Dixie Peach: January 2008

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Desperation Has Started

It's been extremely quiet around here so that means I'm resorting to a meme. But it's a book meme so it only gets half as many points on the blogging Cheez-O-Meter. Think of it as the light beer of memes.

Swiped from Hilda. She swiped it from Katya. They're both very groovy ladies.

1. Which book do you irrationally cringe away from reading, despite seeing only positive reviews?
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Everyone that I know who has read it loved it. And it's been made into a movie, right? Still I'm so afraid that I'm not going to like it and so I'm afraid to buy it. Like I don't want to blow my book money on something unless I'm really sure I'm going to like it. I feel so whiny about being scared off by this book. Even this answer sounds whiny!

2. If you could bring three characters to life for a social event (afternoon tea, a night of clubbing, perhaps a world cruise), who would they be and what would the event be?
I'd pick Josh, Biff and Maggie from Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. It would be a casual dinner party for Josh's birthday so that means we'd be eating lots of Chinese food.

3. (Borrowing shamelessly from the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde): you are told you can’t die until you read the most boring novel on the planet. While this immortality is great for awhile, eventually you realize it’s past time to die. Which book would you expect to get you a nice grave?
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. Actually I'd be ready to die if I got through that nearly 1000 pages of boredom.

4. Come on, we’ve all been there. Which book have you pretended, or at least hinted, that you’ve read, when in fact you’ve been nowhere near it?
Ha! Don Quixote! I have been somewhere near it though. I was supposed to read it for my AP English class when I was a senior in high school and I didn't read past the first hundred or so pages. I just couldn't bear reading another word of it. For the rest it was Cliffs Notes all the way, baby!

5. As an addition to the last question, has there been a book that you really thought you had read, only to realise when you read a review about it/go to ‘reread’ it that you haven’t? Which book?
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I'd sworn that I'd read it but it turned out that I was mixing it up with the half dozen times I've read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. That and I've seen that really dopey Tom Sawyer movie with Johnnie Whittaker and Jodie Foster about eleventy-million times.

6.You’re interviewing for the post of Official Book Advisor to some VIP (who’s not a big reader). What’s the first book you’d recommend and why? (if you feel like you’d have to know the person, go ahead and personalise the VIP).
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It's a classic and a fabulous story with accessible characters and a writing style that will appeal to those who are non-readers.

7. A good fairy comes and grants you one wish: you will have perfect reading comprehension in the foreign language of your choice. Which language do you go with?
German. I think the good fairy would take pity on the fact that now when I read a book in German I need to keep a German-English dictionary at my side. Plus it would be great to read German classics in original language. I don't have what it takes to tackle Mann or Goethe or Schiller or Hesse in original language.

8. A mischievous fairy comes and says that you must choose one book that you will reread once a year for the rest of your life (you can read other books as well). Which book would you pick?
Mischievous fairy is thirty years too late. I've been re-reading The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger every year since 1978.

9. I know that the book blogging community, and its various challenges, have pushed my reading borders. What’s one bookish thing you ‘discovered’ from book blogging (maybe a new genre, or author, or new appreciation for cover art-anything)?
Book swapping. The internet sure lets folks connect and get their previously read books passed around.

10. That good fairy is back for one final visit. Now, she’s granting you your dream library! Describe it. Is everything leather bound? Is it full of first edition hardcovers? Pristine trade paperbacks?
Big windows, lots of natural light, wooden floors with rugs, big comfy chairs and sofas to curl up on, good lamps for reading - not to stark but not to muzzy soft either. Window seats would be lovely. I'd have lots of built in shelves but a way to get to the books without climbing a ladder. No raggedy books and nothing dog eared or with broken spines. I love books in series so I'd like each series to be complete. And I'd love to have signed first editions of all my favorite novels.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In Winter's Icy Grasp

I believe that we're in the absolute pit of winter and there's no where to go from here but up. The weather is gray with grayer, windier, wetter weather on the way. Everyone is listless and bored and on the verge of putting on their grouchy pants. Little motivates us and procrastination is threatening to derail any progress we may attempt on anything we need to do.

I don't know about y'all but I could use some fun and stuff that simply makes me feel better. Or at least thinking about good stuff that makes me feel less in the grip of winter.
  • I'm reading a good book right now - The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen. It's a novel set in Washington state (Do you do that too? Always add the "state" when referring to Washington to make sure people don't think you mean DC? Maybe I always do it because I used to live outside of DC and if you said just Washington people knew you meant DC.) during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. A lot of parallels can be drawn between that time in history and now and the author intends for us to see those parallels - they can be a little heavy handed. I'm enjoying it because I tend to really like historical novels.

