Dixie Peach: January 2009

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Shuffle - Panic Button Edition

My oldest brother is a smart man. Well educated. He has a master's degree from Duke University and has a PhD from USC. He teaches children with learning disabilities. So can someone tell me why he can't seem to get that California and Germany are in different time zones? Vastly different time zones? That there is a nine hour time difference between them?

I was deeply asleep and in the midst of a dream involving my sister, buying a car and a soccer game when the phone rang. Two of them actually - the extension that sits in the hallway by the front door and shrieks as loud as a tea kettle and the one in the living room which ain't no slouch either when it comes to waking one from a dead sleep. My legs were wound up in the duvet so by the time I untangled them and had dashed into the living room, the fourth ring was starting up and then abruptly stopped before I could snatch up the receiver.

It's been my general experience that anyone who calls at 3:30am isn't calling to chat. They're calling because they're in trouble or because they have bad news to report. Being awakened by the phone ringing had stirred me up quite well but when adding in that it was the middle of the night and that whoever it was hung up before I could reach it had me on the verge of a shit hemorrhage panic.

Our cordless phone has a feature that shows the number of who is calling so I checked to see if it stored the number of my phantom caller. Unfortunately I can't remember which direction you press the scroll button to start at the last call so I couldn't tell if the caller was our friend, Kirsten, or my brother, Bill. The likelihood of it being Kirsten seemed pretty remote - even if someone had died I couldn't imagine Kirsten calling before morning. Now it would be possible, I suppose, for my brother to call with bad news but it seemed more likely that he would call my sister first and then she would be the bearer of bad tidings.

By now I was wide awake and my nerves were jangling from the fright so I called my sister. You may wonder why I didn't just call my brother back and the reason for that seemed very logical to me at the time. I was pretty sure that the number recorded on my phone was Bill's but I wasn't completely sure. Bill moved from Los Angeles to Berkeley a few months ago but the phone number had an 818 area code - an area code in the LA area. It could have been the phone number for his cell phone that didn't get changed but then again maybe it was someone else who lives in LA who has my phone number but was calling from 818. I don't know anyone else in the LA area who lives in 818 but at the time my though processes were a bit hampered. I also wanted to speak with my sister because if Bill had bad new for me, I would rather hear it from her than from him and I know for a fact that if there was tragic news, he would have called her before calling me. In our family, extended family included, if there's bad news to be told, the first person you tell is my sister.

So I called my sister and when she answered there was an enormous amount of static on the line so I only had time to say "It's me. This line is bad. Hang up and I'll call you back". Of course I wasn't thinking of the effect my calling at that time of night would have on her. I rang her back immediately and her first question after answering was "What is it? What's happened?". I'm sure she was expected terrible, tragic news and was likely a bit surprised when I answered "Is Bill's cell phone number 818-blah-blahblah?". She told me she would have to look it up in her cell phone to check (and by the way, I could have looked it up on my cell phone had I even a glimmer of a logical thought in my head) and while she looked she said "What is going on anyway? Why are you calling in the middle of the night? You've scared the hell out of me!". I went on to explain about the phone ringing and me not catching it in time and me seeing what was perhaps Bill's cell phone number on my phone and me wanting any sort of bad news from her and not him and by the was nothing was wrong, was there? Sister replied that everything was fine as far as she knew and she couldn't imagine Bill calling me with bad news before calling her and yes, that number is Bill's cell phone number and you know Bill. He probably got the notion to call you and didn't even think about there being a nine hour time difference until the phone rang and then he hurried up and hung up not thinking that a call like that in the middle of the night was bound to scare the shit out of you.

Now that both of us were nervous wrecks we said goodnight to each other and I told her I'd call her over the weekend and at a normal hour. I reassured B that everything was fine and crawled back into bed, completely wound up and completely unable to fall asleep. In order to get my mind off my fright and off of wanting to brain my brother for scaring me and, in turn, scaring my sister, I grabbed Fletcher the iPod and listened to a couple podcasts from I'm a little sleep deprived but am more knowledgeable about vikings and comas than I was before I went to bed.

Time to shuffle.
  1. Rain - The Beatles
  2. Seminole Wind - James Taylor
  3. Hey Now - Tenfold Loadstar
  4. No Myth - Michael Penn
  5. Far Behind - Candlebox
  6. Chinese Dogs - Dirty Pretty Things
  7. Je Cherche Un Homme - Eartha Kitt
  8. Tonight - Shooting Star
  9. In The Heartland - Michael Stanley Band
  10. Passionate Kisses - Mary-Chapin Carpenter

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Making Light

Our ability to bear it any longer has been sorely tested in the past few days.

