Saturday, February 25, 2006

The unexpected cost of being a Stay At Home ummmm Person

Toilet Paper.

Yep. Since I´ve been here all day everyday, the biggest increase in our weekly costs has become toilet paper. Every time I wander down to make myself a cup of tea, I stop off in the bathroom on the way. Everytime my body says You know, maybe in the next few hours you might need to go to the loo, I go immediately. ´Cause let´s face it, it´s not like I have huge demands on my time and so many other things distracting me.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Because you guys mean so much to me, I´m going to share everything

Tuesday night I took Leon Dog Wonder to the vet for his yearly Rabies booster and to check for worms as he has spent a lot of time in the last two weeks with his tongue up his arse. You think that sounds bad? You didn´t have to watch it in front of TV every night.

Leon Dog Wonder thinks the vets is just The Best Place On Earth because every time we go there he gets so filled with treats that he can´t eat all his dinner afterwards. This says a lot from a dog who managed to get through half of a 50kg bag of dog food in one afternoon and lay there for the rest of the night with a distended stomach and pitiful sounds coming from both ends. The vets is also just around the corner from here and we pass it often on walks, which means I spend at least ten minutes of those walks trying to pry his nose from the doorjam, much to the amusement of those in the waiting room watching me with their terrified dogs sitting on their laps or trying to eat the neighbouring cat.

So Tuesday I sat there and described his symptoms: tongue, bum and won´t leave the damn thing alone were used often. Meanwhile Leon Dog Wonder was dogging the heels of the Vet Assistant With The Magic Food Pocket and trying every trick he knows to get that food out of it. Ever seen a dog try and lie down, shake paws and roll over all at the same time? Even the vet herself couldn´t believe how eagerly he got on the examining table and stood there, eyes focussed unblinkingly on That Pocket. He managed to completely ignore the injection as a hand full of treats was right in front of his nose. But when it got to a quick look at his rear end he started getting twitchy.

So guess what it was? Not worms as I thought, but blocked anal glands. Aren´t you glad I shared this with you? The first I ever heard of this was last year when Dooce´s dog Chuck had the same problem, and at that point I thought Just what do those American´s DO to their dog? It is therefore with slight shame I must admit that I was wrong and this dilemma is ignorant of borders and races.

Leon Dog Wonder had to stand their as the woman SQUEEZED HIS ANAL GLANDS. The relief on his face afterwards was evident, as was the excitement at just how much stink he can produce. And you know, much as I love my dog there is NO WAY I am ever going to do that. Should his anal glands get blocked again that joy is reserved ENTIRELY for the vet.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Introducing the New Winter Olympics

Did anyone else feel that the Ice Dancing competition last night was a little dull? Of course, Bravo to the Russians for taking home another skating gold and all, but where was the passion? Where was the Torvill and Dean crowd roaring, floor thumping emotion? The routine that would cause a stampede if it was it´s football equivalent? In the first round we had that wonderful moment of falling Italians, complete with THE LOOK.



Man was he just SO GOING TO GET IT. Trust the Italians to bring in the emotional moment which brings tears to the eyes, if only in wincing sympathy.

So last night, by the time the French came out with their Venice Carnival theme, complete with quilted jackets and ruffles, not even the gloves painted as masks could revive the lifeless competition. I found myself praying they´d fall, slip or lose their underwear. Unfortunately it wasn´t to be and instead I yawned my way to bed.

Which is why, lying there at 1.30am, knowing full well I had to be up in five hours my overactive imagination and overinflated ego was planning my Olympic Ice Dancing debut. One to startle the judges and dazzle the audience. One to break the norms of Ice Dancing. One that wouldn´t include ruffles.

My partner and I would enter the ice, calf length black leather cloaks and sunglasses on. Clubbed to Death – the kuriyama mix would start and we´d begin a slow routine dancing around and with each other, incorporating the occasional martial arts move. As the music steps up in pace and the heavy bass takes over we glide into Caipoiera moves. We begin spinning, his blades flicking over my head as I swing my own under his feet. In our Ice Dance of Death our feet are weapons, the speed increasing until we are a blur of flying leather and singing steel.