  • On Sunday I'll be going to Berlin to see my friend Elaine. I find myself sweating over what to wear, which seems ridiculous because of all my friends from childhood, Elaine was probably one of the least interested in being thought of as fashionable. She wore was suited her and that was one of the things I liked about her. Elaine wasn't much of a blind trend follower. I, on the other hand, have been known to say "Baaaaa!" a little too often.

  • Know what else I'm sweating? What knitting project to take with me on the train. I will be on a new project by then and I want it to be a project that has a pattern repeat that's easy to memorize so I don't have to drag around the pattern with me.

  • I miss babies. I see babies on the street all the time but they're not babies I know. I'm at that point in life where no one I know has kids that are babies and their own kids are too young to have babies on their own. I suppose when you reach your forties you have a baby deficit that lasts until you and your contemporaries hit your fifties. I miss giggling with babies though. They're so easy to amuse and their heads smell good.

  • I'm glad I'm seeing Elaine on Sunday because that means we can go out to lunch. Few things cheer me up like going out to lunch. It's not so much the eating part, but the being in a restaurant and having someone wait on you. It feels a little more luxurious to have someone wait on you in the middle of the day. In the evening it seems more expected but taking time in the middle of the day to go out to lunch feels more - well, decadent isn't quite the right word. It seems more leisurely. And going to lunch with girlfriends makes me think of classic movies where ladies did such things. It just seems so girly to have lunch with friends and talk. It always cheers me up to go out to lunch with a girlfriend or two.

  • I'm thinking that two of the greatest feelings a kid can wake up with is waking up and knowing it's their birthday and waking up and seeing that it's snowed a foot outside and school will be canceled.

  • I'd love to go to a flower show. Something held in a place that's warm and a bit steamy and filled with color. That's one of the things that drives me crazy about winter - the utter lack of color.

  • Red velvet cake and a big glass of icy cold milk. That's all.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Shuffle - Lottie Gets Around Edition

As you may remember when I told y'all about my trip to America last October I left my sock monkey, Lottie, with my friend, Ash. Lottie has been off visiting without be before - a couple years ago she spent the summer with my friend, Lisa where she did things like go shopping:


and go on picnics:


It only took one evening of hanging out with Lottie:


for Ash to know she wanted to take Lottie back with her to Carolina for a visit. Ash lives on a horse ranch and travels a lot so Lottie was anxious to expand her horizons and go home with Ash. Little did Lottie know how far her horizons would be expanded.

Helmsley, Ash's Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and Lottie became fast friends immediately. Lottie has such a knack for making friends very quickly and those who meet her say they feel as if they've know her all their lives.


Lottie's a city girl when she's here in Germany but there in Carolina with Ash she's learning the ways of country living. Lottie was anxious to learn to ride a horse and learning to sit a western saddle was easy for her.


When it was time to ride for real, Lottie was, of course, a natural.


Lottie's got her own horse now.

But the biggest adventure of Lottie's visit with Ash, would take them down to Florida. As his gift to her for Christmas, Ash's husband gave to her an opportunity to ride G-Force One ® - the airplane that recreates weightless flight. Here's Ash on her flight (she's on the far left):




And you have to know that Lottie wasn't going to miss out on this experience:



Note that Lottie's got a little flight suit, just like the rest of 'em! Lottie reported that it was an experience like no other and she'll remember forever the feeling of being weightless and then coming back down to the gravity of Earth. She was free for just a minute but it was a minute like no other.

I can't imagine what other adventures Lottie's going to have but I have a feeling it'll be hard topping weightless flight.

Let's shuffle:
  1. Kid Gloves - Voxtrot
  2. Mary Jane's Last Dance - Tom Petty
  3. Dumas Walker - Kentucky Headhunters
  4. Anarchy in the UK - The Sex Pistols
  5. You Wear It Well - Rod Stewart
  6. Everytime I Think Of You - The Babys
  7. Something To Talk About - Badly Drawn Boy
  8. Van Lear Rose - Loretta Lynn
  9. Burning Love - Elvis Presley
  10. Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow? - Rolling Stones
Have your own big adventures this weekend.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How I Will Not Be Helping With Worldwide Economic Recovery

My glasses broke. I used to be a hardcore contact lens wearer (Slept in them! Only cleaned them once a week! Courted all forms of eye funk!) until I entered the golden gates of middle aged-ness and had to begin wearing bifocals - the no line ones. I do have to keep some self-delusion of my youth and hipness. My glasses are half frames - the type that have the lens held in on the bottom with a thin plastic wire that's dug into the rim of the lens and when that little plastic wire popped off I went into a shit hemorrhage panic because I had no idea where my old glasses were located. I went around in my prescription sunglasses, bearing a striking resemblance to Roy Orbison for my efforts until I was able to locate a spare pair of regular glasses. Not my newer old pair but the pair I bought about 12 years ago and which make me bear a striking resemblance to Harry Potter.

