitting website, Bonnie was designed by me, a slightly better than beginner knitter armed with an ancient stitch pattern book. And she was named after my dog. I believe she's torn about how she feels about that.

Bonnie: You don't love me as much as Cozy.

Me: Don't be silly. I just don't know you as well yet. At least so far you seem a bit more down-to-earth.

Bonnie: I'm plain. And I'm the color of oatmeal. And I'm named after the dog.

Me: If it's any comfort, I like oatmeal and I love the dog. Just don't screw up as much as Cozy.

So there's my team. One's a diva, one's an new design that may or may not work but they're both fun to work with even if they do demand my unwavering attention. And when complete they'll be sturdy, warm wraps perfect for slinging over a long sleeved t-shirt and jeans and keeping me warm on an early fall afternoon.

Mr. Fab, you can come back into the room now.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


It's a slow week around here so let's fall back on a blogging crutch favorite - the bulleted list!
  • My sister and her family will be here in ten days. I plan on procrastinating for nine of them and using the tenth to panic and do all the last minute cleaning. I mean I really can't enjoy a visit from my family unless I've been awake in the wee hours of the morning cleaning my oven.
  • Remember my balcony window that broke on Good Friday? It's still broken. Phone calls have been made back and forth and I still don't have any date as to when someone will come and replace the window. I imagine they're going to wait until the tenth day as well because my panic threshold will not be high enough on that day to suit them.
  • I've figured out that the tree that's outside of my kitchen window isn't an oak after all. It's a linden tree. It all fell into place when I walked outside one day and smelled it blooming. I hope heaven smells like linden trees in bloom.
  • B's uncle is having his birthday while my sister is in town. On that day I need to drive my MIL to his house for the celebration. While this would ordinarly annoy me a little I'm rather looking forward to it so my sister can come with us. I can't wait for her to say "Holy crap! We've hit the tacky decor jackpot!".
  • She said pretty much the same thing the first time we visited Graceland back in 1985.
  • Eating fish and then an hour later eating chocolate Riesen will make you throw up. Just trust me on that one.
  • I have 2 pair of 3mm circular needles. I have sock yarn. Belinda has given me a great link for learning how to knit socks on 2 circs. I can do this, right? I'm not so dopey than I can't learn to knit socks on 2 circs, right?
That's all for today. Maybe I'll have pictures tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Cocktails and Complaints

A nice lady I know who lives in Bahrain was saying how beastly hot it is there and asking for suggestions on keeping cool.

It reminded me of a conversation that B and I had a few years ago.

One evening while watching the news we saw that a heatwave was coming with temperatures expected to be in the 35°C range. Now I may be from Mississippi and it's hotter than the mouth of hell there in the summertime but by golly we have air conditioning there. In Mississippi I'm out in the swealtering heat long enough to go from my air conditioned car to the air conditioned house/store/church/restaurant/whatever. I just don't take to excessive heat very well.

I took the news of the expected heatwave badly and said to B "Look, if it's going to be like that there's only one thing for me to do. I'm just going to have a cool drink and veg!".

"What? You're going to do what?"

"Veg. Vegetate. Be like a vegetable. Be like a vegetable and do nothing."

"Oh! Oh thank God. I thought you said something else."

"What did you think I said?"

"Nothing. Nevermind. Thought you said something else."



"What did you think I said? You can tell me."

"I thought you said 'I'm just going to have a cool drink and bitch!' and all I could think was 'And I'm going to be trapped in here with her! I can't escape the bitching!'"

Monday, May 15, 2006

When advice isn't even considered

Saturday's visit from B's aunt and uncle was a success. By success I mean that I didn't ask that someone leave my home or consider injuring anyone. Not long consider, anyway.

It wasn't until dinner was finished (And by the way, by the time I could get B's food cut up and set out for him to eat and could start to get my own food served B's aunt, Gabi, was digging for second helpings. I understand she's the guest but don't even basic manners dictate that one waits for everyone to be served before going for seconds?) that I became very annoyed.

The conversation went something like this:

Gabi: Are you friends with the people who live above you?

Me: The ones that own the boutique on the corner? I know them a little. They're at work a lot. Their little girls are nice.

Gabi: You should be friends with them. If you're friends with them then you can get them to help you put B in his wheelchair.

Me: I can't do that. I can't ask people to help me with B - not people I don't know.

Gabi: So get to know them!

Me: Gabi, it doesn't work like that. I don't make friends with people so they'll do me favors. And I am extremely uncomfortable asking people to help me with B.