As the music builds up to it´s peak we´ve seperated, staring across the distance of the ice rink at each other. A few low, preparative Caipoiera ground steps set the scene and we start towards each other, speed increasing, expression serious. At full speed near the center of the rink we launch, flying through the air to grab each other around the shoulders. Our momentum causes us to spin, legs flying out behind us. As gravity takes hold we crash to the ground, equally defeated. The fight is over.

Now THAT is what Ice Dancing needs.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Happy Second Wedding Anniversary

Two years ago at this time, DrH and I were sitting in a taxi going to a hotel he had booked for our wedding night. One of the few small chores I´d left it up to him to take care of in our How To Organise a Wedding in Three Weeks affair. I´d only found the outfit I wanted to wear a week before, DrH went looking for his suit three days before, I had a fitting two days before and picked up the outfit, found shoes, makeup, jewellry and matching underwear the night before. The restuarant organised the table arrangments following my precise and detailed instructions:

"Oh, I dunno. Perhaps some kind of red flower thing?";

the hairdresser that morning worked hard to create the perfect image:

"Look, I´m getting married in two hours, can you just put it up somehow? Yeah, that´ll do."

and my Maid of Honour´s name was Michael and he wore a bow tie.

The whole day was wonderful, fun and relaxing. What a great way to get married. Even the weather played nicely and gave us bright blue skies.



Of course it was ZERO DEGREES and I was wearing a SLEEVLESS, STRAPLESS CORSET. This photo was taken in about thirty-five seconds of shivering.

DrH outdid himself, booking us in to the Adlon Hotel, possibly the most famous hotel in Berlin for many, many reasons of great and historical importance but most notoriously because Michael Jackson dangled his kids over the balcony from there. We were not blessed with a balconied room, however it had a big bed, a big bath and a BIG, EXPENSIVE BOTTLE OF CHAMPAGNE. The following day the taxi driver dropped us home, which just so happens to be across the road from a Youth Hostel. He took one look at us and said:

"You spent all your money last night, didn´t you."

Our first annivesary we spent on the North Sea coast, possibly one of the most stupid places to be in February in Germany. Witness:



At least I was more appropriately dressed.

The last two years have been fun, if not at least A LITTLE STRESSFULL as we haven´t actually lived in the same city for any of it. As a highschool acquaintance at my reunion put it:

"DrH is lovely. He´ll make a great first husband."

Yeah, he´s been pretty good. If he keeps it up I might put off the second husband for a while longer.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

for crying out loud

OK, guys. Meme´s are one thing and if, heaven forbid, I am ever tagged I´m sure I´ll fill it out and tag someone else ´cause that´s one way for me to feel loved.

But can you quit it with the fucking Johari squares?

Friday, February 17, 2006

The one where I swear too much

This morning I went to the beautician around the corner for a bit of unwanted hair removal. Nothing big and fancy, just a few stray annoying ones marring my perfect beauty.

For those Germans in the audience, that was irony.

So I decided to remove them in a permanent manner with needle epilation. In case you are unaware of this particular technique it requires putting a thin needle into the hair follicle and sending a brief bzzzzt of electricity down it to kill the hair follicle. Sounds simple, sounds quick and I knew a girl in highschool who had her entire lip done that way.

OH MY GOD ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

Now I am no stranger to pain. I suffer headaches and migraines with amazing regularity, my back is so painful and tight you could play squash off it and let´s not even start with period pain. Okay, only briefly, just to say that it is of the magnitude that would bring down entire armies. Empaths have reported shockwaves from it as far as Botswana and I can count at least half a dozen times when I have fainted from it and a dozen more where I´ve been left a screaming, blubbering mess. Oh, and how about my knees – those genetically mutated knee caps which have destroyed all cartilage and grown spurs so that sitting down on a chair has become an event the whole family can listen to. So this should have been no problem.