As I don't wish to look like either a dead singer or a fictional teenage wizard I went down to my optician to have my glasses fixed. While I was there I thought I'd also take advantage of the special offer where I can get a complete pair of bifocal glasses for 99€. Perfect for me because:

A. I wouldn't mind having another pair of glasses just for a change of pace.
B. This is the fourth time I've had to have these glasses fixed - having back ups that are not only bifocals but also don't make me look like an ass would be nice.
C. I'm an incredible cheap-ass and I'd rather pay 99€ for spare glasses than the 350€ I paid for the ones that keep breaking.

I picked out a pair of frames, the optician checked my eyes to see if my prescription changed in the last 2 1/2 years (it hadn't), and as we sat down for him to make out the order he told me that my broken glasses had extra super special lenses with this and that crap on them.

I know dude. That's why the SOBs cost me 350€. We're sticking to the 99€ limit.

And my broken glasses have lighter lenses!

99€, fella. Stick to the program. Cheap-ass is seated here before you.

In reality I really would like to have the extra super special light lenses but there's nothing wrong with my broken you overlook the broken part...and I can't justify spending more money than necessary for something that's essentially a luxury for me. One pair of functional glasses = necessary. Two pair = unnecessary until I am reincarnated as Elton John.

After I left I walked around the mall and went to a shop in search of new clothes. Every shop screams that their wares are on sale and in this particular shop everything was 30% off. I looked around and found a wool coat that was nice and then a cardigan and then a tunic top and a blouse and there was a nice pair of pants that I liked and the sales lady was practically giddy as she showed me to a dressing room.

I hung everything up on a hook, took off my jacket and stared at the clothes before me. What was I doing? I don't really need new clothes. I have a wool coat that I don't wear now. Two, in fact. A cardigan? I hate sweaters! And I'm up to my eyes in tops and blouses. Sure, it was all on sale and 30% would be nice but not buying them at all would save me even more. Why was I going to spend money on stuff I really didn't need?

And I didn't feel like trying it all on anyway. Not wanting to try on clothes is the biggest incentive of all for not buying something. It's related to how I keep from overbuying at the supermarket. I often judge how much I'll buy based on how heavy it'll all end up being when I drag it up to my apartment.

The world's economy is going to have to rely on someone else to help right things. I'm simply too cheap and lazy to make the effort.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Simple Problem - Simple Solution

You've been off the hook for too long. I haven't tortured entertained you with knitting talk in ages! And you've been wanting some, I know.

I'm still in love with sock knitting and, as I've mentioned before, I've challenged myself to knit 15 pairs during 2008. But as in love with sock knitting as I am, I still suffer from an aversion to knitting the second sock of the pair. Sock knitting is a little like being in love. When you knit the first one the pattern is fresh, the yarn is still enticing and seductive and when you finish the last stitch you feel the rush of love for your completed sock. The second sock is a bit like marriage after ten years. You still love it but the rush isn't quite as strong and if you don't watch yourself you'll find yourself lusting over a gorgeous skein of yarn and a flirty new pattern and that second sock will never be finished. With sock knitting you've got to stay focused and true and on your game if you want a completed pair of socks. Either that or you need to start befriending a band of pirates.

Then on Ravelry in one of the sock knitting groups to which I belong I read where someone had written that they knit both of their socks at the same time. Knitting two socks at once isn't something new - if you knit them with circular needles that technique lends itself to knitting both socks at once. I, however, knit with double pointed needles if I'm knitting a flap heel and you can only knit one sock at a time with that method. Or so I thought until I read about a woman who always knits both at once - she just uses two sets of the same needles. She casts on, does the cuff for one, knits the cuff for the second, knits some of the leg, knits the same amount on the second (she employs a row counter so she knits the same amount of rows), finishes the leg, does the heel on each, and so on.

Before I read that it had never occurred to me to knit both socks at the same time. Something that simple and it just never entered my head to do things that way. Nothing like completely missing the obvious solution, is there?