Gabi: You ask your MIL to do it.

Me: That's a completely different thing! First, she's his mother. Second, she learned how to handle him.

Gabi: Well the neighbors can learn too.

B and MIL: No Gabi, it's different.

Gabi: I don't see why it's different.

Me: Because if someone wants to help me they can offer. If I ask first they get put on the spot. Not everyone is comfortable dealing with handicapped people. Handicapped people sometimes freak out other people. They're just uncomfortable around them. People don't like to be put on the spot about stuff like that because if they feel uncomfortable and say no then they feel guilty for saying no to a crippled guy. That's exactly what they'll think. "I said no to a crippled person! I'm going to hell now!". I can't do that to people.

Gabi: But you expect your MIL to do it.

MIL: I want to do it!

Me: She doesn't have to. The day she doesn't want to do it anymore, she can say no. I know it's physically difficult for her and when she doesn't want to do it anymore, she'll tell us.

Gabi: I don't know why you don't ask the people living above you.

Me: Gabi, they're at their store all day!

Gabi: Exactly! You know where they are all day! You can just pop into the store and ask one of them to help you put B in his wheelchair!

Me: I'm supposed to say "Hey, leave your store empty for a while and help me with my husband!"? Are you serious?

Gabi: Yes!

Me, B, MIL: NO!!

Thank goodness they left soon afterwards else I'd have gone berserk. I can't believe a woman who has known B since he was a teenager - well before his accident - and who since his accident has never once lifted a finger in any way, shape or form to help care for him is telling him, me and his mom how to handle it.

The rest of the weekend was spent knitting and watching movies. It helped me get over my mad.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Let's Get This Over With Edition

I'm dreading tomorrow.

B wasn't interested in having a birthday party this year but we still have to do some sort of birthday celebration thing with his aunt and uncle. We'd be considered by them to be some sort of anti-social freaks if we didn't and his aunt especially would pout.

I don't want to say I hate these people because that would be untrue. What would be true is to say that I dislike them immensely and being around them causes me to eye sharp objects with warm, cozy feelings.

B's uncle - his mom's brother - is just boring. Bad comb over, no personality, terrible table manners, socially retarded...there's just not a lot there to warm up to. However compared to his wife, he's a dream.

Before I moved to Germany, B would complain to me about her. When I first met her I thought "Oh, she's not so bad.". My impression of her soon changed to "Oh wait...yeah...I know what he means now.". I've had family and friends meet her and have the same initial impression that soon changed to "Gotcha. I understand now.".

B's aunt is boring as well but while his uncle is sort of a nebbish, she's very in-your-face. Loud, controlling, every party, every gathering, every get together has to revolve around her. She knows more than everyone else, she's an expert on every topic and she's not beyond talking to you as though you're one of the eleven-year-olds she used to teach.

I often fight the urge to tell her to belly up to big, frosty mug of Shut-The-Hell-Up.

So tomorrow at mid-afternoon B's aunt and uncle will arrive and the incessant blathering will start. I'll spend my time telling their dog to keep her nasty ass off my sofa and listening to B's uncle blow his nose while everyone is still eating their supper. B's aunt will start talking the moment she arrives and will only stop long enough to shovel food into her mouth or to go into the kitchen to sneak a smoke. And when it's all over I'll say to B "What in the hell was she rambling about?" and he'll reply "I dunno. I wasn't even listening.".

I'm looking forward to this with about the same desire I have for appointments with the gynecologist. The events are quite similar: you're uncomfortable, you have to answer the same questions repeatedly, it's boring and you feel as though your private things are being examined with intense scrutiny but if all goes well you get to go for months and months before having to endure it again. You just get it over with and put it behind you.

So let's get going on the shuffle:
  1. Sea of Love - The Honeydrippers
  2. Bottle of Smoke - The Pogues
  3. Devil's Dance Floor - Flogging Molly
  4. Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon
  5. In Dreams - Roy Orbison
  6. James Dean - The Eagles
  7. The Boy Who Never Cried - Steve Earle
  8. From A Distance - Nanci Griffith
  9. Coat of Many Colors - Dolly Parton
  10. Would You Believe - The Mavericks
Hope your weekend is filled with stuff you want to last and last and last.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

And this time I have photos!

Another perfect day, another opportunity to get B outside. My MIL and I seem to be getting back into the groove of getting B into his wheelchair because it was done today with little stress.

So we walked down our street:

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took a seat at our favorite cafe on the market square:

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and indulged in some ice cream and later some beer.

