31 October, 2006

Does Media Beget Misbehaviour?

A friend and I are off on an escape weekend: her from her hectic job and me from any form of family obligations. Today we had a very interesting conversation about how possibly media, particularly cell phones and blackberrys, beget social misbehaviour. The reason we started talking about this topic was because of this article I read on BlogHer today.

The gist of my friend’s and my ensuing discussion is that we are convinced that all the different forms of communication media isn’t helping us to communicate better and it is also possibly resulting in poor social behaviour. And this, purely because social etiquette instructions are missing in all the devices’ operational manuals… (more).

28 October, 2006

Focusing On The Essential & Not The Details

I’m reading a book that talks a blot about art and being creative. The central idea of the various debates is that creating something (a drawing, a letter, a meal, a blog entry) is a matter of focusing on the essential and not the details. This seems a courageous thing to do.

Especially since I tend to examine and deliver only small minuets of my domestic life. Do I write about all these brief encounters because they are safe, unthreatening? Or are these seemingly meaningless encounters glimpses into the humble essences of my existence?

Do I need to change the tone, the language, the perspective, and content of this blog? It’s worth considering.

Once again, and most delightfully, I’m away with a friend for a weekend away. This time in Fleesensee, eastern Germany, in a restored superbly beautiful castle. What a fantastic adventure this is.

26 October, 2006

Things Turning Crazy Again

Have you ever noticed that there are phases in you daily life that no matter how you try to shift, cancel, and reorganise things, life remains totally confused and chaotic? It’s like someone has yanked up the underwear into your crack of life and no twisting and turning helps, everything remains unmanageable and uncomfortable.

Is there a term for yanking up someone’s underwear? It’s like short-sheeting someone’s behind instead of thier bed, isn’t it?

So, back to things turning crazy… I can’t really figure out why it happens. Obviously, I haven’t figured out the why; since this sort of thing continues to occur over and over again. I have experimented with different ways to cope with the chaos, or I’ve even attempted, unsuccessfully, to discover various means to avoid such a state, but I have yet to figure out why everything implodes spontaneously, leaving behind a tremendous mess.

Does this happen to everyone else and they just don’t let on? Am I the only one who knows a lot of fabulous organisers? It can be very inspirational thing to witness someone juggling a thousand appointments at a time. Sometimes though it can be rather intimidating, and at other times rather infuriating, but mostly I am just plain envious. Not envious in the sort of I-am-going-to-turn-over-a-new-leaf way. No, envious in the well-look-at-that-strange-species way.

I find it fascinating to see how others do it and I try to comment and commend my friends or colleagues about how well they organise their lives, but the acknowledgement of their talent doesn’t kick in to my sub-conscious. It’s like knowing a professional concert pianist; hearing them play doesn’t make me want to take up playing the piano myself.

In the end I think the only reason I am mentioning all this is because I listened to a radio program yesterday where They (the two moderators of the show) discussed A Study (who knows from where) that stated getting children involved in household chores makes them into wonderfully socially-intelligent domestically-adaptable creatures. The fact that I don’t do many (any really) household chores well or reliably makes me feel a complete failure as a role model. Oh, well, them’s the breaks.

24 October, 2006

Their Bags Are Packed…

Oh, how lovely, our dear ones are at this moment on their way home. May they have a safe and pleasant journey.

23 October, 2006

Going On Too Long

Nomad Son and Nature Girl are still far away in maple syrup country. Boy, talk about time slowing down! Time has halted. No kidding, I swear it feels like weeks and weeks have gone by since they left last Tuesday. That’s not even a week ago! It just isn’t possible.

What’s going to happen when they leave home in a few years time? We’d (I’d) better start practicing soon; for I think these last six days has taught me a thing or two about how completely unprepared I am to face the prospect of my dear ones leaving the nest.

21 October, 2006

Half time On The Montreal Trip

Half time is nearly here on the kids’ trip. There’ve only been floods of compliments, stories of praise, reflections of their beauty and might. It’s a bit overwhelming. I’d kind of like to tell the two of them how marvellous everyone finds them, and actually, how marvellous the Really Are.

Yet, another part of me says this is their trip, their experience and what type of impression they are leaving behind, is truly up to them. It is such a joy to know it is no longer my responsibility to organise their activities, nor subtly remove obstacles from their path, nor steer the direction of their intellectual pursuits. They have definitely taken off on their own journey. It has just taken a while for me to realise this.