And it works brilliantly. I hate knitting cuffs - to me it's the most boring part of the whole sock - and when I had finished both cuffs it was wonderful to know that I wasn't going to experience the satisfaction of finishing my sock and having the second cuff hanging over my head. I'm not very fond of picking up heel stitches for the gusset and getting it finished on both before even moving on to the foot was a great feeling.

Here's what I have finished so far:


The gusset is complete on the one on the left and 1/3 complete on the sock on the right and I'm still excited about knitting them. No thrill of finishing one and the dread of starting it all over again with much less satisfaction to be gained upon its completion. By the time I finish one sock I'll be within hours of finishing the second.

Pirates of the world, take notice. You're shit out of luck. Go elsewhere for your supply of single socks - there will be none to be found here.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Favorite Birthday Gift

Tiffany's little boy, William, is, hands down, my favorite three year old boy. He's sweet and absolutely adorable and has a smile that could melt the iciest heart. I could absolutely eat him up, he's so precious.

And today I got a fabulous gift from him.

I love a gift that makes me laugh and makes me tear up all at the same time.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Shuffle - I Remember You Edition

It was a nice surprise to receive an email the other day with the subject line "Do you remember Elaine [insert last name here]?". It seemed slightly silly for her to ask me if I remembered her since we became friends when we were ten years old and went to school together until we graduated but if I were writing the same email to her then I would have used the same subject line. 'Cause, you know, I guess you never really know.

Elaine and I haven't seen one another in about 25 years. We had some brief email contact about 7 or 8 years ago but that's pretty much been it for us. Still she remembered that I don't live all that far from Berlin and since she'll be traveling there in early February she asked me if perhaps we could get together while she's here.

I'm very excited by this. I haven't seen someone else that I went to school with since 1998 and I just don't keep up with any of them. And yet I talk about these people all the time. B and I grew up in obviously different ways and we can entertain one another for hours with stories from our school days. And since I was pretty good friends with Elaine during that time she figures in quite a few of these stories.

Remember when I talked about my singing days in elementary school? Elaine was there for that. She's seen me wear a prayer shawl and a beard! She remembers me before I had boobs and pierced ears. She remembers me before I had to wear glasses. She knew me before I could drive a car or do algebra. And when I was stopped by the police and threatened with arrest for trespassing on school property the night before graduating from high school, who was in my back seat? Elaine!

Elaine remembers me when I looked like this:


and when I looked like this:


and this:


and this:


and often when I see certain movies or hear certain songs, I think of her because she was there with me when I first saw or heard them.

Years ago that wouldn't seem all that important to me - having someone out there who remembers my youth - but as I get older it does. Tomorrow is my birthday and as I turn 46 it seems fitting for me to again be in contact with someone who remembers the same things as me - high school dances and football games and chemistry class and slumber parties. There's someone out there that remembers me when my ass wasn't as big and gravity didn't play such dirty tricks on me and gray hair wasn't being battled by my hairdresser. Someone who knew me when I was innocent and loved watching The Flintstones and I hadn't yet started shaving my legs. Someone who can testify that this girl really did once exist because she was there with her.

Since we're going to reminisce, let's let Bixente the iPod dig into my 70s music folder and see what he can shuffle up.
  1. Lonesome Loser - Little River Band
  2. ABC - The Jackson 5
  3. Jungle Boogie - Kool & the Gang
  4. Smokin' - Boston
  5. The Things We Do For Love - 10cc
  6. Jungle Love - Steve Miller Band
  7. Free Bird - Lynyrd Skynyrd (That happens to have been our senior class song.)
  8. Walk This Way - Aerosmith
  9. Josie - Steely Dan
  10. Show Me The Way - Peter Frampton

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shelf Life

The fourth season of Lost begins on January 31st and that means after that date I will have to avoid any mention of that show anywhere on the Internet. I can't take the chance of hearing any spoilers at all. What makes it worse is that I have no idea when the fourth season will begin in Germany. Last year they showed the third season beginning, I believe, in late spring and since the fourth season is getting a late start in the US it could be delayed here for even longer.

