Another difference….

 In the US, the defining national holiday is July 4th, where we celebrate breaking away from England.  Here, the defining national holiday is October 3, Einheit (or Re-Unification Day), to celebrate two pieces of the country coming back together again.  So, Happy Einheit!!

 Well, we thought we had a solution….

Until recently, we had two cats – the Dowager Princess, Ms. Electra, and His Hugeness, Master William.  Alas, we had to release Ms. Electra to those Great Catnip Fields in the Sky, owing to various indignities caused by advanced age.   [For more info on Ms. Electra, see her obituary in an earlier post.]  Over time, since we retired and are home all day, the frequency of feeding increased from a mere twice a day (sometimes augmented by a bedtime snack) to a ridiculous 6 times a day – breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, dinner, and bedtime snack (sometimes augmented by an extra snack, if Ms. Electra’s pleadings were sufficiently piteous).  It was also Ms. Electra’s habit to rush to the kitchen any time either one of us dared to cross that threshold, whereupon she would carry on as if it had been at least a fortnight since her last meal.  Her pleadings were most convincing and it was not unusual for her to get, say, a second second breakfast out of one of us, who was totally unaware that the other had fed her merely seconds earlier.  We came up with a solution to this problem by creating a feeding checklist and whenever either of us fed the cats, we would put a check by that meal.  During Ms. Electra’s tenure, Master William was never particularly insistent about his meals (although he exhibited great eagerness to consume them whenever offered).  Clearly, he felt no need to exert himself if Electra would do it for him.  Now that he can no longer ride on her coattails in this matter, he has become equally insistent of his meals – and equally sneaky by tricking one of us into repeating a meal that the other has already given him.  So, we continue to keep the checklist.  There is only one flaw in this solution, which is that, owing to our own advanced age, we sometimes forget to check off the meal we’ve just offered.  Sigh….

It’s the little things….

 In this day and age of globalization, and when so many things are ubiquitous (at least among the more technologically advanced nations), it’s surprising that some small, odd things are so radically different.  In the US, virtually every bathroom comes with a toilet paper holder, typically located conveniently near the toilet.  It doesn’t matter if the wall to which it’s affixed is drywall or tile.  If it’s drywall, the holder is screwed to the wall; if it’s tile, the holder is typically ceramic and incorporated into the tile wall.  That’s not the case in Berlin.  Most bathrooms have tile walls that are at least shoulder-high.  (And even if the walls weren’t tile, many of the walls are composed of God-only-knows what.  It’s not simply drywall, which, in fact, seems to be rare.  Often the walls are plaster.  And it’s not even that simple, because some parts of walls are different from other parts; just because you can drive a nail or screw into one part of the wall, you shouldn’t expect to be able to do the same thing on the entire wall – which makes it devilishly difficult to arrange your artwork as you like.)  OK.  So simply having tile walls shouldn’t make a difference — you’d expect that the toilet paper holders would simply be incorporated into the wall like they are in the US.  Well, uh, no!  And, understandably, leases typically forbid tenants from screwing things into tile walls.  Naturally, there are some stand-alone toilet paper holders, but there’s not always enough room for them and often they’re less that stable and it’s all just annoying.  We have looked high and low for a toilet paper holder that has a suction device to affix to a tile wall.  Clearly, the idea of affixing toilet paper holders to the wall is not something that has gained traction here.  And, of course, purposefully looking is often not the best strategy anyway.  So, yesterday, I went to the department store for one thing and, en route to the Kasse (the place where you pay —  the English word for which escapes me at the moment), I happened across a toilet paper holder with a suction device!  Oh, happy day!!

Mystery solved!

I am a creature of habit.  Most mornings, I get up and do a few basics, like brush my teeth, empty the dishwasher, make some tea, and scoop the litter box.  Then I sit down at my computer and check my e-mail and Facebook.  The next thing I know, it’s noon, and I wonder how on earth it got so late, and why, after doing the mandatory things like cooking breakfast, cleaning up, doing my stretches, and maybe the grocery shopping, followed by cooking dinner and cleaning up, I have no time left to do some of the other things I’d intended to do.  Well, today I solved the mystery.  Apparently, if you spend a minute here watching a video of a dog sucking on a pacifier, and a few minutes there taking some idiotic quiz that’s supposed to reveal where you really should be living, it all adds up and becomes a couple of hours a day. DUH!!


