Bezirk [1] in Berlin© – 25:  April 2, 2012

LEAP YEAR

I just figured out what’s great about Leap Year – our February rent gets us a little bit more that it ordinarily would.

UNLEARNING ENGLISH

And another reason learning German is hard – you sometimes have to un-learn English rules.  For example, well-bred English-speaking children have the difference between ‘bring’ and ‘take’ pounded into their little heads.  It’s a directional thing—if something is being carried TO the speaker, it’s ‘bring’; if something is being carried AWAY FROM the speaker, it’s ‘take.’  As in:

  •  Please bring me the rhinoceros.
  • Please take my unicorn to the doctor.

Well, German has the word ‘nehmen’, which the dictionary tells you means ‘take’.  It also has the word ‘bringen’, so you think you’ve got this one nailed, right?  WRONG!  The dictionary will tell you that ‘bringen’ means BOTH ‘take’ and ‘bring’.  Whoa, Nelly!!  Why does one word mean both ‘bring’ and ‘take’ and why are there are TWO words for ‘take’?  It’s simple.  You use ‘nehmen’ when you’re already going somewhere and you’re just taking something else along for the ride.  For example, it if might rain, you’ll use ‘nehmen’ to describe what you’re doing with your raincoat.   “Ich werde meinen Regenmantel mitnehmen.”  BUT if the whole purpose of the trip is to take the raincoat from one place to another, you’ll need to use ‘bringen’.  “Ich werde meinen Regenmantel zu der chemische Reinigung bringen.” (As in “I’ll take my raincoat to the drycleaner’s.”)  And, of course, if you’re asking someone to stop by the dry cleaner’s, pick up your raincoat, and bring it to you, you’ll also use ‘bringen.’   They just slice the world up a bit differently than English speakers do.  And the particularly fiendish thing about it is that they use the same words used by English speakers while they’re doing it!

SPRING TIME IN BERLIN

Be still, my heart!!  I’m starting to see the first signs of Spring in Berlin!  The colors blue, teal, pink, yellow, green, purple, and lavender are everywhere!  And that’s just the hair!  I’m also starting to see the subtle chartreuse of the weeping willows along the canal, which is no longer covered in ice!  And the birds are raising a ruckus! Some flowers are blooming!  I can safely put away my heavy boots and Arctic coat![2]  We’ve turned off the heat in the bedroom completely, and turned the heat in the living room down to 2 (maximum is 5)!  But, the thing I’m most excited about is yet to come, and that’s wearing earrings again!  Hats and earmuffs make wearing earrings dangerous, if for no other reason that you lose some in the process.  In fact, I lost one of my most favorite earrings when I took off a hat and one of my earrings flew away.  And, of course, you ALWAYS lose your favorites because the earrings you DON’T like as much are always sitting safely at home in a drawer.

NOTE TO SELF

I bought a lighted make-up mirror and thought it was kinda keen that all you had to do to turn on the light was to touch it anywhere.  Well, first, do you have any idea how many times you might bump the damned thing when you’re in a make-up frenzy?  Trust me – it’s lots!  Further, if you happen to have feline friends who pass that way en route to their sunny spot in the window, they can turn the thing on, too, so when you’re not using it, you have to unplug it after you use it (an endeavor that poses certain challenges for those of us who have flexibility and balance issues).

 WANT SOME CHAMPAGNE?

Well, OK, maybe it’s not real ‘champagne’ since the French have a lock on the term and even though it’s made the same way, with the same stuff, and tastes the same, no one can call it ‘champagne’ unless it was made in right part of France.  But it even if you have to call it ‘prosecco’ it still tastes the same.  But I digress…. So, if you want a treat here, all you need to do here is buy something.  For example, when we bought our dryer, we got a bottle of prosecco, a small cake, and some chocolates.  When Harvey got his new eyeglasses, we got a bottle of prosecco, some peanuts, and some chocolates.  Nonetheless, unless you get one of those fancy-dancy champagnes, it’s still a lot cheaper to buy your own prosecco than to buy a dryer or a pair of eyeglasses.

