Sunday, October 22, 2006

A glorious evening

I have just had a truly wonderful evening with my husband.

First we went to the vernissage of a designer aquaintance, meeting up with SuperCool Matti and wife and then enjoying the bubbly and haute couture.

Then we came home, grabbed a glass of wine and started reading our respective books.

That was three hours ago. I just finished mine.

It was, admittedly, one of those frustrating crime stories that don´t give you the clues, even extraordinarily well hidden, to work it out on your own. That annoys me. I can write a mystery without giving away any clues. What a surprise the ending will be then! In fact, I believe I can write a book starting with a murder, detouring into the intracies of sheep breeding, then coming out at the end with the grand solution and no-one will have seen it coming. That would put me amongst the crime writing greats, wouldn´t it?

DrH is still eight pages from the end of his.

So that was it. Our wonderful evening. It consisted of not much more than silently, but aggressively, reading at each other. With some wine refills.

What more do you need?

During my uni years I used to spend vast amounts of time at the Divine Smem´s house doing little more than reading. In fact, there was one day when she opened the door for me while reading her book, went and sat back down on the couch and continued. I can´t remember what the book was, but it was obviously enthralling. I sat down, pulled out my book and started reading. After about thirty minutes she looked up and said "J!"(this was pre-doc times)"When did you get here! Would you like a cuppa?"

Ahh, the good old days.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More Meme´s (sorry)

Guess who did it again?

My earliest memory is… standing at the windows in Melbourne airport watching the plane taking my grandparents to China take off. Nothing has ever again been as large as those windows were. I looked up and they went on forever.

At high school I
… tended to wear the winter uniform kilt most of the summer as well.

My first relationship was… short and innocent. (which reminds me, congrats on getting married Brett!).

I wish I’d never worn
… that duck t-shirt. I loved it, but I wish I hadn´t.

My mother told me… in very precise instructions how to prepare yeast for Hot Cross Buns, although I was a biochemist growing 10 litres of yeast culture a day.

I wish I had... a superpower.

My most humiliating moment was... when my slightly older cousins smeared lipstick all over my 10 year old face, telling me it was eyeshadow and rouge and that I looked gorgeous.

At home I cook…and DrH does the dishes. I don´t do dishes. Or vacuum. Or iron.

My last meal would be…
, well, I´m hoping for something quite soft and digestible as that would indicate I´ve made it a fair way along in years.

I’m very bad at…
finishing one project before starting another.

When I was a child… I wore my hair in Princess Lea inspired looped plaits.

The book that changed my life is… I´d have to say Communion by Whitley Striber because that introduced me to the poetry of W.H. Auden, which introduced me to modern poetry.

It’s not fashionable, but I love… embroidery.

Friends say I am… a pretty happy type of person.

The song I’d like played at my funeral is…
Throw Your Arms Around Me. You can take the Aussie out of Oz but not the Oz out of the Aussie.

If only I could…
move Germany next to Australia.

The last big belly laugh I had was… watching the dog walk head first into a pole. Well, it WAS funny.

What I don’t find amusing is… the US government.

I’m always being asked… is vary pronounced var-EE or var-I?

If I wasn’t me… I guess some other sucker would be stuck with this nose.

At the moment I’m listening to…
the truck delivering heating oil to next door.

My favourite work of art is… the one hanging over my couch.

If I were a car I’d be… a Messerschmidt (one wheel short....).

I often wonder…
what happened to half of my friends from Uni.

TAG:. KilowattHour, Susan

Sunday, October 15, 2006

What do YOU do at work?

Has anyone else noticed that on weekends the number of new blogposts, comments and hits seem to go down across the blogosphere?

Does that mean that it mostly happens from work?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Romance isn´t dead, but it may be flayed a little

"Hello my naked beauty."

"I´m not naked. I´ve got underwear on. And a dressing gown."


"But under that I´m naked."

"That´s like saying that under your skin you´re all bloody."