About six weeks ago we bought a new floor lamp for the living room. We'd been using one for years that takes a halogen bulb and we wanted to switch over to a lamp that uses those energy saving bulbs. Colder light but I like the idea of using 55 watts to get 250 watts worth of light. But for the past few weeks the light seemed to be getting dimmer. At first I thought it was because I wasn't turning the dimmer up all the way but even with it turned all the way up the light seemed to not be as bright as it was before.

B suggested that I pop out the bulb and pop it back in to see if it would help but I had gotten sort of freaked out when I first put the bulb in. It snaps into place and it was not easy to get it snapped in - a lot of pushing and me worrying that I'd break something. I had visions of the bulb shattering like a florescent bulb and making that horrific exploding noise as it did so. I tried to pull the bulb back out but getting it yanked out was turning out to be much more difficult than snapping it in and after a few minutes I was nearly in tears and whimpering, "Why do I have to do all the crappy jobs? Why do I have to snap out bulbs and get rid of spiders and open champagne bottles? Why do I have to be the one who clears the snow off the car and go into the creepy-ass basement? Why? Why?!".

I threw in the towel and suggested that perhaps I'd get Gerd to do it. Maybe even get a new bulb and have him switch them out. And while I'm on the subject, why in the hell am I misspelling bulb each time I type the word? Bulp, bulm, bump, bumb - each attempt to type bulb takes me two tries! Even then I just typed bulp!

We sat here a little longer - the lamp seeming to be dimmer than it had been an hour before and I finally said "I can't stand it anymore! I can't see shit around here! There's more light in a funeral home! We'd do better with candles lit than with what this piece-o-crap is giving out!". We do have an overhead lamp but it's one of those high intensity light jobs so it's a bit like living in a jewelry store. My diamond jewelry looks great but the lamps burn my scalp. Of course that opened me up to having to go into the creepy-ass basement to get the old floor lamp I'd put into storage down there.

In reality our basement is very tidy. The walls are brick and painted white so it looks quite clean. There is rat bait down in the corners but I've never seen any rodents down there. I've never even seen a spider. However it's a maze of little hallways and to get to my storage area I have to go to the very back corner. Making my way to my storage area makes me feel a bit like Danny Torrance at the Overlook. I'm going to make a turn and run into slaughtered twins.

Scooting down quickly to my storage area was easy. Scooting out quickly was impossible because the lamp I was fetching has a weighted base and the thing must weigh a good fifteen pounds and it's about six feet tall. The basement's ceiling is low with pipes for the steam heating criss-crossing it. I was inching along trying to keep the base from bumping the ground while trying not to whack the glass globe on one of the pipes and at the same time trying not to tip the lamp over so far that the dead, dried moths that had accumulated in the open globe didn't dump out into my hair. Oh hush. So I didn't vacuum out the lamp's globe before storing it. So what? I didn't think I'd be using it again. Certainly not with six weeks of its initial storage.

By the time I made it back into my apartment I was nearly hysterical, what with the creepy-ass basement, hefting that heavy lamp up the stairs, dodging the steam pipes (which scare me anyway - I always picture them bursting open and scalding me as I walk under them) and avoiding my hair being coated in dried moth carcassas. I got the crummy new lamp moved out of the way and the old one put into its place and then...

"Ahhhhh! That's much, much better. Light! You're amazing! You made light!". To B I had performed a near miracle. "I couldn't stand that other light anymore. It was making me so depressed!"

"You mean you're not depressed because you're a quadriplegic but you were depressed that the lamp was so dim?"

"Yes! That's it! Now I'm much happier."

And then to thank me for saving him from another evening of depression he ordered Chinese food for dinner. That alone was worth the trip to the creepy-ass basement.

Monday, January 26, 2009

If We Get Our Way

...and all goes well, we're going to move to Australia. B has a ton of cousins living in Adelaide, Australia and they routinely beg us to come down there. And you know we'd love that. I'd love to live around his cousins. I adore them. They're very tight with each other and I want to be included in that clan. Finally living around a whole pile of folks who have the same last name as we have. A large extended family that celebrate holidays and birthdays and vacations together. What could be better than that?

So what does us getting our way entail? Just one simple thing. We just need to win twenty-eight million euro on Wednesday when the lottery numbers are drawn. I've done my part. I've played. All I'm waiting on is for my numbers to be drawn. I don't believe it's too much to ask.

