Friday, June 29, 2007

Language Week Day 5: Ich bin müde, mir fällt keinen witzigen Titel ein/ I'm tired and I can't think of a snappy title



Language Week geht schnell zu Ende. Heute gibt's nichts besonderes zu berichten. Ich dachte ich gebe euch ein paar interessante Links damit ihr was zu lesen habt.

Zwei Umfragen sind mir diese Woche aufgefallen. Bei der ersten werden englischsprachige Ausländer in Deutschland über Integration und die Benutzung von Medien befragt. Die Fragen find ich sehr interessant.

Die zweite Umfrage heisst Everyday Blogger Online Survey und handelt sich um die Darstellung und den Gewohnheiten von Bloggern und ihren Blogs.

Und letztlich hier ein Link zu einem hilfreichen Artikel mit Überlebensstrategien sollte eine Beziehung im Ausland nicht mehr funktionieren. Ich denke diese Tips sind aber hilfreich für ALLE Expatriates die in einer Beziehung leben, ob die eine Trenning überlegen oder nicht.

So das war's. Ich gehe jetzt ins Bett. Ja, ich werde Strümpfe tragen.



Language Week is quickly coming to and end. Nothing special to report here. I thought I'd give you all a couple of links so you'd have something to read.

I came across two interesting surveys this week. The first one asks English-speaking foreigners in Germany about integration and media usage. I found the questions very interesting.

The second one is called Everyday Blogger Online Survey and deals with blogging activities and "digital domestication", whatever that may be.

And lastly here's a link to a helpful article on survival strategies should the relationship you moved to a foreign country for happen to collapse. But I think this is common sense information that ALL expats in relationships can use whether they are facing a separation or not.

So that's it. I'm going to bed now. Yes, I'll be wearing socks.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Language Week Day 4: Die Kirschen in Nachbars Garten schmecken immer besser*/the grass is always greener on the other side

[*literally: The cherries in the neighbour's garden always taste better.]

Es gibt eine Redewendung auf Deutsch: "Mit dem ist nicht gut Kirschen essen." Es hat nicht wirklich was mit Kirschen zu tun, bedeutet aber, daß man mit diesem Menschen nicht gut auskommt und daß es vielleicht besser wäre, ihn zu meiden.

Der Spruch kommt aus dem Mittelalter und heißt im Original: "Mit hohen Herren ist nicht gut Kirschen essen, sie spucken einem die Steine ins Gesicht." Damals waren Kirschen nicht so verbreitet wie heute und waren eher für die Reichen reserviert die die Armen oft schlecht behandelten.

Unsere Nachbarin ist zwar eine Gräfin, aber sie ist sehr nett und mit ihr ist doch gut Kirschen essen. Zur Zeit besucht sie allerdings ihre Familie in München und wir dürfen Herr über ihrer Kirschbäume sein. Leider sind die Kirschen dieses Jahre nicht ganz so schön wie letztes, aber wir haben trotzdem einige gepfluckt.

Ich probierte ein neues Rezept aus - Salat mit gegrilltem Hünchen und Süßkirschen. Sehr einfach und auch unheimlich lecker.




There's a saying in German: "Mit dem is nicht gut Kirschen essen." Literally it means that you can't or shouldn't eat cherries with this person. Figuratively it's a warning to avoid someone who you probably won't get along with.

The saying comes from the Middle Ages and translated into English goes as follows: "Don't each cherries with nobility, for they will ony spit the pits in your face." Back in those days cherries were reserved for the rich and the poor were warned to stay away for fear of being badly treated.

Our neighbour may be a countess, but she is very nice and we'd be happy to eat cherries with her. Right now, however, she's visiting family in Munich so we have free reign over her cherry trees. Unfortunately the fruit isn't as nice as it was last year, but we did manage to pick some.

I tried a new recipe - Grilled Chicken Salad with Sweet Cherries. Very easy and quite delicious.



There's still so much fruit on the trees and I'm eager to tackle some other recipes so I guess you could say that my life right now really IS just a bowl of cherries! Worms and pits included, of course.




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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Language Week Day 3: halten wir es noch 7 Wochen aus?/another 7 weeks of this?

Tja, der 27. Juni ist Siebenschläfertag in Deutschland. Angeblich soll das heutige Wetter die Zustände für die nächsten sieben Wochen entscheiden. Wenn es heute regnet, wird's einen langen, nassen Sommer.