The online group of knitting Losties that I frequent? Avoid. News stories about Lost and even stories about cast members? Avoid. Any other online discussion group in general that even features the word "lost" in a thread title? Avoid because maybe the writer just doesn't like capital letters. I even need to be careful when reading blogs because by accident I've found spoilers that the author didn't even know would be a spoiler to anyone. Not to pick on her because it in no way was her fault - she couldn't have known - but on Katya's blog she once mentioned something that happened in the third season of Battlestar Galactica and I freaked because we hadn't, as of then, gotten the third season in Germany. In fact we're just getting the third season now and Katya made her accidental spoiler over a year ago so that bring up a question:

For how long could a plot detail in a movie or TV show or book be considered a spoiler?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has been out in English for about six months. If I were discussion things like who dies in the book, I'd put out a spoiler warning but it's been nearly five years since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was published. Do I need to still keep mum about who dies in that book? I haven't been able yet to see all of season seven of Gilmore Girls - should I still keep hollering that I need spoiler warnings for a show that's no longer in production? Since it's been over fifteen years since The Crying Game was released do I have to still keep mum that Stephen Rea got the shock of his life when he found out his girlfriend was sporting a penis?

Oops. Hope you didn't want to see that movie anytime soon.

If it's any comfort to anyone who accidentally read a spoiler they shouldn't have, it's likely that if it wasn't a big, big thing (I'd consider anything in Harry Potter VII to be a big, big thing) and if you let enough time pass, the spoiler shouldn't do any lasting damage. By the time I began to watch the third season of Battlestar Galactica I'd completely forgotten what was supposedly spoiled for me.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

City Bells

It started with the deep, bass tones of the cathedral bells and then slowly the other bells chimed in. At 9:28pm all the church bells in the city were rung to commemorate the destruction of Magdeburg in the bombing of January 16, 1945.

I normally love to hear the church bells ring. I live near a lot of churches and I hear them throughout the day striking the hour and calling worshipers to morning mass and when 6:00pm rolls around I hear them ring the Angelus. Most people ignore them but I like to pay attention when I hear them.

Tonight, though, they made me sad. As I stood on my balcony I could only think of each peal of each bell being a bomb that fell on the city that killed thousands, destroyed about 60% of the entire city and 90% of the old town area where I now live. I felt sad for the people who lost their lives and those who lost loved ones and those who were left homeless. I felt sad for the millions elsewhere who had lost everything because of one man and his war.

I can't imagine what it must have felt like to be in your home or in a movie theater or in a pub and suddenly have everything around you explode. I can't imagine the fright and confusion - the sheer terror of it all. B's father was a little boy of 8 when Magdeburg was bombed. There had been other bombings that he survived but this was the worst. Until he died he never got over it. He still had nightmares and a sudden, loud noise startled him no end.

My MIL grew up in a village about 15 miles from Magdeburg so she was spared the bombing but she vividly remembers hearing the planes fly over and she could see the sky glow with the flames of the city burning. She had relatives living in Magdeburg and she remembers riding her bicycle with her father to Magdeburg the day after the bombing to help him locate them and she said she saw things that were burned into her brain but she doesn't like to talk about. Luckily none of the relatives died that night although their homes were damaged but the bombs did eventually claim one. My MIL's uncle was a type of postman - he delivered telegrams and he was also responsible for delivering to homes the pay envelopes of workers. After the bombing of January 16th he simply had no more customers - they were all killed. He couldn't bear the sadness of losing every single person he delivered to each week so he went home and hanged himself.

The bells tonight rang for the same amount of time that the bombs fell - about ten minutes. The weather tonight is warmer than what is usual here for January but still I grew cold standing on my balcony in my shirt sleeves. If I thought it was a long time to stand there, how much longer did the time seem when instead of hearing bells one only heard airplanes flying over, explosions, screams, alarms - pure chaos. If I was cold how cold were the ones who managed to escape death but only had to their name the clothes on their backs?

I don't know if I believe in ghosts but if such things exist, I would imagine that where I live now would be filled with them. Hundreds and hundreds died in just the area where I can see simply standing on my balcony. And if they could talk to us now, what would they say? Do they now know more than they did back then? Do they know more than we do now? I think perhaps if they could talk to us then maybe they'd warn us all to end the hate everywhere before we end up suffering their same fate. As safe as I feel now in my home is maybe just as safe as they once felt in their own homes until they had to pay the price for hate.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Perhaps Easier to Get if You Live in Europe

Is it just me or does anyone else think that Nicolas Sarkozy:


looks like the love child of Louis de Funès:


and Adrian Monk?


From now on I'm referring to Sarkozy at LouMo.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Shuffle - I'm Begging You, Please Stop! Edition

I like being the good neighbor. I like being known as the friendly lady who smiles and greets everyone. I like to be helpful to my neighbors. I'm happy to take packages from the postman for someone, collect their mail, water their plants. I'll hold the front door and elevator for someone bringing in their groceries. I'll drive people to the grocery store if they need it. Hell, give me a list and I'll do your shopping for you!