BIOSPHERE

Yesterday we had the kids all day so we took them to Biosphere.  It’s hard to explain this place.  It’s more or less a museum for kids that focuses on ecology in one fashion or another.  One exhibit showed the effect of global warming in a way that kids could understand.  There was a clear, Plexiglas box.  Inside the box was a 3-dimensional landscape, with a couple of houses, a barn, a few cows in a pasture, and a tunnel with a few  cars going through it.  The level of the water in the box could be adjusted.  When a group of kids came up to it, all the structures would be above sea level.  The cars could get through the tunnel; the cows were standing in their pasture; the houses were near – but clearly above – the water.  As the kids watched, the attendant opened a valve and gradually the water level rose so the kids could see first one house – and then, later, the next one – fill with water.  And the pasture and the tunnel gradually filled with water, no doubt much to the consternation of the folks in their cars and the cows in their pasture.  I’m not sure the attendant appreciated my comment that we’re just gonna have to teach our cows to swim.  I’m pretty confident that the intent was to make a profound impression on the youngsters regarding the seriousness of the matter.

Another part of the museum was an indoor tropical forest.  There were all sorts of fish and ducks and birds you’d expect to see there.  My favorite, though, was the really goofy chicken with the long feathers on his legs – not exactly the typical Leghorns and Rhode Island Reds that my Grandma raised.  I couldn’t find a good photo of this type of chicken, but the one below is close.  Just imagine him with almost no neck – this huge feathery ball plodding clumsily about, trying desperately not to trip over the feathers covering his feet.

http://chickenbreedslist.com/Cochin.html

But, our granddaughter drew a picture of this goofy chicken that looks a lot more like what we saw:

 


I UNDERSTAND THE LOGIC….

OK.  I know that you need a tripod to keep your camera steady, especially when you’re taking pictures in places where the light is relatively low (such as in an indoor artificial tropical forest in Germany).  And I understand why a tall person (which many Germans are) would find a 5-foot tripod convenient.  I mean, if you’re almost 7 feet tall, you really don’t want to hunch over a 3-foot tripod.  I get it.  But still – seeing someone with a camera that’s smaller than a deck of cards affixed to the top of a 5-foot tripod is hard to wrap your head around.

CAT PARTS

Don’t know what it is about Germans, but they seem to have a proclivity for naming candy after cat parts.  This observation is based on an exhaustive example of two instances.  First, there are some chocolates called ‘cat tongues’ – Katzenzungen.  These are slivers of chocolate, roughly about 1.5 inches long, with each end shaped pretty much like a cat’s tongue.  Then there are some licorice candies called Katzenpfoten – which translates as ‘cat paws.’  As much as an ailurophile as I am, given where I KNOW cat tongues and cat paws go, I’m pretty sure I could think of lots of other names for things I expect folks to willingly put in their mouths before I would ever come up with ‘cat tongues’ or ‘cat paws.’

NOTE TO SELF

You are no spring chicken any more.  You’re not even middle-aged anymore (unless, of course, you intend to live to be 114 years old).  You do not have the strength you used to have, particularly in your arthritic hands.  If it’s bigger or heavier than a cup of coffee (and we’re talking a regular, smallish cup here only), do NOT pick it up with ONE hand.  EVER!  You have a choice:

  • Choice #1:  Spend the next 20 minutes enjoying the delicious dinner that Harvey brought home from our favorite Vietnamese restaurant – a dish I loving refer to as ‘Nummer elf mit Garnellen’ (or #11 with shrimp), OR
  • Choice #2:  Spend that same 20 minutes cleaning up said dinner from the floor while fighting off the cats, followed by eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner, with the wonderful fragrance of Nummer elf mit Garnellen taunting you all the while.

All you have to do to secure Choice #2 — for God’s sake! — is to use BOTH your hands to carry your plate those 10 steps from the kitchen to the dining table.  It’s not that hard!  Really!

Remember –“learning from your mistakes” does NOT mean “repeating them exactly”!!

DAMNED BORING!  (OR IS IT MAYBE ‘BORINGDAMM’?)