Well, the 27th of June is Siebenschläfertag in Germany. Today's weather supposedly gives us a taste of how it's going to be for the next seven weeks. If it rains, it's going to be one long, wet summer.

Woher kommt der Begriff "Siebenschläfer"? Es gibt zwar ein kleines nachtaktives Nagetier namens Siebenschläfer, es hat aber nichts mit diesem Tag zu tun.

Where does the term Siebenschläfer come from? There is a small nocturnal rodent called a Siebenschläfer (a dormouse in English) but it has nothing to do with this day.


Bin ich süss, oder was?/Am I cute or what?

Der Name Siebenschläfer stammt eigentlich aus der Legende der Sieben Märtyrer von Ephesus, auch Sieben Schläfer genannt. Mehr Information dazu gibt's hier auf Deutsch.

The name Siebenschläfer actually stems from the legend of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. More information on that here in English



So, das Wetter soll sieben Wochen lang so bleiben? Moment mal, ich muss einen Blick aus dem Fenster werfen. Hmmm, sonnig, aber Wind ohne Ende mit Temperaturen um die 17°C. Konnte schlimmer sein, aber auch viel besser. Ach was soll's. Mann kann es sowieso nicht ändern. Wie sieht's heute aus in eurer Ecke der Welt?

So, the weather is supposed to stay this way for seven weeks? Wait a minute, let me look out the window. Hmm, sunny, but there's an endless wind and the temperature's at about 17°C. Could be worse, could also be better. But what the heck. We can't do a thing about it anyway. What's it like today in your corner of the world?

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Language Week Day 2: deutsche Sprache, lustige Sprache/that funny German language

"Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache", so heißt es, auch unter Deutschen, aber ehrlich, so schwer ist die wirklich nicht, oder? Ich finde die deutsche Sprache eingentlich ganz lustig. Es gibt so viele witzige Wörter über die man schmunzeln kann.

Heute bin ich zu faul/beschäftigt (sucht euch eins aus) um einen richtigen Blogeintrag zu kreieren, daher präsentiere ich euch einige meiner Lieblingswörter auf Deutsch, mit Übersetzung natürlich.

Und jetzt, in keiner besonderen Reihenfolge...



"German language, difficult language" - that's what they all say, even the Germans, but really, it's not that hard ,is it? I think the German language is pretty funny, actually. There are so many amusing words to make one smile.

Today I'm too lazy/busy (take your pick) to write a real blog entry, so I'll present you with a few of my favourite German words with their translation, of course.

And now, in no particular order...

Leckerbissen - delicacy, tidbit, treat

Betthupferl - bedtime sweet

Mitbringsel - small present, hostess gift

Dudelsack - bagpipes

Eichhörnchen - squirrel

nichtsdestotrotz - nevertheless

Schmunzelhase - ("grinning rabbit") someone who can't stop smiling

Sättigungsbeilage - a side dish meant to fill you right up

fernmündlich - over the telephone

blümerant - slightly ill, queasy (from the French bleu mourant)

entrümpeln - to declutter or clear out

Kleinod - treasure, gem

Schlüpfer - panties, knickers, underpants

Dreikäsehoch - ("as tall as three cheeses") small child, half-pint

Spaßvogel - joker, jester

Scherzkeks - ("joking cookie") jokester

Pechvogel - jinx, an unlucky person

nippen - to sip

Stiefmütterchen - ("little stepmother") pansy

Lichtspielhaus - cinema, movie theatre

Jammerlappen - someone who likes to complain a lot

Und zuallerletzt, ein ganz langes deutsches Wort/And finally a very long German word

Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän - Danube steam ship company captain

Lernt diese Wörter und eure Freunde werden staunen!

Learn these words and amaze your friends!

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Language Week Day 1: Bettgeflüster/pillow talk




For my first Language Week entry I'm going to do the 6 weird things I do while getting ready to sleep or while sleeping meme that Canadian Swiss tagged me for.
English translation is below the German.


1. Wie ich schon erwähnte, trage ich gerne Strümpfe im Bett. Nur wenn das Wetter sehr warm ist, so wie diese Woche, lasse ich die weg.

2. Ich brauche immer zwei Kopfkissen, eins groß, eins klein. Meistens liegt das kleine Kopfkissen obendrauf, aber manchmal auch darunter, je nach Tageslaune. Natürlich werden die beiden Kissen auch mehrmals zurecht geschüttelt bevor ich mich hinlege. Das macht meinen Mann wahnsinnig, da er viel früher als ich ins Bett geht.