OH MY GOD ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

After about 10 minutes of this treatment I was crying, tears streaming down my face like they haven´t since watching Dead Poets Society at the age of fifteen. When it was finally over it took another 5 minutes before I could stop, and walking home I was still sobbing softly. I´m sure our garbage man thinks my dog´s just died. Yet it doesn´t seem to be over as my own personal torturer-Marquis-de-Sade-beautician has assured me that once won´t be enough and I´ll have to go back, probably several times.

OH MY GOD ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Is this a reference I don´t know, or a large cause for concern?

Somebody found this blog yesterday while searching on Google for "problems burning corpse bride".

I´m scared. Hold me.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A man and his dog bonding

Schadenfreude ist die beste Freude

scha·den·freu·de ( P ) Pronunciation Key (sh├Ądn-froid) n.

Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

[German : Schaden, damage (from Middle High German schade, from Old High German scado) + Freude, joy (from Middle High German vreude, from Old High German frewida, from fr, happy).]

Another word which I think English suffers from lack thereof.

Picture this: Winter Olympics. Ladies moguls.

Kari Traa of Norway finished a great run: style, technique, a few fancy flips. The judges baby. She whips off her ski´s in time to get the advertising on the bottom of each into frame before the scores are announced. 25.65! Top of the heap! 1st Place. Exhuberant she runs to the place-getters bench, hugs, smiles and laughs at all already sitting there and shuffles the currently third place-getter off on to the ground as she takes her rightful place in first.

Aiko Uemura of Japan makes her run. Again a fantastic run that the judges award with a 24.01. Traa jumps up and down, hugs her and pats her into second place, confident in the gold position.

Sara Kjellin of Sweden make a great run, awarded 24.74 and second place. A jubilant Traa greets her on the place-getters bench. Hey we´re all Scandinavian here, it´s a win for all of us, right?

Sandra Laoura of France heads down the slope. Good technique, nice freestyle. With a 25.37 she was close to gold, but no banana. Once again Traa jumps up and down in excitement, beaming from ear to ear. She hugs all and grins at Uemura who has now been pushed down to fourth and must give up her spot on the bench. Uemura returns a brief, watery smile before trudging off.

Final contestant, the Canadian Jennifer Heil is down the slope with a wonderful run, knees bouncing, perfect heli. For a brief moment the judges concur. 26.50! Gold for Canada! At the place-getters bench there are hugs all round.

But wait, what´s this? Our bubbly Norwegian isn´t smiling! How can this be? She was so GENUINELY happy for the great runs of all the other contestants! Could it have been.....no....maybe...was she perhaps just....possibly...taking part in...a little bit of Schadenfreude?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Stress Reduction Lesson One

“You know, patting animals is meant to reduce stress. Lower blood pressure or heart rate or something.”

“What, any kind of animal? Like, I don´t think patting a spider´ll reduce stress.”

“Well I guess just furred animals. Dogs, cats… guinea pigs…the usual things I guess.”

“Some spiders a pretty furry.”

“Yeah but you don´t pat them normally.”

“Scratch them behind the ears.”

“Have ´em roll over and scratch their belly so they kick their legs in the air.”

“….”

“Can I get a spider?”

“Umm… No.”

Friday, February 10, 2006

This one is for the girls. Guys if you keep reading it then don´t blame me when you´re grossed out.

About a year ago a friend introduced me to the Soft Cup, a disposable plastic diaphragm-like thing to use instead of tampons. She adores it ´cause she´s the sporty type and this is a no worries, no leaks, no problems solution. You can even have sex with it in, although I think her impressed yell of “I can´t feel ANYTHING!” may not have improved the moral of her boyfriend too much. All well and good, sounds great, I´m ready to try anything which would improve my general standard of living.

Hah, sniggered the world at me, giving me a solid middle finger. These are one size fits most and guess whose not gonna be in that group.

Yesterday, while cruising through Globetrotter admiring the trekking clothes, hiking boots and other adventure gear that I´m unlikely ever to have a real use for, I spotted the Diva Cup hanging between a foldable razor and solid shampoo. This one even had TWO sizes to choose from. Hey, maybe this is the next new thing to solve all my problems I thought, whipping it off the rack and hiding it demurely under a couple of travel guides on my way to the cash register.