20 October, 2006

Domestic Bliss II, or maybe III

Nomad Son and Nature Girl are still in Montreal. Boy, there seems to be a bit of a tug-a-war about who gets to “have” them for the day. Not, criticism. Just observation. It is kind of hard to figure this phenomenon out.

Hubbie and I are trying to find an existence aside from family life as we know and love. As many of you know, Hubbie is a veryvery domestic animal. Nothing better than staying at home with the kids and me: with everyone doing their own activity, but enjoying meals, movies, and the occasional philosophical conversation. None of this, why don’t we go out and do something different stuff that constantly floats to the front of my thoughts. But, in part, this is why I love him, so I might as well accept it, right?

17 October, 2006

Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge

In the last week or so, I’ve been the reciprocator of several delightful, delectable winks from people in the service sector (e.g. waiters or salespersons). The first time it happened was with a young waiter, who winked at me after he served me a café latte and a bit of repartee. I was a tiny bit shocked (he literally could have been my son), a bit thrilled (When was the last time a stranger, a handsome one at that, winked at me?), and somewhat perplexed (Was his job at the café so monotonous that a kind word from a customer warrant such a response?). Initially, I filed the episode under the label of “Latin type”, for he was from southern Europe. In the proceeding days though, this happened three times more: once from a woman.

Their winks are lovely, light, we-are-in-this-together sort of winks, and couldn’t possibly be construed as being lascivious. Though, admittedly, I’d go for lascivious at this point in my life.

You know what I think this is all about: for all the winkers have been young (20s), attractive, chic, self-confident people? I think the young Germans are leaning a new way to say Thank You! Which is sooooo refreshing. (Those of you who’ve visited Germany or who live here, know what a wonderful and rare this thing would be from people in the service sector.)

15 October, 2006

Safe and Pleasant Journey

Nomad Son and Nature Girl are leaving tomorrow to fly over to family in Montreal. The chicks are truly leaving the nest this time: a full ocean crossing to navigate, with stopover in Frankfurt. Keep your fingers crossed that their journey is a safe and pleasant one.

11 October, 2006

Broken or Not Broken

A colleague and I were standing at the bakery we go to during our lunch break at the university hospital. (We work at an university research institute attached to the hospital.) Two young nurses passed by chatting to each other. One of the nurses was carrying a large load of patient files. An x-ray fell out of one of the files. In what seemed an inappropriate brief moment, the nurse put the x-ray back into a file. My colleague and I eyed each other and wondered whether such is the way of faulty laboratory results.

09 October, 2006

Is that Blood?

Nomad Son is presently doing a two-week internship at the children’s surgery and intensive care ward at the university hospital. The eighth and tenth (his class) grades at his high school have this time off to participate in a “social” internship: any profession that deals with sick or handicapped people or special needs education.

They’ve allowed Nomad Son into the operating rooms, as well as helping (a leettle) in the intensive care ward. I find it amazing that it is possible for him to not only look at these medical procedures, but also carry out very minor (e.g. feeding, cleaning) activities with the nursing staff.

He came to see me in my office the other day during one of his coffee breaks. I noticed a dark stain on his sleeve. I asked him whether it was blood. He looked down to the sleave, considered it's origins, and then said, “No, it’s Nutella.” One of the young patients, who’s mentally-challenged, smeared his Nutella toast over his body rather than eating it. Nomad Son had to clean up the patient, thus the smear of dark substance on his scrubs.

He’s really lucked into a good position at the hospital: two of his friends in the same hospital are in the adult internal medicine ward and they are emptying out urine bags and handing out breakfast trays. Not so chic.

In some ways I wonder whether any sixteen year olds would be allowed to do internships in North American hospitals. What do you think? Would the administration staff’s concerns about insurance issues overweigh the benefits of potentially interesting the students choice of professions in the future? Maybe I’m wrong here.

07 October, 2006


Oh, what a luxury it is to spend a whole day doing Nothing.

Nothing in this case was catching up on various podcasts and making up this collage. Not quite sure what its title is or what it actually is suppose to represent. The only thing certain is it is meant to be a stark contrast to the rainy, grey, afternoon outdoors.