And now y'all know what we daydream about on dreary winter afternoons.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Shuffle - Peaked Too Soon Edition

The week started out eventful enough. I had a birthday on Monday and on Tuesday the United States gave me a wonderful gift - a president I dig the mostest. After that things sort of went downhill. Nothing bad happened but nothing remarkable either. You have to admit, it's hard to top a historic presidential nomination so I didn't even bother. I did errands in the morning, after lunch I would concentrate on watching biathlon in the background as did my regular household stuff and then in the late afternoon I'd settle in to watch Germany play in the team handball world cup.

I'm getting more European by the day. Next thing you know I'll be participating in protest marches and wearing Birkenstocks. Wait. I've already past that point.

Let's shuffle.
  1. Put On Your Tight Pants (Hi Heel Sneakers) - Ike & Tina Turner
  2. Semi Automatic - The Boxer Rebellion
  3. Flathead - The Fratellis
  4. Lil' Jack Slade - Dixie Chicks
  5. Ballroom Blitz - Sweet
  6. Get It On (Bang A Gong) - Marc Bolan & T. Rex
  7. Scarecrow People - XTC
  8. I Am A Rock - Simon & Garfunkel
  9. Say Goodbye To Hollywood - Billy Joel
  10. Mister Garfield - Johnny Cash


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Witness to History

I'm not a good enough writer to be able to express how the inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States has touched me. There are so many feelings and emotions tied to this event that words don't seem adequate enough. Still I have to say that I feel so honored, so lucky that I was able to witness the event. I saw it. I know what happened because I watched it happen.

There are so many great events in history that very few ever witnessed. We know about it from books and perhaps there are photographs or paintings depicting the event but few people were there to see it happen. One of the greatest advantages of technology is that it brings us together and joins people from around the world and we're now able to witness history in a way that never would be possible without it. Watching the inauguration of the first African-American president of the United States was deeply touching and it was even more meaningful knowing that friends and family from around the world were able to see and experience it with me. For the rest of our lives no one will be able to take that away from us nor take away the emotions it stirred in us.

I'm so proud of my homeland. I'm so hopeful and optimistic for her future. I feel that one day when we reflect back on when the United States began on her new path of greatness we'll be able to point to this day as its beginning. And we're going to be able to say we were witness to it.

May God bless President Obama and guide him as he leads our nation. May God bless us all.

Monday, January 19, 2009

100 Things About Dixie - Part III

Darling Mollie is amused no end by my previous lists of 100 things about me so as a treat for her and to commemorate my 47th birthday, here's the third (and final) list.