The U-bahn station closest to us is Mehringdamm.  [The suffix ‘damm’ means ‘embankment’ – kinda close to the English ‘dam’ – but I don’t know what the significance of ‘Mehring’ is.]  Each U-bahn station is uniquely decorated, which clearly is a help when you’re trying to figure out where to get off—particularly if you’d had a few too many German beers.  [Naturally, they also have signs, but additional visual clues are also helpful.]  Without exception (at least until now!) the motifs are at least interesting and at best absolutely gorgeous.  For example, a station may have bright yellow and red tiles or even just black and white tiles, but with intricate designs.   Mehringdamm was one of the oldest and most deteriorated stops.  When we first moved here, they began the renovation.   Based on all the creative approaches at the other stations, we were looking forward to something nice.  And what do we get at the station that we have to go into practically anytime we want to go somewhere?  Well, first, there is no design whatsoever.  The walls are simply covered with tiles that are about the size of a piece of printer paper.   The tiles are a single, solid ‘color’ without so much as a texture to relieve the tedium.  And the color itself [if you can even call it that]?  It’s not even a pretty color!!  Do you remember when you had those water paint sets as a kid?  Remember how the water you dipped your brush in always looked after you’d finished painting?  Yeah, well, that’s the ‘color’ of the tiles.  And they’ve put the name of the station in stainless steel letters, which reflect the color of the tiles, pretty successfully camouflaging the name of the station.   But that’s OK, since it’s the only F-UGLY station in the WHOLE system!!  That pretty much singles it out.  And we have to look at it every time we venture out!  I’m gonna propose renaming the station to Boringdamm!  The tiles aren’t even all up yet and there’s already some graffiti on them.  I’m ordinarily annoyed by graffiti, especially on something that’s brand new.  In this case, I might have made an exception and welcomed it to relieve the vast nothingness that is now Mehringdamm.  But even the graffiti is in a non-color and is boring!  This place is so boring that it has clearly even sucked the creativity out of the graffiti artists!!  I’m aware of the concept of ‘minimalist design’ but this obviously goes much farther than that, into the realm of ‘negative nothing’.

CAN’T DENY IT ANY MORE

It’s official – I’m old.  The age spots; the white hair; the arthritis; the need for naps – I’ve managed to ignore all these signs as long as I can.  And I might have continued to ignore them, except for the new signs, which befell me today.  First, I noticed a hair growing out of my ear – a loooong one.  Then, not once but twice today I was offered a seat on the U-bahn.  The first time I had the grandkids with me and holding onto a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old while maintaining your balance is obviously a challenge.  The second time was after I had dropped the kids off.  And BOTH times it was young women – not young men –who offered me seats!  Actually, the first time – and the most obvious situation – a young man with a seat offered his seat to a hot young thing standing in the aisle.  It was this hot young thing who gave me the seat the young man had offered to her.  Somebody’s doing a lot better job raising their girls than they are their boys!!

MORE TRASH TALK

My list of folks who just need slappin’ is getting longer and longer.  First, it’s the folks who put up the scaffolding in the fall so the roofers could fix the roof.  Fixing the roof is a good thing (although doing it right after we had cleaned the windows was a bit annoying).  The guys who erected the scaffolding broke one of the boards on the scaffolding.

  • Did they take it with them when they disassembled and removed the scaffolding?  Of course not!
  • So, we actually have a trash bin for old wood (among other things).  But, would the broken board fit in it?  Of course not!
  • Will the trash folks even touch a bin that is over-flowing?  Of course not.  So the pieces of the broken board have just been lying around in front of the building for months.
  • Did the Hausmeister do anything about it?  Of course not.
  • Our landlord would likely have taken care of it but he would have to know about it first.  Does he have an e-mail account where we can send him a message (since we’d need to carefully compose a German note because our German is too sloppy for him to comprehend)?  Of course not.