"Well, you know how to kill a mood."

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sparkling whites

The other night I was watching Bring it On (or in german Girls United! because one should never over stress the second language abilities of a country where they´ll correct you on the use of Can I or May I). Aside from the flipping cartwheel watch my cute spandexed arse spin in air as I grin like maniacal crack-addict ´cause I´m doomed to be a small-town hairdresser when I grow up characters, only two thing really impressed themselves on my switched-off brain.

The first was that Kirsten Dunst is so damn cute I wish she´d suffer a really bad nose job which completely destroys her acting career, just so that I don´t have to be faced with the reality that cute is a phrase which has never, ever been applied to me by someone with a blood alchohol level below that capable of knocking out a medium-sized African Elephant.

The second is that I must be the World´s Number One Incompetent Tooth-Brusher.

There was that cutesy little Kirsten and her bad boy love interest having A Moment while brushing their teeth. Not a piece of spittle appeared at the corner of their mouth. No white foam remained attached to their chin after spitting. And their perfectly choreographed spitting into the basin hit dead center everytime. It must have made all tobacco chewers proud. Not a single mouthfull accidentally connected with the tap, to then run down the length of it leaving a trail of saliva and toothpaste behind like a hemorrhaging snail.

DrH is a tooth-brusher of similar finesse, able to wander around the house for the prescribed 4 minutes with toothbrush firmly probing the recesses around every tooth. No evidence of spittle will appear. He needn´t stay bent over the basin ready for an emergency spit, because that never happens to him.

He´s a man in control of his toothbrush.

I, meanwhile, am not. I hate to have a mouth full of foamy toothpaste. I´ve tried to keep it all in until I´m done, but it results in such a gag reflex that I´m in danger of having to brush my teeth again to remove the vomit taste. So I remain chained to the basin where I brush with the continual half spitting, half dribbling technique perfected by 1 year old´s the world over. It´s an unattractive sight: the hunched back, the foamy mouth, the dribbled on chin.

I must now deal with the idea that not only will I never have Kirsten Dunst´s petite nose or perky spandexed butt, but she beats me on tooth-brushing technique as well. Can I never win?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

When all you can say is Oh. My. God.

Knitting gone very, very, very wrong.

Home, James! And Don´t Spare The Horses!

I´ve finally booked a ticket home. I managed to get a seat on Austrian Airlines which is amazing, really, as they normally book out 6 months ahead. But I got a seat and I´m flying out on....... November 22 already!

And guess when I´m coming back? Go on, you never will...

March 10.

To borrow Susan´s phrase:


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Yes, I do still think about science

I may not blog about science or currently be employed in science (except for occasional stints when DrH´s company outsources stuff to me), but I´m still a trained scientist, married to another and we have Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, Nature Methods and Drug Discovery World next to the couch for a bit of light reading.

And I do read some science blogs and comment on them.

The plight of YoungFemaleScientist, her bitterness and sadness about academia, strike a real chord with me as I was exactly there a year and a half ago. Her words could be, verbatim, my own (although probably with better grammer- she´s already told me off for my free form use of English).

Several commenters (myself included) have encouraged her and her readers to think about the alternative career paths offered by industry.

She rejects that instinctively. I must admit I find her reasoning for it not particularly well thought through.

That´s why I posted about the Smaglik Square. Although I doubt if she ever comes here to read it, and I doubt if anyone has linked to it to spread the idea far and wide, maybe it helps one person to think more about their career.

A YFS commenter, yes, I stumbled across recently has written an extremely good post on industry vs academia. Now if only more academics would read it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bar None

In the old flat I had a bar I´d built to take up a fairly awkward and useless corner. It was great. Shiny black surfaces with bamboo front. It was the home of huge amounts of alchohol which DrH and I never drank, being more partial to sharing a shandy of an evening than hopping into the G&T.