3. Ich wache jede Nacht zwischen 3.30 und 4 Uhr auf, um auf Toilette zu gehen. Während ich tagsüber ohne Brille total blind bin, finde ich meinen Weg im Dunkeln ganz ohne Sehhilfe.

4. Als Nachteule würde ich am liebsten um 2 Uhr nachts ins Bett gehen und gegen 10 Uhr morgens aufstehen. Leider hat das Leben andere Pläne für mich.

5. Bei Vollmond kann ich überhaupt nicht schlafen, auch wenn ich nicht weiß, das gerade Vollmund ist.

6. Bevor ich ins Bett gehe, kontrolliere ich meinen Digitalwecker, obwohl ich genau weiß, daß er schon gestellt ist. Mir fällt es morgens sehr schwer beim ersten Klingeln aufzustehen, daher habe ich einen Doppelwecker - ich werde zweimal geweckt - einmal um 5.53 und einmal um 6.08. Zuletzt darf ich noch einmal auf die Schlummertaste drücken. Das bringt mir ganze 6 Minuten Zeit bis ich um 6.14 unbedingt aufstehen muss.


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1. As I've already mentioned, I like to wear socks to bed. But if the weather is really warm, as it has been this week, I'll go without.

2. I must have two pillows, one large, one small. The small one usually sits on top, but depending on my mood, I might sometimes put it under the large one. And of course both pillows need to be fluffed before I lie down. This drives my husband insane since he goes to bed much earlier than I do.

3. I wake up every night between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m. to go to the bathroom. While I'm totally blind during the day without my glasses, I can find my way in the dark with no vision correction.

4. As a night owl I would like to go to bed at 2 a.m. and get up at around 10 a.m. Alas, life has other plans for me.

5. I can't sleep at all when there's a full moon, even if I don't know there is one!

6. Before I got to bed I check my digital alarm clock even though I know full well that it's set correctly. It's really hard for me to get out of bed at the first signal in the morning, that's why my clock has a double alarm. It goes on at 5:53 a.m. and again at 6:08 a.m. After that I'm allowed to push the snooze button once. That gives me another 6 minutes until I absolutely have to get up at 6:14 a.m.


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Sunday, June 24, 2007

speaking in tongues

Attention all amateur linguists!

Language Week is taking place once again, this time from June 25 - 29 2007. Details and rules can be found here.

I participated in 2005 but missed it last year because I was on holiday and not paying attention. I'll be blogging in German (with English translations) since that's the only foreign language I have a handle on at the moment. You don't have to be a language genius to participate. Even a sentence or two every day will do. My entries from last year included:

Here Goes Nothing
Mausi Does Europe
All about Not Being Raised Bilingually
Languages I Don't Speak and What the Heck Am I Still Doing Here?

Read them at your own peril.


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Thursday, June 21, 2007

can you say humid?

The summer solstice is greeting Germany today with big wet kisses. It poured all morning up here on the hill while other parts of the country had it much worse - there's been talk of thunderstorms, mini tornados, torrential rainfall and flooding, especially down south. We seem to live in a good weather (well, good weather for Germany, anyway) pocket and don't get too much turbulence.

What we do get is some pretty massive humidity that has us all sweating away even if the temperatures aren't that high.

Here's a small language lesson - schwül is the adjective Germans use for a weather situation that is close, muggy, sticky or sultry. That means this word is used an awful lot this time of year. You have to watch this a bit, though, because schwul, a word that looks almost identical, is a colloquial term used to describe a gay man. What a difference an umlaut (= those two little dots above the u) makes, eh? And you thought you were safe talking about the weather! Watch that pronunciation and you'll be fine.

So yes, we find ourselves in mid summer and it's raining like crazy. While I don't mind at all, I must say the dry days we've been having have also been wonderful. Good thing I was quick on the draw with my camera yesterday while the sun was still shining.

You can tell it's summer when hot air balloons go sailing by right above your house.




There are all sorts of sun-loving flowers in the garden right now








and my succulents are busting out all over






This beautiful creature was patient enough to let me get a good look at him before he flew away. What can I say? Bugs love me, I guess.




Happy Summer!


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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

our resident naked bilingual moral apostle

Boy11 seems to have multiple personalities. He has absolutely no qualms about stripping down and running through the house stark naked, showing us everything he's got (which ain't much at the moment, thank goodness). He also delights in telling us in minute detail exactly which stop Boy14 is at on his journey through puberty. I'm happy for these somewhat graphic updates since I don't think I've seen Boy11's much more modest brother unclothed since he was about 8 years old. Although bathroom jokes abound between the both of them, it's like these kids are from two different planets.