I got home and started reading the instructions. Reuseable blah blah, keep clean blah blah blah, store in bag blah blah blah, holds one ounce. Alright, stop. What´s an ounce? We´re in METRIC here. You know, the LOGICAL way to measure. Throwing down the instructions, I pulled the cup out of it´s box and started inspecting.

Guess what I found? On the sides are liquid measurements. Ounces on one, metric on the other side. Ok, so I´m slightly appeased. BUT.

WHO ON EARTH NEEDS TO KNOW THAT INFORMATION?

And you know the worst thing? I just bet I´ll be checking that out from now on and THAT grosses even ME out.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

You know, this is exactly what my life has been missing

White noise.

Actually, that bit´s true. I am indeed looking for white noise samples to see if it can drown out the sound of DrH LISTENING TO SEEED VERY VERY VERY LOUD.

SORRY? DID YOU SAY SOMETHING? I COULDN´T HEAR YOU.

Ok, I´m not really surprised that there is a site selling CD´s of white noise. In fact I expected that, and am happy to see that I can also get my longed for CD of rain on the roof and a distant thunderstorm at the same time.

What surprises me is that these CD´s ACTUALLY EXIST:
Peacful Air Purifier,
Soothing Air Conditioner
and of course, Calming Electric Fan.
I mean, who comes up with this stuff?

But the best is to be found towards the bottom of the page. Here there is Baby´s First White Noise CD alongside Baby´s Blow Dryer CD.

And for those difficult times:
Baby Colic Relief White Noise 3 Pack
or the
Colic Relief Deluxe White Noise 4 Pack.

You know you´re in Europe when this is the decoration in your bakery

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

There are some who call me... Tim?

I´m not one of those people that are fascinated by movies. I can´t tell you much about this director, that style, this arthouse hit, that big screen flop. Just ask Our Man in Tokyo. Go on. He´ll confirm it. Many are the conversations we´ve held that sound like this:

"Big Name Director´s got a new film coming out."

"Really? Ummm is he a director?"

"Yes, DrJ."

"Oh. What movies´ he done?"

"Big Movie 1, Big Movie 2, Small-Arthouse-But-Critically-Acclaimed Movie."

"Oh, okay. I thought about seeing the first one, but didn´t. Didn´t see the second. Haven´t heard of the third."

As you can imagine, for someone as movie-happy as our Man in Tokyo, these are difficult conversations, bordering on painful. He usually winces. He isn´t the only person to suffer from my disinterest in the world of film. Most people look down their nose at my lack of knowledge, as if I´m the most culturally uneducated person around. I´m left standing like a fool as others deconstruct the latest Sundance offering. But I still can´t bring myself to be THAT interested in it all.

So it´s amazing that in DrH I´ve found someone even more Movie-lly Challenged than I am. Consider:

"Hey DrJ, let´s go to the movies this weekend."

"Anything good on? Hang on, there was that film from Whatshisname. The clay-doozy. Like Nightmare Before Christmas. You know. Is that still on?"

"I have no idea"

"Dead something? Corspe! Corpse Girl? Corpse bride! I really wanted to see it. It´s by Thingy. Tim. Tim. Tim Burton?"

"Really? He´s directed a couple of films now hasn´t he?"

"Yep, think so."

"And still acts."

"Huh? I didn´t think he was an actor"

"Yeah. You know. Like in the movie about the jail escape. With the black guy. Dug his way out of prison. Through the wall."

"The Shawshank Redemption? No that was Tim. Umm Tim..."

"It´s the same guy."

"No it´s not. I´m sure it´s not. It was Tim..."

"It´s him. Bet a large Pizza?"

.......

"Robbins! Tim Robbins is the guy from the Shawshank Redemption!"

"Yeah, it´s the same guy."

"NO IT ISN´T. The other guy was Tim...umm Tim..."

"See?"

......

"Burton! The director is Tim Burton! The actor is Tim Robbins! You´re wrong and you owe me a pizza!"