1. I don't like laying around all day in my pajamas. If someone calls and says "Let's go out to lunch" then all I want to have to do is grab my purse.
2. As a small child I didn't understand the idea that Kimberley was my whole first name. I was always called Kim so I thought the "berley" part was my middle name.
3. I wasn't given a middle name when I was born so number 2 isn't completely illogical for a four year old to believe.
4. Chocolate drink preferences in this order: Ovaltine, Bosco, Hershey's Syrup. Nesquik doesn't get a vote because of its lousy ability to dissolve completely. YooHoo is simply chocolate colored water.
5. If you look very closely at my high school senior portrait you'll see that I plucked one of my eyebrows so thin it's plucked clean in half.
6. I never eat in bed. The idea of breakfast in bed repulses me. Even while hospitalized I had to get up and eat sitting in a chair.
7. I only like McDonald's hamburgers for the itty bitty reconstituted onions on them.
8. I'd rather have my home electronics stolen than to have any of my Christmas ornaments lost.
9. I prefer to write with gel pens.
10. I wear lipstick all the time but hate lip balm unless I have chapped lips.
11. When I wear glasses, they're almost always smeary within ten minutes of putting them on.
12. I go to the zoo a few times a year but it always depresses me a bit.
13. I can barely remember how life was before I had Hungarian salami.
14. I like drinking at outdoor cafes but I would rather be indoors if I'm planning on eating anything.
15. I used to adore Claudio Pizarro but he broke my heart.
16. My first iPod is named Bixente. He's named after Bixente Lizarazu.
17. My current iPod is named Fletcher. He's named after one of my cousins.
18. I've seen Bixente Lizarazu more recently and perhaps more often than I have my cousin Fletcher.
19. I love filling out questionnaires. One of my greatest joys was my father letting me fill out our 1980 census because it was the long form.
20. I was terribly disappointed when in 1990 I got only the short form.
21. Bitter resentment remains now that I will never again get to fill out a US census form.
22. What I remember most about taking the ACT in high school was that I was terribly sick during the test and would have to go out and throw up during the breaks.
23. Still got a good enough score on it to get a little scholarship from of the universities to which I applied.
24. I'd rather deal with taking care of a pet than take care of houseplants.
25. As soon as I get on an airplane I set my watch to the time at my destination.
26. I have in my bathroom four different brands of shampoo and conditioner, all with different scents.
27. Using one brand of shampoo and another brand of conditioner is completely out of the question.
28. I cried when my mother sold her house and threw away the nearly thirty-five year old set of encyclopedias. I hadn't read each volume from cover to cover but I was close.
29. The most frequently used name of the women from whom I'm descended? Martha. Of the men? William.
30. If I could have any dress in the world I would have the first dress that Grace Kelly wears in Rear Window.
31. When I was a kid I used to bite off the plastic tipped ends of my mother's bobby pins.
32. I also would gnaw on the kohl wood furniture we had in the family room.
33. Evidently I needed more fiber in my diet. And petroleum products.
34. Chocolate drink preferences in this order (Part II): chocolate milkshake, chocolate malted milk, chocolate milk. YooHoo is still being shunned.
35. When I'm at home I like to drink my water from plastic cups.
36. Once I became an adult I couldn't wait to be summoned for jury duty.
37. I was very envious when my ex-husband got summoned for jury duty.
38. I was even more bummed out when he got selected to serve but the case was settled out of court.
39. When did I finally get summoned for jury duty? A year after I moved to Germany.
40. There was a time when I would not speak on the phone with strangers because it made me nervous.
41. If I snap my fingers my dog will stop what she's doing and come to me.
42. It wigs me out a bit that in Germany taxi drivers generally expect you to sit in the front seat.
43. The Lincoln Memorial at night is one of my favorite places in the world to be.
44. Jukeboxes are irresistible to me.
45. I always wanted Flintstones chewable vitamins when I was a kid. We got stuck with boring One-a-Day.
46. My favorite dress when I was in the first grade was a pink one my mother made. It was sewn from a Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang themed pattern.
47. The first movie I ever saw in a theater was Mary Poppins. The second was The Sound of Music.
48. Once when I had a sinus infection I had a fever so high that I became disoriented and was lost in my own house.
49. Being tipsy is fine. Being drunk weirds me out.
50. The contents of my dresser drawers looks like it's been stirred with a stick but everything in my wallet and purse must always be in its proper place.
51. I wish I could ice skate well despite the fact that I have never truly enjoyed any time I was ice skating.
52. Every home I've lived in since 1968 has had a front that faced east and a back that faced west.
53. Whenever I fly I always drink tomato juice.
54. If I see you using a kitchen knife with your index finger extended over the blade I may be very tempted to take that knife and use it on you.
55. I have a campaign button for every Democratic presidential nominee since Jimmy Carter.
56. At one time all German sounded the same to me but now I can recognize various regional accents.
57. Mmmmm...biscuits.
58. I envy people who can sketch.
59. There are maybe five poems that I like. Otherwise poetry bores the daylights out of me.
60. Chocolate drink preference (Part III): I've never had an egg cream but I have had chocolate sodas and they're disgusting. Like a YooHoo that fizzes.
61. Dixie cups seem like a waste of paper to me. Don't want to spread germs? Wash the glass when you're finished with it!
62. I'm terrible at selling anything because I am afraid of people telling me no. I couldn't even sell Girl Scout cookies because I was too scared to ask people if they'd like to buy them. Who in the world couldn't sell even one box of Girl Scout cookies?
63. I have shorter than normal pinky fingers.
64. I also have a larger than normal head.
65. And I have a small mouth and large eyes.
66. All things indicate that I'm actually an alien from outer space.
67. I prefer the word see-saw over teeter-totter.
68. I love the sound of a Zippo lighter being opened, lit, and then the lid being snapped shut again.
69. Wearing mittens freaks me out.
70. My fingers suffer from claustrophobia.
71. In my kitchen is a photograph of me and my friend, Lisa, eating a Dairy Queen peanut buster parfait sundae.
72. And a photograph of a grinning nun.
73. And a photograph of of a grinning sock monkey.
74. I have wine glasses that my MIL gave me on my wedding day. My MIL, on her wedding day, received them from her grandmother. And my MIL's grandmother originally received them on her wedding day.
75. They've never been used by anyone ever.
76. Whenever I see a swing set I'm always tempted to walk over and give them a go.
77. Before I moved to Europe you never would have been able to convince me that my three favorite sports to watch would be soccer, biathlon and team handball.
78. The first film I ever saw in a theater without one of my parents being present was The Poseidon Adventure.
79. I tell that little fact to my husband every single time I see that film being shown on television.
80. I pronounce the word "nostepinne" as "nos-te-pin-eh".
81. I predict that you're now saying "What in the hell is a "nostepinne"?
82. I dislike for my hands to be wet so washing dishes is quite an adventure for me.
83. Having to hold a piece of paper in my mouth, even for a moment, is a sure way to trigger my gag reflex.
84. I love driving over bridges. I could be one of those folks who people with gephyrophobia hire to drive them over bridges.
85. It's almost impossible for me to say no to my nieces and nephews. And they know it.
86. One of the more horrifying experiences of my life: wearing a strapless bra under a chiffon bridesmaid dress.
87. Best Flintstones episode ever: when Fred buys a stolen piano for Wilma for their wedding anniversary.
88. I love hearing stories about my husband's grandmother, Oma Friedchen.
89. Fly, do not test my patience. I virtually never miss when armed with a flyswatter.
90. I plant geraniums in my flower boxes each year which is somewhat amazing since I can't stand for dirt to be on my hands.
91. Two things I would indulge in if I were a multi-millionaire: travel and custom tailored clothes.
92. The only two rules about ice hockey I'm fairly certain about is that the puck has to go in the goal and it's not right to slap your opponent in the face with your stick. Otherwise I'm not too sure about how it all works.
93. I collect antique keys.
94. I use my cell phone as an alarm clock more than I use it as a telephone.
95. Every time I hear that someone loves Kraft Macaroni and Cheese I feel relieved that there's one other person out there who's willing to admit it.
96. I never knew how gruesome many Brothers Grimm fairy tales are until I read them in original German.
97. When watching the final credits in a film I have to look at who the catering company was to see if they have some clever, pun-based name.
98. My husband detests for me to snap my fingers around him. He's threatened to chew off my hands if I tease him with it.
99. I can go up on an escalator but I avoid going down on one unless I have absolutely no other choice.
100. I live on Broadway.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Shuffle - Baby's First Shuffle Edition