I saw an opportunity awhile back to do something about it myself.  There was some renovation about a block from us and they had a huge dumpster for the trash.  I kept intending to do take the boards down there, but only remembered it when I saw them as I was leaving the building (and had to hurry to somewhere) or as I was returning home (and typically too tired to drag a huge board a block to the dumpster).  And before I got around to it, the dumpster was hauled away.  But, the Gods smiled on me once again!  Someone just across the street is also doing some renovation and has a dumpster!  I noticed it en route to my German class and promised myself that when I came back, before I went inside I would absolutely finally get rid of the dastardly board.  But when I came back, I noticed the board was gone!  Imagine my delight that, for once, someone ELSE in the house had taken a little initiative.  But my joy was short-lived, because upon leaving the building this morning, I saw that, although someone had moved it, they had merely put it in a different place.  If they were gonna go to the trouble to move it at all, wouldn’t they just go ahead and take it across the street to the dumpster?  Of course not!  So, when I came back I FINALLY took the 3.5 minutes it needed to pick up this flippin’ board and carry it across the street.  [And we’re not talking a busy street – our street is only 1 block long and it goes from nowhere to nowhere.  Our street functions more like a drive way—its only function is to provide access to the buildings on our street.  If you’re trying to get from one place to another, if one of those places isn’t on our street, going down our street is a detour.  We rarely have ANY traffic whatsoever.]  OK, so here’s the list of folks who need slapping:

  • Scaffolding guys who left the board
  • Hausmeister who did nothing
  • All the other tenants who did nothing
  • Landlord for not having an e-mail address
  • Trash company for making the bin for such things actually SMALLER than the other bins
  • Trash folks who won’t touch a bin if it’s overflowing
  • Person who only moved it but didn’t solve the problem

I got a lot of slappin’ to do, so I better get busy!!

HELP ME UNDERSTAND

Just when I come to reluctant acceptance of certain ‘fashion statements’, something new pops up to twist my unsophisticated brain.  I accept that folks will pay huge sums of money to buy jeans that have holes in them.  [I don’t understand it, but I’ve come to accept it.]  Today I saw a young lady in such jeans, with a new spin – suspenders.  But, of course, she wasn’t wearing them over her shoulders, but rather they were dangling by her sides.  It was clear that she didn’t need the suspenders in the first place – the jeans were practically painted on her and were in no danger of falling down.  So, she doesn’t need suspenders in the first place and then doesn’t wear them as intended.  Certainly, if I had a shape like hers, I’d wear skin-tight jeans, too.  But I still don’t think I’d wear jeans with holes, and I definitely wouldn’t wear the suspenders, especially just flapping in the breeze like that, because I can promise you, I’d end up getting them caught on something – perhaps a moving bus or a bicyclist – and end up breaking my neck.

CACOPHONY

If I got to choose how to spell this word, I would spell it ‘cacaphony’, which would seem more suitable.  But I digress….  As I’ve noted earlier, a ride on public transportation can often be accompanied by musical performances.  I experienced a performance today that I daren’t describe as ‘musical.’  The young man was rapping.  This isn’t an art form for which I’ve been able to develop any affection whatsoever, and the probability of me developing such affection is absolutely not increased when the rap is in German.  He, of course, went through the bus trying to collect donations.  I might have given him something if he had sought donations as a bribe NOT to regale us with his nonsense, though.  And, naturally, he was also on the bus on my return trip!  Lucky me!!  As my Louisiana cousins might say, “Now that just ain’t right!”