I don't want to be the grouchy, surly neighbor. The one that you don't like to see. The one you talk badly about. The neighbor you don't want to help out. I don't want to be the neighbor that has to avoid everyone for fear that I'll be fussed at.

I really want to be cooperative and fair to my neighbors but the people living above me? By the time I began to cook dinner at 7:15 this evening my nerves were shot and I was having warm, fuzzy thoughts of going out on the street and throwing bricks in their windows. Why should I want to resort to such drastic behavior? Because their kids had been playing the piano since 2:00 this afternoon and with the exception of about three 20 minute breaks, it was non-stop. The same two songs over and over and over and over. Two songs without end and both played badly. There was not one time that either song was played without at least ten errors. And they'd play a particularly troublesome spot in the tune again and again - sometimes not more than five or six notes in constant repetition for ten or fifteen minutes straight.

And I tried desperately to tune it out. I turned up the sound on the TV but I hate a blaring TV so I'd turn it back down again. I simply try to ignore it but the same songs over and over were beginning to feel like a meat hook embedded in my brain. Finally I could not stand it any longer. Just before 7:00 this evening I began to bang on the heating pipes. She'd plink out the same five notes over and over and I'd rap on the pipes which had no effect on the plinking what so ever. She'd pause for maybe 90 seconds and then start again. Then someone else began rapping on their pipes (I suspect it was my next door neighbor who I believe doesn't like the piano playing either - she once asked me if it was me playing or the people above me and when I told her it was the people above me she seemed a bit disappointed...I think she wanted to tell me to knock it off). I was a little nervous that the other person banging on their pipes was banging on them in response to me but I don't think that was their impetus since they were rapping on their pipes two or three minutes after my last bang.

I know I should probably go up and tell these people to stop but, to be honest, I'm chicken shit. I don't want to get into a tangle with these people. Under normal circumstances, they're nice folks. I don't want to rain on their kids' parade. I like them and I like saying hello to them and being pleasant. If I say something about that horrible piano playing, I'm afraid it's all going to come to an end and I'll end up skulking through the halls trying to avoid seeing them and getting glares of contempt from them. Plus I really, really hate confronting people while speaking German. I get flummoxed and upset and my grammar all goes to shit and it's hard being effective when your grammar has all gone to shit. German isn't my first language and German isn't their first language and I'm afraid misunderstandings may fly around needlessly. I've already lived through one neighbor war that caused me to move. I don't want another battle with someone living above me.

In my dream world my next door neighbor would go with me and she'd do all the talking. I'm pretty sure she doesn't like this piano stuff any more than I do, especially since she's a nurse and works night shifts on rotation and so sometimes sleeps during the day. I've been trying for a year of this piano stuff to just grin and bear it and say it's not so bad but today has proven to me that I'm not made of the sort of stuff that can withstand five hours of the same six notes over and over. However, if the Bush administration needs a place to carry out a new form of their, so called, enhanced interrogation, they can try my living room. Hell, after five hours of that piano torture I was ready to confess to being an insurgent.

Let's have some real music. Time to shuffle.
  1. The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald - Gordon Lightfoot
  2. Good Woman Down - Mary J. Blige
  3. Baby's In Black - The Beatles
  4. Let's Stay Together - Al Green
  5. Be Gone - British Sea Power
  6. The Grand Tour - George Jones
  7. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine - The Killers
  8. The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead - XTC
  9. I Started A Joke - Bee Gees
  10. All I Need - Radiohead
Have a good weekend, y'all.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thursday Haiku

Maybe if I entice her with some I can get Sari to haiku too.

Stop that piano
Neighbor's playing three hours
Out of tune torture.

No knitting today
And not yesterday either
I'm way off schedule.

Postman rings doorbell
My birthday presents are here!
Open them next week.

Need a manicure
Could use a pedicure too
Now where's that nail file?

Got Gerd's 'puter fixed
Can go online wireless
Now leave me alone!

Mardi Gras comes soon
Want to bake me a King Cake
All green, gold, purple.

Tomorrow's Friday
You know that brings the Shuffle
Bixente's ready.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A New Year Brings New Dots

I'm beginning to run out of clever ways to introduce bulleted lists. As if I had clever ways in the first place.
  • Should I be worried that I'm in the throes of mid-winter malaise and I'm not all that concerned about it? That I spend my days being all hausfrau-y and then when all is clean and tidy I knit like crazy. Then when my tennis elbow flares up, which, of course, is certainly not caused by me playing tennis - I haven't played tennis since Carter was president - I read. Thank goodness B got me a lot of books for Christmas because my elbow has been rather bad lately. Thing is, I think I should be worried about the lack of enthusiasm or get-up-and-go-ness or spirit of adventure but honestly, I'm feeling very homebody-ish lately and I'm dug in like a hedgehog.