I've named him Fletcher.


For my birthday on Monday my wonderful husband has presented me with an red iPod nano and I feel pretty good about my decision to go with a nano instead of an iPod classic.

I thought at first that I'd pick the classic for the storage space and to use for data transfer but I know that I'd end up not really using it to its full capacity. I'd probably not use it to half capacity. We have already a 250 gig external hard drive and are likely going to buy another so that's what we use for backing up files and for data transfer. And while being able to carry around my whole iTunes library might be nice, I don't really want to do that. I don't watch video on my iPod, I don't tote around photos on my iPod and I simply don't want to carry around the complete works of Mozart on my iPod. Mozart can keep his ass at home.

The 16 gig nano seems to be more of what I want to use an iPod for. When I'm at home I listen to music straight from my computer. My iPod is for when I'm out shopping or on the streetcar or for when I'm exercising or when I'm in the kitchen. Sixteen gigs is more than enough space for me to load up a tremendous amount of songs and a few podcasts. And the size is just right. Slim and compact, he'll fit into just about any pocket. I'm not fond of lugging around with me a lot of stuff when I'm out so a portable size is just what I want.

And the cute factor. Did you see him? He's red! While it was very tempting to get the pink or purple nano (even the blue was quite tempting), I couldn't pass by the red. It's like red lipstick. Classic and beautiful and sure to be noticed.

Last night while watching There Will Be Blood I whipped out an iSock for Fletcher the iPod. I have so much scrap yarn I may be making a new one for him for each day of the month.



The screen on my old nano was so dinky that cover art wasn't of any real importance to me but with the larger screen and better resolution on Fletcher I knew I'd have to work on getting cover art for all the songs I have that are ripped from CDs. Lots I could get from iTunes but for more obscure things that weren't available I found the cover art from other sources and imported them to my iTunes. I can see having the correct cover art becoming an obsession with me.

So now that Fletcher the iPod has been tattooed (my husband had something engraved on Fletcher's back), received, loaded, cozied and now introduced to you, it's time for his most important function.