"No I´m sure I´m right."

"Oh for f$%!´s sake let´s Google it."

1am SnowBunny with freakishly short arms

Saturday, February 04, 2006

It´s all about the dough

Years ago, when I first moved to Germany, Mum gave me a book on baking. At first I thought this was a hint at my lack of home-making skills and was fully expecting a follow-up book titled something like Vacuuming for Dummies or The Idiot´s Guide to Basic Nutrition - No, Frozen Pizza is Not a Food Group.

Somehow, it seemed a bit unnessesary to me, a baking book when going to Germany- the land known far and wide as home of the Best Bread Ever Made, in much the same way as France is home to the Best Cheeses Ever Made and Sweden home to the Best Self-Assemble Furniture Ever Made. I leapt feet first into the bread culture of this country, where there´s a bakery on every corner and at least one meal a day consists of basically nothing except bread.

So I was soon to discover that the title Home of the Best Bread Ever Made is more like France´s Home to the Best Insect, Amphibian or Rodent Meals Ever Made award, or Sweden´s Home of the Dried Fish on a Stick fame.

Sour dough is the most common type of bread, which is kind of like eating the kitchen sponge soaked in a jar of old capers, but without any of the nice taste aspects. You can use the average loaf of German bread to hammer in nails and it NEVER GOES MOULDY. That, to me, was a sure sign it can´t be good. If even microbes fear it, it´s something I should never put in my mouth.

Occassionally there are the good loaves. A slightly different dough that doesn´t suck all the moisture out of your mouth. That doesn´t so completely take over the flavour that you could be having a sandwich containing nothing but pickled herring and paint thinner BUT CAN`T TASTE IT. There are an amazing variety of breads, which, if they thought about reducing the general level of sourness, would actually be tasty. Some bakery´s even sell white bread. Shock! Horror! - I once got a fifteen minute lecture from a twenty-five year old woman on the unhealthiness of white bread while she was CHAIN SMOKING IN MY FACE. But the white bread, somehow contrary to the state of normal bread, manages to go stale within 45 minutes of coming out of the oven.

Other baked goods are actually really good. Trays of cakes sit in the windows. Amazing local pastry specialities can be found in different cities. But bread should be banned.

Or they should hire only french bakers.

So Mum´s good old baking book has had quite a workout here. This morning I started the push for Easter with a round of Hot Cross Buns. What? I hear you ask, It´s only February!

Ahh, I will nod sagely, but if you have a Baking Book, there´s no need to wait.

Addendum: DrH strongly objects with this single-sided and misleading depiction of the German Bread Industry and notes that the underlying cultural differences in this relationship will have to be worked on. But of course, he´s German so he wasn´t raised on decent flavours in the first place. Can anyone say POTATO?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

My true calling was Neurosurgery

Today I went and picked up 12 kilos of animal insides for the dog. By animal insides I really mean INSIDES. A few kidneys were thrown in, but mostly it was the entire section from throat to liver, minus lungs. Did you have any idea what the bronchial tube feels like or how difficult it is to cut through the eosophagus? I DO.
My Hamburg meat deliveries were somehow more pleasant. I mean that was mostly cow, and aside from the stomach (which smells exactly like cow shit), the rest was fine. The heart is huge and you can cut it easily up into the good chew sizes which keep Leon Dog Wonder occupied for twenty minutes. But this stuff must have been pig ´cause it was small and full of membrane bits. Have you any idea how many tubes are inside animals? There´s, like, THOUSANDS.

I tell you what, without those years of cutting up rats, snails, cockroaches and starfish (yes, starfish) that my basic biology training brought me, I would have been somewhat at a loss. But I´m still a bit confused at the small, lightly coloured organ at the top of the throat. Thyroid, perhaps? I chopped it up anyway and I´m sure Leon Dog Wonder won´t care too much.

Now I just have to bag the whole mess into mealsized chunks and fit it into our bar fridge freezer. Oh, did I mention that? DrH ordered about three times more than will actually fit in our freezer section, so this is gonna be fun.