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Happy man full of ice cream and beer in the sun.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Newfound Joy

Most Americans, unless they have family or friends who live in or travel to Europe or Canada, have never heard of Kinder Surprise Eggs but when they are finally introduced to them they inevitably ask "Why don't they sell them in the US?". The short answer is because the FDA prohibits the sale of something inedible completely incased in something edible.

The chocolate egg, of course, isn't the draw of Kinder Eggs - it's the toys. Having the toy inside a chocolate egg is nice but the chocolate is merely the substance that sustains you while you figure out how to put together the toy. I imagine Americans would gladly give up half a chocolate egg if they could just get their hands on the toys.

And maybe it'll occur sooner than they expect.

This morning while shopping I saw a large display for these:

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Like a regular Kinder Egg it's an egg with a chocolaty treat and a toy to assemble. Unlike regular Kinder Eggs the egg part isn't chocolate wrapped in foil but instead is plastic. Pull apart the tabs to separate the halves and you'll find this:

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One half of the egg contains a Nutella and milk cream topped with two cookie-like balls. A plastic paddle-like spoon is provided to aid in scooping up the chocolaty cookie goo.

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Under the red cover of the other half you'll find your regular Kinder Egg toy:

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Check it out! It's Scrat from the Ice Age II collection!

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You know I'm going to buy a truckload of these tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Happy birthday, B!

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Y'all didn't know I married a 70s rock star, did you?

That's B when he was seventeen year old. When I first saw that picture I knew I had to marry him because I always was a sucker for that 70s rock star look and I sorta dug the idea of marrying someone who looked that cute back then.

As of today he's thirty years older than he was in that photo. His hair is short and he no longer wears shirts with embroidered flowers on the collar but he's still the same cute guy.

Happy birthday, B. You're the love of my life and I hope this new life year brings you happiness, love, good health, contentment and all good wishes that come true. I love you, rock star.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The help you get from friends

Yesterday's trip outdoors with B went much more smoothly than Wednesday's. A friend of ours and his wife came over and helped me get B into his wheelchair and I can report that no one sustained injury. The outing was wonderful - we just went to the same restaurant where we'd been Wednesday - and enjoyed the great weather and conversation. I did, however, forget to bring the camera so there are no pictures.

These friends of ours, Norbert and Helga, have experience with folks who have spinal cord injuries because their son, Holger, had one as well - in fact that's how the two families met.

B had just arrived at the rehab center a few weeks after his accident and was put in a room with some lumberjack guy from some village in the mountains. Lumberjack Guy had fallen out of a tree and injured his spine and evidently this was the first time he'd been off the mountain. He spoke some dialect of German that was impossible for B to understand and he talked and talked and talked. All. The. Time. It drove even the normally incredibly patient B mad for this man to be yammering without stopping so he begged for Lumberjack Guy to be put in another room and a new patient was put into B's room - Holger. And as luck would have it, Holger was about the same age as B and they even vaguely knew each other because Holger happened to be from Magdeburg as well. He was a sort of wild fellow - drank too much and lived too fast and that's how he injured his spine. He was drunk one night while out with friends and jumped off a bridge into a little creek to show he could and broke his back.

But putting Holger in B's room was just what he needed. Now he had someone to talk to who he could not only understand but who could relate to him and his life. B and Holger became good friends and since both sets of parents would come for visiting days they often made the long trip together. Holger and B both took the attitude that someone always has it worse than they have and their ability to encourage each other helped their time of adjustment and their rehabilitation.

Holger also once saved B's life.

In an effort to keep down pressure sores the staff at the rehab center put B in a sort of sling that kept him turned on his stomach and suspended slightly above the bed. One day while B was laying face down in that sling the upper part came loose and B's top half came down on the bed, his face pressed into the pillow. Holger saw that B would be unable to breathe and at that time B had little ability to turn his head so of course he couldn't help himself. Spinal cord injured people with the degree of injury that both B and Holger had don't have the ability to talk loud, let alone yell but somehow Holger was able to yell for a nurse to come to the room and they got B off the pillow and breathing again. Had Holger not been there or if he hadn't been paying attention, B most certainly would have died.

After B and Holger were both released from the hospital the families continued to visit each other. Holger wasn't one to stay indoors if he could help it and even though it was tough on his body, he was up and out in his wheelchair. He often had pressure sores and only when one got really bad would he stay put. By all accounts Norbert and Helga took wonderful care of him but Holger just lived a life that kept him on the edge. Even a spinal cord injury couldn't break him of his wild style.