Time to shuffle.
  1. Long Cool Woman - The Hollies
  2. Since You Broke My Heart - The Everly Brothers
  3. Miniature Sun - XTC
  4. Houses Of The Holy - Led Zeppelin
  5. How Did We Get From Saying I Love You... - Great Big Sea
  6. Waiting Just For You - Blackmore's Night
  7. Let's Be Friends (Skin To Skin) - Bruce Springsteen
  8. Just A Memory - The Mavericks
  9. Beautiful Dream - Adam Ant
  10. Twist And Shout - The Beatles
He's new at the job but Fletcher already has the skill to shuffle up some of my all-time favorite musicians. I think he and I are going to get along beautifully for a long time to come.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ugly Building, Beautiful Sentiment

So what's on your agenda for the weekend? I've got to finish knitting a sock, do a bit of housework, bake a cake for my birthday on Monday and I'll be participating in a march against fascists. A convenient one too as the march will literally pass by my flat.

The view from my balcony isn't the best, mostly because across the street there's a truly hideous abandoned building. It was a once an office building for the city's school system but now it serves its function as being an eyesore. This building is the finest in East German boring, we're-interested-in-function-only design but right now I think it looks terrific.


In the windows are photographs of ordinary citizens of the city and the sign above them says Magdeburg zeigt Gesicht gegen Nazis! (Magdeburg shows its face against Nazis!). Below the photographs are the corporate sponsors of this project. Often times words like "Neo-Nazi" or "right wing extremists" are used to describe fascists but in this case there's no mincing of words. They mean Nazis and they're going to call them by their rightful name.

It's not a secret that the former East Germany has become a gathering point for fascists. High unemployment and disaffected young people make for easy pickings for those pushing their extremist agendas and while they're a minority, they still shout pretty loudly. They like to use the of the January 16th, 1945 anniversary bombing of Magdeburg, not as a way to remember those lost that night or speak of the horrors of war but to march and spread their message of intolerance and blame the ills of the world on those who aren't like them.

This year the city has planned for January 17th a day for all those who are tired of these shrill extremist voices. To protest their message of hate and and intolerance. There will be a pro-democracy march through the city in which all will be encouraged to participate. Afterward there will be all sorts of events - musical performances, skits, speeches, even vendors. The message is that Magdeburg is our city and we're not going to be frightened indoors by those who want to take us back in time seventy years. It's a bit of a mix between a civil protest and a carnival but the idea is to make supporting democracy and freedom a happy event.

This won't the first anti-Nazi protest in which I've participated. I've been to other counter demonstrations and shouted Nazis raus! (Nazis get out!) until I could no longer speak. I was glad for my participation but this time I feel more positive about taking part. This time there's the feeling that the city and its citizens and businesses are joining together for a common cause and banding together to stop hate.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rumpled Dots

Events are all scattered so the reporting of them will be all dotty.
  • Happy day. Package delivery lady was by here this morning. I think she's sweet on me because she brought me two books (The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb and When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson) and a small package from Apple. My new iPod has arrived. Introduction to him and his christening will be done on Friday.

  • Goodness knows I love sock knitting but dang do I need a break from it. I'm not sick of sock knitting as much as I'm sick of knitting socks under a time pressure. I don't like having to knit something because I've said I'll do it by a certain date. And if I want to knit a scarf or blanket instead I can't do it because I have a stupid sock knit-along with penalties attached that makes me knuckle under.

  • I just complained about sock knitting as though it were something of some real significance. Can you feature how I'd bitch if I had a real job with actual deadlines?

  • I often think that if I lived on one of those remote islands in the North Sea or along the coast of England that I'd be fine with it. One of those places where you're a couple miles from some little town that's not as big as a spot in the road. One of those places where it's stormy fairly often and you don't see folks for maybe a couple weeks at a stretch. If I had DVDs and yarn and my laptop I believe I'd be okay not seeing anyone for a while. I feel a little anti-social saying that but honestly I think I could be one of those crazy-ass lighthouse keepers.

  • Shit. I just remembered that I've got stuff in the washer than needs to be hung up. Should be nice and wrinkly by now.

  • I just added ironing to my to-do list for tomorrow. Later, taters!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's Done

My new birthday iPod has been ordered - B has just now finished the order. Up until then I've changed my mind so many times I've about stripped my gears.

The input from y'all has been most helpful and I considered it all - Dictator Princess, yours came in just in time for me to read and consider. And Katya, just for you I have mulled over getting an iTouch. I may as well give them all an equal shot for being my new music buddy.