Halloween Cometh

Halloween was, when I moved to Germany twenty-four years ago, purely an American thing. In the last years this has changed. The children do not go door-to-door as much as celebrate the occasion at kindergartens, grade schools, daycare centres, or some children give Halloween parties.The children say “sweet or sour” instead of “trick or treat”. They don’t have the concept that tricking is a part of the whole fun of the day. I suspect that the children just like the occasion to dress up and eat lots of sweets. Yet, it is a start, isn’t it?

04 October, 2006

What is happening with Americans?

I am totally depressed, distressed, decompressed… There was an article in one of our major weekly news magazines about the new plastic surgery procedure in the States… toe tucks, or foot-lifts. I kind you not! Just snip a bit of bone, sinew, and skin away, and voilá scrawny toes? Is anyone even looking? What, everyone wants skinny toes. Yuck.

03 October, 2006

Three Girls Over Five Days

What was I thinking? Well, actually the three girls are fun and easy to care for.

The mademoiselles giving themselves facials.

One girl is more or less cut out of the same mail-order catalogue as my daughter, Nature Girl: they are smart, inquisitive, self-reliant, and have an impish sense of humour. They both like to read: one is reading the translation of the French book, “Le Voyage de Theó”, by Catherine Clement and the other the translation of the Danish book, “En som Hodder”, by Bjarne Reuter.

The second girl comes from a Baptist family: pleasant, but strict parents. She’s finding it very hard to relax into the whole adventure. Yet, we, and she, are all trying our best.

What I do miss a little is a certain ebb and flow in conversation. These three seem to talk the whole time. The only pauses occur when they turn on the television or watch a DVD. The problem is, as far as I can discern, the second girl doesn’t read books.

I am always surprised to meet people who don’t. Obviously, if you look at the statistics, a lot of people don’t. I just don’t know many who don’t. It is similar to the situation of not knowing anyone who votes conservative, in Germany, or republican, in the States, even though these parties are in office with majority votes. How does that work?

I’m rambling… time to stop writing.

Sitting in a Delightful Café

Just me and my lonesome. Tea is in the process of being made.

Oh, paradise. I’m sitting in one of my favourite cafés of Nieby (the only café in the village). The gals are off at the beach. It is part of a nature reserve (here).

An autumnal centrepiece gone wild.

We went shopping early this morning for a few food stables and freshly baked bread rolls. Just as we came out of the store, the sun burst out from behind clouds. I asked the girls whether they wouldn’t rather just go off to the beach for an improvised breakfast picnic, instead of heading back home. You would have thought I had suggested they jump into a lake with all their clothes on. Fortunately, Nature Girl reacted enthusiastically, after a millisecond of delay.

What a perfectly delightful experience it was. The sun had just come up over a misty horizon. There was no wind. Sea birds abound. We even found an improvised wooden bench and unpacked any thing we could find from our grocery bags and just ate out of the wrappings and packaging.

Arrived Safe and Sound

In Sillekjer, first evening…

The girls are all in bed, but I don’t know if they are going to manage to sleep any time soon. They had a sponsor charity race today in school, so actually they should be soooo tired. We’ll, see.

One of the girls has brought along a Wellness Music CD. I kid you not, that is the title of the CD. It is produced for one of the local pharmacy chains. I’ve put it on, to try and drone the children into slumber. Sara has just sneaked out of the bedroom and asked me to skip a song or two; she finds the twittering birdsong irritating. Oh, my Nature Girl! You can tell she has lived in a city all her life. Oh dear, me thinks there is a hole in her upbringing.

The CD rattles and goes swish-swish in my laptop… and I find that every so irritating! Sure hope this is working so I can turn it off soon.

We are on our Way (Really)

I’m sitting in the train with Sara and friends travelling up north towards Rabenholz (here).

Steady camera is an impossibility during a train ride.

This train ride is one of my favourites. From Luebeck to Kiel takes around an hour or so by train, and there is one lovelier small town after another. The most quaint train station in Germany is also on this route. It is Ploen. It is an old wooden station that was restored beautifully a few years ago: on one side the station, on the other side of the lake. Between the lake and the train is only one narrow pedestrian path.

Ploen’s lakeside view.

The sky has clouded over… so much for the weather forecast. It doesn’t really mater anyway, where we are going is fun in any weather.
This is the first time Sara is doing anything other than going to a birthday party with her friends. They have been in the same class since last year, but, as seems prevalent, the school friends don’t seem to do much socialising outside of school. Isn’t that strange?