GERMAN CUSTOMER SERVICE

If you wanna find the concept in Webster’s, look under ‘OXYMORON’ and you’ll find “For example, German customer service.”  I’m trying to find some material to make something for our daughter-in-law.  She likes Indian (from India) designs – paisleys, etc.  It might seem logical to take her with me to find the material she’d like.  But she’s got 2 kids and is 8 months pregnant.  I found a shop in our neighborhood that had something she might like.  I went in and wanted to take photos of the various materials so I could show them to her.  The proprietress wouldn’t let me take photos!!  This is not the first time I’ve been in this shop (but it IS the first time I went into it WITHOUT buying anything).  I explained the situation, to no avail.  Her response – “I’ve had this shop for 28 years and no one has ever wanted to take a photo of anything before.”  [I can hear her telling her friends all about how this crazy American wanted to take photos of the material now!]  How this explains why it will in any way be to her disadvantage for me to take a photo was unclear.  She even suggested that I go to the shop across the street because they may let me take photos!  [Subtext:  Get you and your crazy-assed American ideas the hell out of my shop!]  I’d already been there; and they let me take photos; no problem.  Alas, the other shop didn’t have nearly the selection that this woman has, so I’ll likely let my outrage take second place to my desire to make something my dear daughter-in-law would enjoy.   Later  I looked at a couple of other stores, but still this store had the best selection, and I love my daughter-in-law.  So I went back.  As I was picking out the cloth, there was this one piece that the woman really, really wanted me to buy because it was HER favorite!  The fact that it had none of the colors I was looking for was irrelevant.   In our conversation, it came up that I was going to use it to make pillows for my daughter-in-law’s sofa. THEN the woman started going on about how it would be a shame to cut the material (which was actually a light bedspread).  I explained that if I could find this type of pattern in a fabric store, I would buy it there instead.  But my daughter-in-law likes things with an Indian motif and none of the fabric stores had any fabric remotely resembling that.  They have cutsey fabric with apples, or vegetables, etc., but that’s not the kind of thing she likes.  So, let me understand:  I’m the customer; I’m here to get something I like (not what she likes); and after I buy it, I can damned well do whatever I want with it and it’s not really any of her business.  At least, that’s how I look at it – crazy me!!  And I could tell that she wasn’t any too happy with me unfolding the bedspreads so I could see the whole pattern.  Hell, maybe I should have just stood completely outside the store and just told her to select something and bring it to me, so I didn’t mess up her store!  THEN she brings up the business about taking photos.  I took the opportunity to tell her that just because no one had ever done it before didn’t make it wrong; besides, the fact that almost everyone has a camera with them these days (in their phones, or they’re otherwise so small it’s easy to carry one with you all the time) makes it possible to take photos in situations like this, when it wasn’t an option before.  Her response?  “Well, this is an old-fashioned store and I just don’t like all that modern technology in my store.”  Well, alrighty then!!  I’m not in there trying to make her accept some technology that will be there permanently and that she’ll have to use and therefore she’ll have to change the way she does things; I’m just there for a moment and once I’d taken a photo, I’d be gone.  How is that going to rock her world?  I’m of two minds:  (1) I never want to go into that shop again (although it has lots of things that strike my fancy); OR (2) I can’t wait to see what other crazy nonsense she can up with when I next visit.  I’m even tempted to think up some things to do just to see how she’d respond – maybe bring a tape recorder next time.

TOURIST SEASON

Our first visitors for 2012 will be here before you know it!  And what that means is I have to re-fresh my memory on the checklist.  There are so many things about living here that are different from living in the States (at least for us) and now that I’ve become accustomed to them, I might forget to share critical info with our house guests, such as:

  • How to get out in case of a fire:  Older flats (and maybe newer ones, too, but I’ve just not really seen any new ones) typically have 2 deadbolts on the doors.  I don’t think that this is because it’s any more dangerous here than in the States, but it just seems to go along with the ‘sturdiness’ concept that I associate with Germans.  And, at least in our case, you must have the house keys to get OUT of the house if you’ve locked the doors.  This is not a notion that I’m particularly comfortable with, and we could actually just close the doors without turning the keys.  [The door would still be locked, just not as securely.]  But there’s a kicker:  if you are robbed and if both of your deadbolts weren’t locked, the insurance company won’t pay.  Note to self:  If we get robbed, before we call the police, find some way to break the lock!]  So, we keep door keys on a hook right next to the door so we can always get out.  You don’t need to be hunting for your keys while your flat is on fire!  And, because there are 2 locks, it’s entirely possible that you can waste valuable time unlocking and relocking the locks.  On each door, you turn the key one way to open one of the other locks AND the opposite way to open the other lock.  And, of course, the back door is the opposite of the front door, so there’s no hope of remembering ‘Top lock turns right; bottom lock turns left.’  So, I have a system—the top lock is actually a vertical lock and extends rods up to a hole in the top of the door frame and to the bottom of the door frame.  Fortunately, the rod is exposed, so you can feel which way the rod is moving.  Therefore you can confirm the status of this lock (locked or unlocked).  So, if you open this one first, then you can know that one of the locks is unlocked and you’re halfway there so you only have to futz with the second lock.  And, by all means, don’t leave the flat without a key, because the door locks automatically when you close it and there’s no way to prevent that.
  • How the toilet works:  In the master bathroom, the toilet has 2 buttons – one for #1 and another for #2.
  • Bath tub tips:  Wow!  This is the biggest and at least the second most important (after getting out in case of a fire).  First, the bathtub is very, very narrow.  In addition to posing a problem for those of us with butts in a size that exceeds the design specs of the tub, it makes for precious little flat surface at the bottom of the rub.  It is barely wider than the length of my foot, making the rest of the surface curved – not terribly friendly on a wet, slick surface.  And there’s absolutely nothing to grab onto if you start to slip.  Given the robustness of even the locks on internal doors (which themselves are strong – unlike the heavy cardboard doors you find in lots of places in the States), if you should slip and fall with the bathroom door locked, we’d have to call the fire dept to get into the bathroom.
  • And, of course, there are the precautions we have to take to kitty-proof things:
    • Be sure the bathroom doors are always shut, because William will shred the toilet paper.
    • Be sure to keep the door to the guest room shut because William will help himself to any and every thing that strikes his fancy.
    • Don’t leave your pills out – even in the bottles on the kitchen counter – because William will have his wicked way with them.
    • The biggest danger on the streets is accidentally walking in the bike lanes (which may well be on the sidewalk and may just be indicated by a different brick than that used for the sidewalk, or just by a stripe along the bike lane).  If the bike lane is in the street, and you’re in the habit of standing just off the curb to wait for the light to turn green, you could get run over by a bike.  Fortunately, most bikers are alert and skillful and are no more interested in running into you that you are in being run into, so you’ll most likely survive unscathed.  But there’s always the odd biker who’s texting while he’s riding and may not see you.