The new flat had no useless corner into which this large construction could fit and we´d decided that we would have to do without until SuperCool Matti also moved and an old piece of furniture needed a new home. It was a cabinet from the 1930´s he´d inherited from the previous renters, who had it from the previous, who...well you get the picture. Dodgy, grungy, it needed a damn good scrub and a loving hand to shine again.

So I scrubbed. And scrubbed. And repainted the inside. And installed lights. And glass hangers. And now it looks like this:

Even my beautiful fruitbowl finally has a home.

And they told me I should dump it.

Onions and Epiphanies

Last night we had an Alsatian dinner party...meaning, of course, one with specialties of the region around Strasbourg, not one with large furry guests. That meant serving Federweiss, pretty much alchoholic grape juice which is still fermenting so rapidly that it is bottled uncorked with only the foil wrapping over the top. Otherwise the whole thing would explode.

I love it.

Traditionally this is served with Flammkuchen and Zwiebelkuchen, both absolutely delicious but requiring insane amounts of onions. I managed to solve the first problem presented by this by wearing swimming goggles in the kitchen while cutting them up. It may sound stupid, it certainly looked it, but it gets the DrJ Official Double Thumbs Up for Good Thinking, Mate.

Unfortunately the second problem could only be solved by opening the bedroom windows wide.

That was also compounded by the after-dinner cheese platter, following the crepe Suzette, with plenty of delicious but stinky french cheeses.

During all this indulgence I had an epiphany.

We´ve got, like most people I guess, the good china, the good glasses, the good cutlery. So far we pull them out only very rarely (especially as the 2-year long distance relationship put a bit of a damper on our hosting abilities). So the guests get the shiny knives, the sparkling wine glasses, the funky china. (Pretty china is not my style. Go the funk. We even have a set of black china, designed by Hundertwasser and it is SE-XY. That was my mother-in-law being extremely insightful.)

We, meanwhile, eat off, with and out of IKEA.

Well, bugger that.

Today I emptied the kitchen drawers of the rusting IKEA cutlery and in went the WMF. The ugly champagne glasses have been shoved to the depths of the bar for parties requiring extras, and the beautiful ones are out. Hundertwasser is on display and ready to be used.

Why have I not surrounded myself with the best we have before? Why were occasional guests considered better than I? Why have I not indulged in my own mealtimes?

Nope, from now on, every meal will be a masterpiece.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Alien attack

We´ve been inundated here with foreigners. First, a good friend of mine finished her PhD and so both brothers and partners were here for the defence and celebration. As she hasn´t a blog-name yet I´m hereby dubbing her the Mighty Flea. The Mighty Flea slipped a disc 2 weeks before here defence, spent the time in hospital and defended while high on morphine and muscle relaxants. She enjoyed the entire event greatly. So her family stayed with us while she prepared and then packed as she flies back to Oz today.

With a one-way ticket.

I can´t even imagine a one-way ticket anymore.

Hot on the heels of the four family members came Little Bec - eight years my junior and my family´s next door neighbour for most of her life. The last time I looked she was fifteen. She also seemed extremely surprised...I believe the exact quote was "Hey, you´re just like a normal person now!" Apparently ninteen year old Uni students tend to talk of things which eleven year olds don´t find the slightest bit interesting. Or maybe I was just a tosser who tried to show off.

Yes, probably the latter.

I did promise her that I wouldn´t blog about her complete inability to ride a bicylce - despite her initial claims to the contrary - so I won´t.

But watching her stop at traffic lights made me feel like grace itself. And I thank her deeply for this.

Finally, the Mighty Flea herself is now here. Her flat is gone, her belongings sold or shipped, her bag packed and she leaves tonight.

There goes the only close friend I have left here. That´s the hardest thing with the mixture of a scientific life and ex-pats. Friendships are difficult to keep and often short-lived. But the Mighty Flea has been a part of Berlin for 6 years and now she´s leaving me behind.

I think I´ll go and have a little cry.