I reckon I'll have my new iPod by the end of the week so I'll wait until it's here and ready to shuffle before the grand unveiling of which one I chose and what his new name will be. Picking what I wanted to have has been an exercise in careful decision making. I'm fairly certain I put less thought in choosing my first husband.


Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday Shuffle - Retirement's Coming Edition

My birthday is coming up in a couple weeks and for my present B is going to give me a new iPod. Bixente the iPod, while being a faithful servant, is getting a bit of age on him. He's three years old and as he's an iPod nano it means that his capacity is limited. I've always had more music than he can hold but I'm starting to get a little tired of having to reload him so often. As much as I love Bixente, it's time for him to retire.

This has lead to B and I discussing ad nauseam which iPod I'll get. Initially a 16 gig nano seemed a good choice but then I took a look at the new 120 gig classic and I became torn. For just a bit more money I'd get a shitload more capacity but do I want something bigger and heavier to carry? And the cute factor - a red nano's cute factor cannot be underestimated. I have a pink cell phone that I bought because it's so damn cute.

It's finally come down to resorting to a pro and con list. Cuteness, capacity, price, ease of use, features, likelihood of using features, what I'll be using the iPod for, and so on have been written down and I've poured over the list. I haven't stared at a paper this closely since I studied for an 8:00 geology exam and I started at 7:15.

I think I've made my decision but I'll let you know my final decision when the new ones arrives. I have until Sunday to change my mind so if any of y'all want to give me something to consider (no, Katya - I'm not getting an iTouch to guinea pig for you!), pipe up and let me know what it is. After that B will be ordering the iPod of my choice and it'll be too late.

And then comes the sad part. When my new iPod arrives, Bixente the iPod will be put out to pasture. I get pretty attached to things like my iPod - at least enough to name things after short French soccer players - so getting a new one is a bit emotional for me. And I'll have to think of a new name with which to christen the new iPod but I have to admit now that it's going to be hard to top a name as good as Bixente.

Your time's running out, Bixente. Better get to shuffling.
  1. Louisiana Saturday Night - The Benjy Davis Project
  2. While You Wait - Mark McAdam
  3. You Don't Love Me - The Kooks
  4. Lola - Travis
  5. The Great Escape - The Rifles
  6. Pedestal - Bombay Bicycle Club
  7. Keeping Mistakes - Look See Proof
  8. Two Silver Trees - Calexico
  9. All That Heaven Will Allow - The Mavericks
  10. I'll Follow The Sun - The Beatles


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Bundle Up

The new year is seven days old and already we're in the throes of malaise. I'd like to go shopping - we're looking for a new TV and maybe a new laptop for me - but it's too cold to go out. Being too cold to go out is the new, all-purpose excuse for everything. Shopping? Too cold to go out. Go visit friends? Too cold to go out. Go for a walk and burn off the shitload of fried fish and bratwurst I consumed during the five weeks the Christmas market was open? Too cold to go out. Plus I need this extra layer of fish and bratwurst fat to insulate me from the cold. I'd like to use the too-cold-to-go-out excuse for things such as why the oven is scrudgy inside and why my laundry is a bit backed up but no one's buying it.

But it is terribly cold out. Overnight it gets to be -20°C which is enough to make all the news programs foam at the mouth about how Arschkalt it is outside and makes my Ukrainian neighbors laugh their asses off at our pansy-ness.

I limit myself to venturing outdoors once a day - twice if I forget to take the trash out with me the first time. I go start the car to make sure the battery doesn't freeze up. I'm not sure if this actually helps but it makes me feel useful and important. While I run the car I sit in it shivering and wishing I had a cigarette to pass the time but that would be bad and very wrong of me so I simply sit and feel my booty growing numb despite any layers of fish and bratwurst insulation. After my Toyota's engine has been invigorated I pick my way over to the bakery for the day's bread. My insane fear of slipping on the ice and dislocating my elbows - which isn't all that insane since I once watched a former workmate slip on ice and dislocate her elbow - has me walking as though I'm 110 years old and am holding an orange between my knees.

Once home I burrow in like a hedgehog and entertain myself by wiping down the condensation on the windows a dozen times a day, making various cold-day-cuisine dishes (chili! beef stew! goulash!), and watching the thermometer fall. Watching it sink by 1.7 degrees in 20 minutes as we ate supper was a high point. Conversation in my home now features topics such as speculating about how frozen the Elbe river is (I live about four blocks from the Elbe - I could just walk over and see for myself but it's too cold to go out) and congratulating myself on how my sufficiently stocking up on groceries has enabled me not to have to go out in the cold.