IT SEEMS SO SIMPLE, AND YET…..

The object is to fill the cup, not to empty the teapot.  I’ll admit that, on some occasions, you can accomplish both simultaneously, but when that is not the case, the ‘filling the cup’ should take precedence.  This seems like a simple concept, but after almost 45 years, I’ve been unable to persuade my beloved of its efficacy.  There is a trail of little spots of tea, from the kitchen to the living room, attesting to his total rejection of this concept, as he brings in our overflowing cups of tea.  My Cherokee forebears had their Trail of Tears; I have my Trail of Tea.  Fortunately, our floors are knotty pine (although I rather prefer the idea of ‘naughty pine’), therefore hiding a multitude of sins.  In fact, these floors have another feature, as discovered by one of our guests—if you look carefully, you can see an array of interesting faces in the floor, where the knots in the pine supply the eyes and the grain of the wood makes up the other features.

DUNKELRESTAURANT

 A few days ago we went to Legoland with the grandkids.  We were given a coupon for the ‘Dunkelrestaurant’ – which means ‘Dark Restaurant.’  The food is served in total darkness; the folks who wait on the tables are all blind (or severely sight-impaired).  It’s certainly an interesting concept.  One of our friends said she knew some folks who had gone and, oddly enough, when they left the restaurant, their clothes were covered with food.  I have a hard enough time not looking like that in a fully-lit restaurant, so I can only imagine how much worse it would be if I had to eat in the total dark.  Apparently by way of inducing you to dine at this restaurant, the coupon mentioned the famous folks who had eaten there, for example, Matt Damon.  At first that seems like a draw, doesn’t it?  Upon further reflection, given that the whole place in is total darkness, exactly how would you know a famous person was even there?  Think we’re gonna pass on this one!

HELPFUL HINTS

I always love the ‘helpful’ hints I get when I’m texting.  Today I was trying to type ‘pillow’ – as always, my device offers options after it thinks it has enough letters to make an intelligent suggestion.  Wanna guess what it suggested after ‘pill’?  Pillory!  Well, yeah!  That’s a word most folks use almost every day when they’re texting, right?

I’M SURE THERE’S A PERFECTLY LOGICAL EXPLANATION…..

Like, maybe he’s taking them to somebody who needs them – but nonetheless, seeing a perfectly able-bodied guy walking down the street carrying a pair of crutches is a peculiar sight.