But it's a very different story with Boy11 if WE start talking about "below the belly button" things of a recreational or procreational nature. Either he just doesn't want to hear it or has very concrete views on the subject of what is right and proper. And as usual, he likes to mix his languages a bit just to make sure I'm paying attention.


Me: Umm, Don't you think it's about time to put your pants back on?

Boy11: Oh, OK. Hey, did I tell you about the special surprise visitor our German teacher brought to school?

Me: You said you thought it might be a baby. Was it?

Boy11: No, it was just a Handpuppe*.

Me: Does Frau S. even have a baby? Is she going to have one soon?

Boy11: I'm not sure. She's not married, you know!

Me: Well, you don't have to be married to get pregnant and have a baby. We've talked about that before.

Boy11: I know, I know, but YOU didn't do that, did you? YOU were married BEFORE you got a baby**, right?

Me: Yes, Papa and I were married for a couple of years before I got pregnant with Boy14.

Boy11: Of course! That's the RIGHT way. FIRST you have to kennenlern yourselves!!


*hand puppet
**ein Baby bekommen translated literally into "get a baby" in English
***kennenlernen is a verb meaning "to get to know", "meet" or "make someone's aquaintance"


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Saturday, June 16, 2007

the honeymoon is over, but I'm OK with that

Well, today Mr. M and I celebrated 17 years of wedded bliss. 17 years - holy moley. That's a long time. If you want to know what it's been like, read what I wrote when we reached 15 years. Today? Same old, same old. Could be worse, could be a lot better. We're still working on that.

Yeah, the honeymoon is definitely over, but that's life, isn't it? Our actual honeymoon all those years ago began on June 21 and lasted 2 wonderful weeks. We flew from Vancouver to London, spent a sleepless newlywed night at the infamous Regent Palace Hotel and then traveled on to the island of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands.

Ah, those were the days. What a gorgeous place. We've been meaning to go back for so long but somehow real life keeps getting in the way.

The L'Ancresse Bay Hotel was (and still is, I suppose) a charming place run by an Englishman and his wife, a lovely woman from Luxembourg. The hotel did have its little quirks and there were moments when visions of Fawlty Towers would run through my head, but we managed to contain ourselves and enjoy the gracious hospitality.

I don't think I've ever walked so much in my life as I did during those two weeks. We were on the "half-board" plan at the hotel. That meant that breakfast and dinner were included in the price of our holiday. The meals were more than substantial and after the huge buffet breakfasts we rarely needed to eat again until evening. Mr. M, not familiar with a full English breakfast, ventured into the unknown and tried the "Smoked Golden Kipper". He says he will never, ever eat fish for breakfast again. Ever. He has nothing against eating smoked fish for lunch or dinner, however. More on that later.

Anyway, after a hearty breakfast and with bus passes in hand, we would venture off every day to explore the island, usually walking for 5 or 6 hours at a stretch and taking in all the attractions as well as the natural beauty of the island. When we returned in the afternoons we would go back to our hotel room and, um, "take a nap" until dinner time. Oh how things have changed! These days when we say we're taking a nap, we really ARE taking a nap. Just imagine.

Today was like any other day. Yes, I did get flowers, but I get flowers every Saturday, just like clockwork. There were visits to the flea market and naps galore. It rained a lot too, just like it rained on our wedding day.

And while I did a lot of fairly melancholy reminiscing about The Way Things Used to Be, I guess Mr M must have had our honeymoon on his mind as well since he spent the whole afternoon doing this:





Because I'm sure you'll agree that nothing says love like smoked fish.


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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

don't tell anyone, but...

Oh no! It's another meme. Andrea from BloggingMama tagged me for this one:

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

*****************************************************************

Here goes. Don't laugh.

1. Peanut butter makes me break out like a teenager.

2. My first car was a 1962 VW Beetle. It's still in the family.

3. Being bitten on the nose by a duck at an elementary school science fair when I was a kid taught me the meaning of pain.

4. Mr. M and I each have our own duvet so I like to wrap myself up like a human burrito while I'm sleeping with only my nose sticking out.