  • My birthday is in less than two weeks and my MIL asked me what I'd like to have as a gift. I'd like a new bedside lamp for my bedroom so I suggested that for a gift with the idea that she'd say "Oh great! Let's go shopping for it next week!". Instead Gerd piped up and said "We should go to that store that's down there behind blahblahblahblah - they have nice lamps.". No mention of me going with them to pick out a lamp that I'd like. Now I'm sweating that they're going to pick out a lamp that I think is ugly or isn't a style that I wanted. My only comfort is the fact that the way the bedroom is arranged, the lamp wouldn't be seen by anyone but me. In the pre-Gerd world my MIL and I would always shop together for stuff like this. I'm definitely in the post-Gerd world now.

  • I took a package for one of my neighbors today. I always take packages for my neighbors. I'm home most of the day and it's no skin off my nose to do it. Plus it gives the added advantage of being known in the building as the very nice neighbor lady. I like being known as the very nice neighbor lady because being known as the assholey, grouchy neighbor lady can cause you to have crap - perhaps literal, perhaps not - tossed in your mailbox and no one will hold the elevator for you. Anyway, neighbor dude came to get his package - no idea what it was but it was one heavy, awkward-to-lift SOB - and I must have made his whole day. He was so freakin' happy that I took this package for him and that he wouldn't have to wait another day to get whatever it was he got that I thought he was gonna dance a jig at my door. What really got me was that he acted like I'd done the biggest favor in earth for him. I thought about that after I closed the door. Is it good that someone can show his appreciation so readily or is it so sad that being a good neighbor seems to be rare enough that when someone does another neighbor a kindness it's treated like a rare event?

  • I think my eyelashes are getting shorter. I mean I've already come to the conclusion that they're getting more sparse but now I'm thinking they're actually getting shorter.

  • Here's the sock I'm working on - the pattern is seeded ribbing check. I'm using a different method for me to knit this pair. This time I've cast on for both socks on two different sets of needles. I knit one for a while and then switch and knit the same amount on the other sock and then back to the first one again. I think I'll be much more likely to get the second socks finished using this method. Of course it doesn't look like I've knit all that much but that much is done on the second sock of the pair.

If mid-winter malaise keeps up and my elbow holds out I may be finished with a whole pair of hand knitted socks in record time.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Friday Shuffle - Happy at Home Edition

As far as I'm concerned, once Christmas is over, we can speed right along into spring. I don't like winter. I don't like cold weather. I like to watch snow falling but hate it once it has landed. The only thing winter related that I like is my birthday and I'd even settle putting off its celebration until warm weather, a la Queen Elizabeth, if it meant that I could avoid even one drop of freezing rain.

I worked eleven years for an electric utility and was married to a transmission lineman to boot, and I spent those years having bad weather control my life. While snow and ice would bring a day off for many people it meant for me coming in to work no matter what and don't be late and by the way, plan on working overtime. I didn't do the standard freak-out of hearing that snow was forecast and rushing to the store to stock up on milk, bread and toilet paper because I wasn't going to be home to use the milk, bread and toilet paper anyway and neither was my now ex-husband. I instead heard such forecasts and considered whether to bring to work a change of clothes or just hope that they'd let me go after a sixteen hour shift so as to not to have to pay me double-time.

One of the things I like about Germany is that people here don't seem to wet their pants over impending bad weather. It's Germany - snow and ice are gonna come. Sure, they warn you for slippery driving but there's no prediction for how many centimeters will get dumped on us and the forecasts aren't given with a sense of doom. There's no panic buying in the grocery stores that I've ever noticed - perhaps because in Germany you can buy H-Milch (for you not familiar with H-Milch it's milk that's super heated to kill bacteria and then it can be stored, unopened, at room temperature for a couple months) and you can't swing a dead cat around this country without hitting a bakery. It could snow up to your ears and you'd still be able to crawl to a bakery and get a loaf of fresh bread.