And it's only early January. Heaven help us.


Monday, January 05, 2009

All In Eight Weeks

I'm not fond of reading in German. I can but when I'm reading for pleasure I want it to actually be a pleasure and not an exercise in figuring out what that particular turn of phrase means. That's the worst part of learning a foreign language to me - learning all the idioms.

But after reading A Woman in Berlin in English I wanted to read it in original language so I bummed the book from B's physiotherapist and read it. I was so absorbed with the book in English that I felt the need to read it as the author originally wrote it. The English translation is, to me, very good but somehow reading it in German gave me a bit more immediacy.

The author of A Woman in Berlin is anonymous except to just a couple people responsible for the publishing of her diary. This diary, starting just as the Russian troops move into Berlin at the end of World War II ends just two months later and yet it feels as if much more time has passed. In the diary, written to clear her mind of the daily events that would threaten to drive anyone mad, she writes of hiding from the allied bombs, rape - sometimes gang rape - at the hands of Russian soldiers, lack of food, water, electricity, money and the uncertainty of her future.

It would be easy to, especially after the debacles of A Million Little Pieces and more recently the revelation that the Holocaust love story of the Rosenblats was made up, to suspect that this diary may be contrived. One may believe that it's too well written to be dashed off with pencil stubs by candlelight in notebooks she found in her borrowed apartment until one reads that the author was a professional journalist. Another compelling reason to believe in the authenticity of the diary is that it reads like an actual diary - one written as the events are happening. There is little reflection and no real chance to put events into perspective because she has not had the opportunity to sit and put things into perspective. She writes of rape but doesn't dwell on the horror of it, though surely that was to come later. She talks of her hunger but spends more time working on ways to get food than lamenting about her lack of it. Survival for another day is paramount in that time and place and the future doesn't extend to much more than the next week.

It was first published in the 1950s and not in German until a few years later and then was not well received. Germany wasn't ready to yet talk about what happened during the war - their guilt and shame. Hundreds of thousands of rapes took place and speaking the truth of what happened wasn't done for decades - the shame and horror was too great. This diary speaks the truth of what the author experienced before there was as much shame attached to the events.

What the diary also does is allows us to now look at events of the war that have been pushed aside and even forgotten. That those on the good side weren't always good and those on the bad side weren't always bad and that atrocities occurred on both sides. Perhaps we can now speak about them instead of ignoring and forgetting that they occurred.

I've had the opportunity since living in Germany to speak to some men but mostly to women who lived through those times. I had a neighbor who was forced from her home in what was then Germany but what now is Poland to refugee west. On that march west she and her sister and her mother were subjected to rape and beatings from Russian troops on a daily basis - her sister and her mother died from it. Another neighbor of mine, now in her 90s, has spoken to me of how Magdeburg was after it was bombed and how they were happy to find dandelions to eat.

They're not pleasant stories. They're interesting but certainly not entertaining. And in this world were there are conflicts in the middle east and Africa and central Asia we can imagine some of those people are enduring some of the same hardships that the author of A Woman in Berlin endured. But if there's one inspirational thought to keep it's that the author did endure - she lived she was in her 90s. Somehow people can be subjected to the worst there is to offer and still survive.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Friday Shuffle - Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is? Edition

I'm at that funny point of the year where I'm consistently confused about time. It gets dark so early so I always think it's later than it is. Add into that mix the fact that three of my radio controlled clocks are getting bad signals and never read the right time. In my kitchen the clock is three hours slow, in my living room it's two hours and twelve minutes slow and the clock on my stereo is five hours and one minute too fast. I'm not yet used to what year we're in and the lingering Christmas ornaments keep making me think it's late December. And three straight weeks with holidays tucked in here and there doesn't help. For three days now I've thought it was Friday and now that I'm straight again we'll have a holiday on Tuesday and I'll be bollocksed up again for days.

What's a peach to do but stay in, stay warm, knit and read? Oh. And shuffle.

Hit it Bixente.
  1. Prince Charming - Adam Ant
  2. You Find A Way - Graham Colton
  3. Middle Of Nowhere - Hot Hot Heat
  4. Happy Together - The Turtles
  5. Cynical Girl - Marshall Crenshaw
  6. What Light - Wilco
  7. Challengers - The New Pornographers
  8. Liebeslied - Madsen
  9. Little Latin Lupe Lu - Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels
  10. Ragged Wood - Fleet Foxes