5. I go to bed with my socks on about 9 months of the year.

6. If I'm using salt I usually throw a pinch of it over my left shoulder. You just never know.

7. When I was 10 one of my brothers accidently killed my Sea-Monkeys®. I'll never let him forget it.

8. I come from a long line of thumb-suckers. I did eventually manage to give it up, but it went on for way longer than I care to admit.

There. And if that didn't satisfy you, more random trivia can be found here, here and here.


I won't tag anyone but go ahead and do this if you want to.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

and we all thought he'd kicked the habit for good

Much to our surprise Mr. M started smoking again on Saturday afternoon. But I'm not talking about tobacco, thank goodness.

Remember this ol' thing from last year? Here it is again, new and improved - this time he's invested in some mysterious heater thingie (once used for melting tar, or so I was told!) and connected it to a propane tank. Or something. I am totally ignorant in these matters. All I know is that I could see that "More power!" gleam in my husband's eyes as soon as he hooked it all up.



And what did he smoke? Well, let's see, what do men (if they are anything like my man) think about night and day? Why, legs and breasts, of course. Six chicken legs and a duck breast in this case. Pretty sexy, huh? Oh yes, especially with a nice spicy paprika rub.






The entire procedure went well except for a small mishap towards the end. As you can see from the pictures, the poultry was tied on to the smoking hooks with bits of string. Mr. M kind of forgot that string tends to burn at a certain temperature. He was reminded of this as three chicken legs fell off into the red-hot fat near the bottom of the smoker. We thought they were goners, however aside from being pretty charred on the outside, they were entirely edible, as was the rest of the haul. A little dark, perhaps, but once the skin was off much, much better than last year's effort. We shared with our neighbours and they agreed.



Now that he's aquired a taste for it once again, I wonder what Mr. M will be smoking next?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

tastes like chicken

Many thanks go out to heather in europe for pointing me in the direction of this very tasty recipe.



General Tao's Tofu


You read right, that's tofu in there. What? You don't like tofu? You may just change your mind after you try it done this way. I adore tofu in any form, but this was especially good. Even self-professed tofu-hater Mr. M had two helpings.

I rarely follow a recipe word for word and this one is very flexible. I doubled the delicious sauce and added a whole bunch more vegetables - red, yellow and green peppers, carrots, mushrooms and red onions. If I had had any broccoli on hand it would have made its way in there as well. In its original form the recipe is tailored to vegan/vegetarian diets. Since we are a family of omnivores, I used a real egg to coat the tofu and used chicken stock in the sauce because that's what I had in my cupboard.

And don't tell, but if you still can't get your head around the idea of eating tofu, I'm sure this would be equally good with chicken.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

sign me up for medical school

After four days of mostly lying flat on my back (and not in a good way, believe me) I thought a second opinion might be in order and sought the advice of my favourite ENT (ear, nose and throat for those of you who never get sick) doctor on Thursday afternoon. An ENT is called a HNO in German. Hals-Nasen-Ohren means throat, nose (well, noses actually. What's up with that?) and ears. Funny how those things work. Who gets to decide on the body part order?

In dealing with German doctors, I find it useful to do some research beforehand so I can go in and say "Guten Tag Herr Doktor! This is what's wrong with me and this is what I'd like you to do about it." They like the directness and I get out of there faster. Some have even asked me if I'm a medical professional to which I reply "Well, no, but I do have an internet connection and a brain."

Dr. B, who is a pretty nice guy as far as ENT doctors go, heartily agreed with my BPPV self-diagnosis but wanted to do a balance test to rule out any other nasties having to do with the brain and such.

Have you ever had a balance test? It's now on my list somewhere between giving birth and jet lag.

If you enjoy having electrodes glued to your face, this test is for you. There's also the hard stream of warm air that they blow into each ear in turn to stimulate the organ responsible for balance. Whoah! If you weren't dizzy before, that'll do it for you. After that they check for nystagmus (involuntary eye movements that often go along with a vertigo attack) by giving you a pair of funny glasses to wear and making you do contortions in the examining chair. Mr. M, who more or less patiently stuck it out in the waiting room for an hour and a half, thought I'd never get out of there.

They did eventually release me from the torture chamber and yeah, it was BPPV all right. Dr. B gave me a spiffy brochure detailing the exercises required to dislodge those little calcium crystals. The various maneuvers involve flinging yourself about on the sofa three times a day to put the little beggars back where they belong. I'm feeling much, much better now. Still a little lightheaded however that should be over soon, I'm sure.

But take a look at this. Poor, poor Tommy Roe. Is it really just the girl or could it be BPPV?

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