Eventually Holger got a pressure sore that was devestating to him. It became very infected and after a while the infection got into his kidneys. Everything was done to save him but on August 24, 1989, Holger died. August 24 is a bittersweet day for that family. On the very same day that Holger passed, his brother's first son was born and ten years later on August 24 his brother's second son was born. Norbert and Helga mourn the loss of their older son on that date and at the same time celebrate the birthdays of their grandsons.

I never got to meet Holger but everyone tells me that he was someone I would have loved. Funny and wild and at the same time very kind and friendly. I wish I could have known him. I wish I could have shared a beer with him and laughed at the jokes he'd tell. And I wish I could have thanked him for saving B's life. I owe that man a lot.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday Shuffle - Relaxation Edition

Do you know of a better way to start a relaxing weekend than with a good shuffle? I know I don't.
  • Turn on that music player.
  • Set to shuffle.
  • Tell the first ten it gives.
Easy? You bet.
  1. Racing In The Street - Bruce Springsteen
  2. Seven Year Ache - Rosanne Cash
  3. Angel - Dave Matthews Band
  4. Somebody Told Me - Killers
  5. Jack Ass Ginger - Poi Dog Pondering
  6. (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes - Elvis Costello
  7. Lift Me Up - Moby
  8. Feel Good Inc. - Gorillaz
  9. Fist City - Loretta Lynn
  10. Across The Universe - The Beatles
Now you do it too.

And to tidy things up before the week ends...

~ While driving home from the grocery store this afternoon I waited at a light to turn left and a lady, a nun actually, was standing to my left waiting to cross the street. Nina Simone singing Ain't Got No/I Got Life (Groovefinder remix) was on the radio a touch loud and as I waited I could see the nun's head nod in time with the music and she called out to me "Sounds good!".

Don't you love a hip nun?

~ The third season of Gilmore Girls on DVD arrived today and I was actually available to answer the door to take the package. Ready the popcorn and Coke - we're havin' a Stars Hollow orgy 'round here this weekend!

~ What do you want to bet that sometime in the next thirty days someone comes to my blog after having Googled "stars hollow orgy"?

~ I miss diet gingerale.

~ A friend is coming by tomorrow afternoon to help me put B in his wheelchair. Even if it's cloudy or rainy tomorrow, we're going out. I can't pass up help when it volunteers itself. Maybe I can get some pictures as well.

Y'all enjoy exactly the sort of weekend you wish to have.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thursday magic photo blogging

The new camera battery charger has arrived. I now have three charged camera batteries. Commence with frolicking and merry-making to celebrate.

The new charger is stored in the cabinet under the television. Now your job will be to answer "It's in the cabinet under the TV!" every time I ask "Hey...where's that battery charger for the camera?"

Now let's make up for dead battery lost time with some photos. Magic photos! As ever, roll your cursor over the photo to make them change.

Here's Cozy in progress. I'd put it aside while I finished some other projects and spent time searching for camera battery chargers but I'm now on the third skein and it's going nicely. The changed photo is a close up of the feather pattern. Very fun to knit but nightmarish to unknit.

Kinder egg blogging! Here's what I uncovered today under that yummy chocolate.

And I seem to have assembled what you get when you cross a horse with a drag queen.

Here's the oak tree that's directly across the street from my kitchen window. I'm not 100% sure it's an oak but it has the same shape as oak trees I've had in my yard in the past so until I confirm it's something else, it's an oak. Here's my oak on a gray, cold late winter afternoon.

And in just a matter of about six weeks, it's all spring-like!

Y'all are thinking about hiding my battery charger from me, aren't you?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Would have been better with pictures

There are times when things don't seem to be going well but you still feel the need to keep plowing along.

Remember the battery charger for my camera? The one I can't find? B ordered a new one from a shop and the shop's supplier was late in delivering its shipment so the shop is late in getting the charger to me. I've been hoping each day it will arrive because I've been missing a lot of photo opportunities due to me having three dead camera batteries.

So what did the postman try to deliver today at the same time that I was in the shower shaving my legs? You don't even need to give it a thought, do you?

Visiting the post office tomorrow to claim my package goes on my schedule for tomorrow.

A few hours later while I was out walking my dog another package, this one from Amazon with this and this inside, was being delivered. Fortunately it happened when B's physiotherapist was there so she could take the package while I was off watching Bonnie search for the perfect blade of grass on which to pee. Reversal of fortune...for the moment.