RAISINS AND OLIVES

Berlin has a significant Turkish population, which is a wonderful thing, given all the marvelous food that might not otherwise be available here.  And even foods we know come in greater varieties than would otherwise be the case.  Take raisins, for example.  How many times have you bought raisins labeled as ‘seedless’ and never even considered the importance of that information?  Indeed, you may have thought it was totally superfluous because you didn’t know that raisins could even have seeds.  Well, apparently there ARE such things as raisins with seeds, which we somehow managed to buy.  Given that raisins are small, raisin seeds are likewise small – a little bigger than a grain of sand – and that’s exactly the sensation you get when you eat raisins with seeds in them!  So, from now on, we’re going to pay better attention to the labels.  The other thing we’ve discovered is fresh olives.  Bet you never even gave a thought to this concept, did you?  What might olives taste like if they hadn’t been stored in brine for God only knows how long?  DELICIOUS!!  So, if you ever have a chance to try them, don’t pass it by.  In fact, as it turns out, one our friend who hates olives was game enough to try a fresh one, and loved it!  The difference between fresh olives and regular olives is pretty much as drastic as the difference between fresh asparagus and canned asparagus – absolutely no comparison!

ODE TO MY KINDLE

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways!  I’ve always loved my Kindle for a number of reasons:  (1) War and Peace doesn’t weigh any more than The Little Prince; (2) No matter how many books you have on it, it never weighs more than a few ounces and you can still fit it in a large coat pocket (which solves a big problem when traveling);  (3) The print is never too small to read; and (4) You’re never without something to read because you can shop any day, any time, and get your book instantly, without so much as getting out of bed.  Today I was reminded of yet another reason – it won’t let you buy a book you already own, even if you’ve already read it and have totally forgotten it!  Things like this are very important to those of us with Sometimer’s Disease![3]

PEE-DAR

William, the Wonder Cat, is not nearly so readily affectionate as his sainted predecessor, Tsali.  Tsali was like a rag doll (not to be confused with the feline breed known as the Rag Doll) in the sense that you could pick him up almost anytime, anywhere, and put him in your lap and pet him pretty much as long as you liked.  William isn’t like that.  He’s affectionate, but in his own way.  First, while you could pet Tsali anyplace on his body, William only has one ‘pet zone’ – his head—and if you try to pet him anywhere else, he’ll generally shirk away from your hand.   Second, he has to be in the mood (whereas Tsali was virtually always in the mood), which he will indicate by coming to you.  If either of us lies down on the sofa, or the bed, he’ll often come and lie down on us (but that, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that you can pet him).  Sometime’s he’ll come butt his head on your ankles when he wants his face rubbed.  He’ll frequently climb up on Harvey’s lap while he’s at his computer, although he’ll rarely do that with me (probably because he doesn’t want to share my lap with my belly).  And, on the rare occasion—generally while you’re lying down—he’ll climb up somewhere between your belly and your chest and let you scratch his face (but only for a brief while).  Needless to say, I treasure these occasions and am disinclined to decline them.   (If the truth be told, I’m virtually desperate for these occasions!)  So, how does the little bugger know when my bladder is full?  He’s got to have pee-dar!  I’ll be lying abed in the morning, trying to ignore the demands of my bladder for just another moment, and truly, the time when William chooses to walk his 15-pound body across my bladder en route to my chest is that tiny window after I finally have made the decision that I can’t wait a second longer to get up but before I have engaged my body in acting upon that decision!  These moments of affection are typically short (which, under other circumstances, I regret), so I just grit my teeth and instruct my poor bladder to give me a few more moments so I can bask in this ever-so-rare and fleeting moment of bliss.

SOMETHING YOU WON’T SEE IN THE US

This is something you’ll never see in the Land of Litigation – folks would be too worried about getting sued if someone hurt himself.

http://www.dump.com/walkingdownstairs/

MOTHER NATURE’S APRIL FOOL’S DAY TRICK

For the past couple of weeks, it’s clearly been Spring.  You can imagine my surprise, then, to look out the window on Sunday (April 1) to see snow!!  That day presented a veritable cornucopia of weather – snow (accompanied by thunder); sleet; strong winds – with bright, sunny, clear skies (and temps in the high 50s) in between all of this.  Truly weather worthy of West Texas, where, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute – it will change.


[1] ‘Bezirk’ is German for ‘neighborhood.’

[2] And here, Word Spell Check wants me to type ‘Arctic cat’ – which, I’ll grant you, would be far more entertaining.

[3] That’s when you get to the stage in life where sometimes you remember stuff, and sometimes you don’t.

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