27 November, 2005


In German they call it having a “bumblebee in your bum”. Restlessness. I like the German expression better. The weekend has passed by jerkily: movies, meals, books, and shopping.

Talking about bums... I was in a restaurant the other day and a three or four year old (precocious) girl asked her mother how you spell caca (in German, aa). The mother explained to her daughter that one does not write caca, but if she was to write it, it would be written aa. The girl spent the rest of her lunch writing aa in her soup, over and over again.

26 November, 2005

Starless Night

Cold. Black. Starless night.

The first of Advent is tomorrow, though the Christmas Market started yesterday. This old Unesco city sets a magnificent stage for such celebrations. It also means that those of us who actually live on the island, have to crab-walk through the crowds for the next four weeks.

Read this article in the New York Times today. Even the title, “As Corporate Ad Money Flows Their Way, Bloggers Risk Their Rebel Reputation “, made me want to wince. What rebel reputation? Maybe Ms. Story should first go back a few decades to the founding of the telephone.

The telephone was initially an alternative to the telegraph: purely a means of information exchange. It took all those women working in the post offices to transform an information device into a communication device. It was this shift in content which started a revolution.

The same revolution, not act of rebellion, has been happening the last two years in the Internet, driven, in part, by bloggers and podcasters. The times of rebel or cowboy bloggers has long gone. Journalists, politicians, educators, parents, lovers, priests, and even, yikes, lawyers are using blogs these days. The fact that some of the bloggers have found schemes to earn money doing this seems very secondary.

25 November, 2005

First Snow

It might be hard to see the flurry of snow flakes, but they are there. Our first winter snow.
It’s Friday and time to go and luxuriate in a café.

The one café I go to has a non-smoking section. Revolutionary. When the café first opened up, the non-smoking section was at the front of the café: drafty, small tables, uncomfortable upright chairs. I asked the manager why the sofa-section at the back of the café was just for smokers: didn’t they think non-smokers like to laze about?

They kindly made half the sofa-section non-smokers, but it doesn’t work: the smokers still sit in the non-smoking section every hour of the day.

So, I started a new sport. While ordering my coffee, I ask the café employees whether they could please ask the smokers to reseat themselves. And then I go and sit down and watch how ineffectively the employee carries out her job (e.g. informs the customers that this is a non-smoking section, but doesn’t ask them to leave) and how huffy and put-upon the smokers react to the news.

Oh, I know this is petty, but it is better to be petty with a sense of the absurd, than a militant self-righteous non-smoker.

23 November, 2005

Mobile Advent Calendar

Our mobile advent calendar school project is starting next week. It is a organisational (nightmare) wonder. There are over a hundred 5th grade children participating in the affair, ten mentors (grade 10 students) supervising it, approximately 10 teachers involved, and that is not counting all the people involved “behind the scenes”.

Four groups of children, one from each of the fifth grades, new to the school and surrounding neighbourhood, go out each day during Advent equipped with PDAs, GPS, and digital cameras and open up specific doors and discover surprises behind these doors.

Not only are the fellow students and teachers of the school involved in creating surprises (e.g. Christmas carols sung in Latin, Spanish, French and English, poems) for the 5th graders, but the neighbouring institutions (e.g. museums, grade school, hospital, churches, and day care centre) also have prepared surprises.

You can imagine it like a mobile digital multimedia treasure hunt. That is, if these words mean anything to you. I had a brainwave for the project in September, and since December seemed so far away, I decided we should go for it this year. Silly. Why didn’t I take into consideration that we (me, the Old Fart, and some university students) are also supporting about fourteen other projects in the schools?

Thus, long work days, frazzled nerves, but there is definitely a tingle; which tickled me awake at three this morning and I couldn’t get back to sleep. Definitely time to set in new tactics.

22 November, 2005

Golden Pink Haze

There was a spectacular sunrise this morning. The whole city was engulfed in a golden pink haze.

My mother called to tell a tale from her island in the sun. It concerns a British couple who moved into the neighbourhood. Very British. Very Hoity. The type of British that makes all citizens of previous British colonies or Commonwealth countries feel very insignificant, unworthy, and, the worst, very bland.

(Something to be equalled to attending a dinner party as the only non-French woman. French women are masters at giving other women The Look.)

My mother was all in a stir: it turns out that Mrs. Hoity Toity was, in a past life (twenty years ago), a porno star. My mother’s glee has no limit, “You can even google her and see it on the Internet!”

It’s it amazing how the verb “googling” has even reached the vocabulary of a 75 year old?

18 November, 2005

Spare Time

This week: exhausting, busy, crazy.

I was sitting in one of my favourite restaurants this afternoon with Sara. Joan Armatrading was playing in the background. Oh, I suffered such a severe rush of nostalgia that I nearly got whiplash as I whipped back twenty years or more in time.

I was right there listening to her LP (we actually bought LPs then and not CDs), reading Jane Austin, drinking a generous portion of scotch, and generally drifting aimlessly through the weekends with time to spare. I was also addicted to T.S. Elliot, Keith Garret, rare glimpses of Sam Sheppard on the movie screen, and holding my wardrobe together with safety pins (not as a fashion statement, this was Way Before punk, but as practical solution).