B hasn't been out of our apartment since the day we moved in. Our dreadfully cold winter and practically non-exsistant spring has conspired to keep him housebound so when the weather today turned out to be perfect we made plans for B to get out. Things were really beginning to look up!

My MIL arrived a few minutes after B's physiotherapist left. I got him dressed, his wheelchair squeezed into the livingroom (since B is nearly 6'4" tall he doesn't really fit into normal wheelchairs and his electric one is much larger and heavier than normal), and we talked about where we'd like to go. Since he hasn't been outside in nearly six months his neck muscles aren't used to the near abuse they take bouncing along in a wheelchair so we figured that we'd stick close to home and maybe go to one of the many cafes in the area.

I can't put B in his wheelchair alone - he's a foot taller than me and while he's a rather slim guy, 160 pounds of near dead weight is just too much for me to lift. We also can't use a mechanical lift - no room and they don't get along with his wheelchair very well - so I need another person to lift his legs while I get him under his arms from behind and together we lift him off the bed and into his chair. It's not easy but it works and when you care for someone with a physical handicap, "it works" is sometimes the best you can do.

It's very important to get the wheelchair as close to B's bed as possible if you want the lifting proceedure to work properly. It's even more important that you turn off the controls to the wheelchair.


My MIL had grabbed B's legs around his knees. I had him under his arms from behind. Eins, zwei, drei...LOS! and the wheelchair began to roll backwards from my MIL pushing against the joystick. I had no time to say stop. I had no way to move. That 300 pound wheelchair rolled right onto the big toe on my left foot and cue the panic! I couldn't think. I couldn't say what was wrong. All I could do was scream from the pain and freak out at the thought of it continuing to roll backwards and breaking my toe. I was desperately trying not to drop B, my MIL didn't know why I was screaming and she was nearly about to drop him as she kept pushing the chair's joystick backwards and all I could think to scream was "Get it off my toe! Get it off my toe!".

Unfortunately I was screaming it in English. My MIL doesn't speak English.

All hell was breaking loose and yet we somehow managed to get B back on the bed and the chair off my toe. A moment was taken to assess the damage and when it was determined that my toe would survive we attempted the lift again, except this time B's not really in the right position for lifting him. We plowed ahead anyway 'cause that's what you do when you've just got to get it done and this time it was my MIL's turn to holler in pain. She was lifting his legs, she bumped against the wheelchair's controls turning it on again, it began to roll again, I began flailing at the buttons to turn the chair back off and just then one could hear a very audible "craaaack" and my MIL yelped. Somehow she got her back twisted the wrong way and she seems to have popped a disc in her back.

And B still wasn't in his wheelchair right.

At this point I barely wanted to go out anymore. I was in pain, shaking, sweating like a whore in church and worried that we've just crippled my MIL. But we plowed along in hope that it would be worth it all in the end.

And it was. We finally got outside, my MIL could still walk even though she could barely bend over and the weather was so fabulous that nothing short of having to request immediate medical assistance should keep us indoors.

We walked down to a restaurant located on the market square, sat at one of the tables outside and had some ice cream topped with the freshest, most delicious strawberries I've had in a long time. An old neighbor from when B was growing up came by and sat with us and treated us all to a dark beer. The sun warmed our faces and for the moment swollen, bruised toes and injured backs were forgotten. Reversal of fortune...for the moment. We still had to get B back into bed when we got home.

All I'll say about that is at least none of us ended up in the hospital - but we're glad the doctor is scheduled to come for her regularly scheduled housecall tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Today I tackled the job of getting carpet for my balcony and geraniums for my balcony's flower boxes. When buying the boxes and hooks last week one of the sales people told me that the carpet I wanted would be 4€ per square meter cheaper this week and they would have geraniums for 59 cents a piece as well so I went out early this morning to make sure I got in on the plants before they became picked over.

I had it planned to get the geraniums planted when my MIL came over this afternoon to help me and in preparation I wanted to assemble the hook system for the flower boxes. It seemed simple enough - there are two hooks per box and each hook consists of three parts that are screwed together in various formations to fit one's particular flower box and balcony/window railing.

I assembled one part of the hooks for a flower box and then went out onto the balcony to screw on the last piece that goes onto the balcony rail itself. I had the screws and wingnuts in my jeans pocket and the pieces of the hooks in my hands and as I was just nearing the rail of the balcony B called out "Be careful!".

It was at that moment that I dropped one section of the hooks and as it hit the balcony floor it managed to bounce through the one inch gap between the floor and the front wall of the balcony into no-man's-land.

You knew that was coming, didn't you?