Still, when I know that snowy, icy weather is on the way, I like to be prepared. I like to make sure that I have my grocery shopping finished. No panic shopping and stocking up - just my regular weekly marketing finished and enough supplies to make meals for a week. I could still get out and shop when it's snowing but I simply don't want to. I want to stay at home and keep warm and dry. I get all homey feeling when it's lousy weather so I like to have baking supplies on hand because nothing makes you forget freezing rain faster than cookies warm from the oven. I like to have lots of movies to watch and books to read and, of course, a knitting project on needles. I get such a feeling of contentment being at home, warm and safe and dry with lots of things to keep me entertained, and knowing I don't have to set one foot outside if I don't want to.

We're supposed to get freezing rain tomorrow and I'm ready for it. And when I see the streets glazed over I'm going to snuggle on the sofa with a good book and have the memory of every time I got stuck working overtime when we'd get bad weather fade a bit more.

Bixente the iPod will be there to entertain me as well. Time to shuffle.
  1. Livin' In The Future - Bruce Springsteen
  2. Shambala - Three Dog Night
  3. Back In Baby's Arms - Patsy Cline
  4. Ballroom Blitz - Sweet
  5. Big Casino - Jimmy Eat World
  6. Cold As Ice - Foreigner (Bixente, you're such a comedian)
  7. Our House - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (Okay, I get the idea)
  8. I Should Have Been True - The Mavericks
  9. Home - Foo Fighters (Bixente, now you're just being a smart aleck)
  10. On The Moon - Peter Cincotti
Happy weekend, everyone.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Snow Rookie

The first day of 2008 brought us the first snow of the season. I'm not a fan of snow and view it as a hassle but one of my favorite memories comes to mind whenever I see it snow.

I was in the ninth grade and we lived in Virginia where it would actually snow worth a damn, unlike the snow one gets in Mississippi which should not be called snow but instead labeled "white panic maker falling from the sky". It had snowed something fierce and school was out for an entire week.

My friends and I would get together each afternoon and often go sledding. Behind the house of one of the guys was a hill that we'd sledded on so much it eventually became nothing but icy grass. The hill went straight down into some wood and once you got to the bottom of the hill you had to be pretty careful. Steer too sharp to the left and you'd hit a big rock. Steer too sharply to the right and you'd hit a tree. Steer straight ahead and you'd hit a huge brier bush. The trick was to go straight down and after you passed a big tree but before you hit the briers you'd have to steer gently to the right. Pretty clear, right?

We'd been doing it for days and no one suffered a mishap. Sure, there would be a couple wipe outs but nothing too bad and we were having a great time. It was a pretty evenly divided group between boys and girls and we were all good friends. We'd sled and talk about movies or music and maybe talk about what we'd do together the next day - go sledding again or maybe hang out at someone's house and play records and dance.

There was one fella in the group, Doug, who was new. It was February and his family had moved to Virginia just after Christmas. One of the girls, Susan, knew Doug from her French class and since he was cute and no one else had gotten their claws into him, Susan invited him to hang out with our group of friends. All us girls were crazy about Doug. He was so handsome and very smart and terribly friendly. Exactly the sort of guy our mothers wanted us to date. His only drawback was he couldn't sled worth a damn. He'd been living in Hawaii for the past five years and hadn't seen snow since he was about twelve years old. He'd try but mostly he would either sled by himself and stick out his feet and stop himself when he started going too fast or he'd have to ride behind one of the girls who knew what she was doing. We girls didn't mind having him snuggled up behind us but it had to be a little embarrassing to him. No one picked on Doug about it but you could tell he wanted to steer the sleds like the rest of us but he had no real clue how to do it.

Finally someone suggested that he lay down on the sled on his stomach and steer with his hands. He was a little hesitant about sledding head first but his pride kept him from chickening out. And either as a way to look cooler or as a way to seem a bit more in control, Doug asked me to ride along with him, me laying on his back. Hmmm...ride down the hill while on the back of a really cute boy. Okay!

Doug lay down on the sled and I laid face down on his back. "Now look, Doug. Just steer straight until you pass the tree on the right then turn the sled towards the right. Just steer along the path we've made. It'll be easy!".

One of the other guys gave us a good boot down the hill and off we went flying. I was the envy of the other girls and Doug was finally learning how to steer a sled properly. I looked up and saw he was steering too much too the right and we were heading towards the tree. I screeched "Doug! Pull to the left!" and Doug pulled alright. We began to lurch to the left and skidded right into the big rock on the left of the path. I went flying off of Doug's back, somehow did a flip in mid-air and landed on my back in the brier bush. I didn't have time to register where I was before Doug landed right on top of me and the sled went flinging by, missing us completely.

That was the greatest sled ride I've ever had.