When was the last time that the term “spare time” crossed your lips? Seriously. When was the last time you actually had spare time?

They don’t even have a word for it in German. They have free time, which, if you know anything about anything, is not the same. Spare time is to be frivolously discarded, wasted, enjoyed or not enjoyed, depending on your mood of the moment. There is an element of timelessness about it. You learn what it is like to float in space when you are travelling in spare time. Ok, this might be getting ridiculous, because, obviously, I have never floated in space. So, the end.

P.S. for those that do not know, I am dyslexic and therefore don’t know how to spell names properly, let alone important masterful words. I am a slave to my spell check program.

11 November, 2005

Two Eyebrows are not Enough

There is a wonderful critique of the “Pride and Prejudice” film, directed by Joe Wright, in the New Yorker.

If going to see the movie is as much fun as reading the article, then I am all for it. Here is a precious observation,

“What would Mr. Bennet make of the film? He would be left wondering, I suspect, why God gave him only two eyebrows to raise.”

Rainy Friday. Thank heavens. I've been so wanting a lie-on-the-sofa weekend, and now it has come.

10 November, 2005

What to do…

I received an email from a friend of mine who wrote the following about my blog:

“Just revisited your blog site - it's disconcertingly like reading someone's diary but also a lovely sort of indirect connection, in at a tangent as it were. Should I send comments, is that the idea? And then whoever logs in gets to listen in on the conversation? I am not very familiar with blogs yet.”

The answers to her questions are yes, and yes. To anyone reading this blog, it would be nice to know your thoughts on the topics I write about. It’s not a must, just a can do if the notion hits you.

I know that my blog does not have a general theme and purpose as yet. I am sorry; it is going to take me a while to figure this out. Most blogs I like and visit have a political, social, or personal message. Mine doesn’t. I am very open to any suggestions.

Generally, blogs are public documents. At the moment I see my blog as an honest, humble, but important alternative to sending serial letters.

Don't get me wrong about serial letter, I don’t mind receiving them, but I sure do not like writing them. A blog is something that you can read if you want, without you feeling it is actually meant for you.

I like to share with friends and family some of the mundane incidents or conversations in my day-to-day life. Blogging is an opportunity for me to relive those moments, as well as for you to gauge where I am sitting on precarious seesaw between balance and chaos.

Hopefully, with time, I'll find some meaningful content to share with a public audience.

Extracting Wisdom Teeth - I'm Off Podcasting

I am just about to go off to a school where the 6th grade students are making a podcast about “Barrier-free Luebeck“. The idea is for the children to explore how it is for people in rolling chairs to go in and around town. They have interviewed bus drivers, taxi drivers, and someone at the German Railroad Co.

The only thing they haven’t done, as yet, is to explore what they think about how it is for someone in a rolling chair to move around town and to articulate these thoughts for the other students. It is a bit like pulling teeth. Gosh, I hope I can extract some wisdom teeth today.

09 November, 2005

Sunny Cool Days

Off to a school in Travemünde this afternoon. The computer club is making up a ubiquitous learning/ website presentation about the Baltic Sea. One of my favourite teachers is working with the student (grade 6 to 10).

It’s a sunny cool day. Wonderful to drive to the coast with.

I won a (virtual) prize from the author of one of my favourite blogs (360 degrees of sky) for guessing that all of the strange stories she told in a blog entry were correct.

05 November, 2005

Mid-afternoon Twilight

It’s four o’clock in the afternoon and twilight. By the time Christmas comes around it will be already pitch dark at this time. November and February are definitely the difficult months though; for spirits pick up for the holiday season. It’s just the before and after, which wears the soul down.

Everyone I know (practically) is down with a grippe. Strange, don’t remember all these winter flues hitting everyone simultaneously. I remember we all use to get one or two colds a year. Sometimes a winter cold, sometimes a summer cold, which oddly we thought was worse than a winter cold. Or maybe not.

Sara has her gym tournament tomorrow. Hammed, our neighbour, knocked on the door to ask when we (her loyal father and mother) were going over, so we could pick him up on the way over. Feeling Rather Guilty, I said neither Sara's father nor I had thought of going to the tournament. So, Plan B, I am going to pick him up at twelve and loyal husband, generously, says he’ll do the ironing.

Reminds me of the last year I danced in the Nutcracker at Les Grand Ballet Canadiens. My mother's friends kept on saying how wonderful I was and my mother had to admit that she hadn’t seen me that year: though to give her credit she had seen me all the previous years. There was a lot of tisk-tisking and so off she went with my grandmother to see me.

Every time I came on stage my grandmother would say very loudly, “There she is. Isn’t she wonderful?” After the initial ruffling of feathers of the nearby audience for talking out loud, My mother said most people got into the spirit of my grandmother’s enthusiasm and someone even pointed me out to her at a later point in time.

03 November, 2005

Bruised Heart

Just fooling. Actually, I don’t have a bruised heart but a bruised rib. Though there are moments when I think the rib is broken with a very sharp end sticking into my lungs and why don’t I go to a doctor. Really, my rib is only bruised.

We started a new blogging program at the high school. It is about women literature in the 19th and 20th century. Will be interesting to see what the grade 12 class comes up with.