 I am old, which should come as no surprise to you, given the title of my blog.  So, I try to use my time well, as every bit of time wasted is an increasingly large percentage of the time I have left.  For instance, when you’re 20, and you waste a day, you have, say 60 X 365 days left.  But when you’re 70, and you waste a day, you only have 10 X 365 days left.  (Sorry – YOU do the math; I can’t spare the time.)  But, truth be told, I even tried to save time at 20.  It’s a trait I share with my Daddy – it’s the challenge of trying to see how much you can get out of whatever you have.  So, a minute here, a minute there – it all adds up.  I’m not a particularly big fan of multi-tasking, especially when it comes to things like checking your e-mail while in a meeting, because that means you’re not paying full attention and you could miss something important, which could mean that you waste time by messing up something you’re working on because you didn’t get all the information you need.  Or, you realize you’re missing information later and then you have to waste not only your own time, but also someone else’s when you ask them to give you information you should have gotten in the meeting.  However, I’m not totally averse to multi-tasking when it doesn’t have those consequences.  For example, I figured I could use the time I spend swishing my mouthwash around doing something else, like peeing.  [A minute here; a minute there – it all adds up, don’t you think?]  Well, that’s perfectly fine…until you have to sneeze.  And the minute you thought you saved becomes many wasted minutes cleaning up.  So now I use that mouthwash time to put on deodorant — works much better!

How you can tell when you’re getting REALLY old!

 I recently saw on Facebook that one of my younger cousins (a third cousin) was having a hip replacement, and it shocked me, because, of course, he’s just a “kid.”  But then I realized that this “kid” is retired from the military, so he’s not much of a kid, then, is he?  And THEN I realized that, not only am I older than HE is, I am also older than his MOTHER!  And only 12 years younger than his GRANDFATHER!  This age thing just keeps on getting worse and worse!

I have never trusted…

Anyone who eats only half a candy bar and saves it for later.  Who DOES that?  Doesn’t it reveal a serious inability to make a commitment?  And now I have even more reason to loathe such people – because sometimes that half a candy bar they put back into their pocket or purse falls out, onto a seat on the U-bahn, in 90-degree weather.  Fortunately, I saw it before I sat down, but don’t know whether everyone else will or not.  And there’s nothing I could do to clean it up, or even let maintenance folks know about it.  Sigh….

How not to have a boring obituary

 You’d think that getting dressed is a fairly risk-free endeavor, but if you thought that, you’d be wrong.  I almost put both legs into one leg of my shorts this morning.  I was alone at the time, so I wonder what my husband would have thought when he came back home if he had found me dead, with 2 legs in one shorts-leg, because I lost my balance and hit my head on the lavatory.  So you can see why I’m always delighted every day when I wake up to realize that I’ve NOT damned-near killed myself.

Note to self

 If you use an electric/sonic toothbrush, you should really wait to put in your hearing aides until AFTER you’ve brushed your teeth.

Comforts of home

You never realize how much you’ll miss something very mundane until you move to a place where you can’t have it.  We didn’t eat Cream of Wheat (or, as we came to call it “Creamy Wheat”) very often, but there are times when it just always hit the spot.  But we haven’t been able to find it here.  Some foods are simple enough and even have the same name in German, like bananas.  In other cases, you can just look in the dictionary and discover that, say, “bread” is “Brot.”  Other foods are simply obvious – you know a pineapple when you see it.  But Cream of Wheat doesn’t fall into any of those categories.  Imagine my delight and surprise when I came upon “Weizen Greisse” and it dawned on me that maybe this “wheat pudding” might be Cream of Wheat!  These “trial and error” things don’t always turn out like I had hoped, but this time it did!  There are still foods that remain beyond my grasp.  Maybe they have them here, but I’ve not yet figured out the name.  Another thing that makes the problem harder is that you can’t buy almost everything in a single store here.  Some things aren’t marketed the same way.   For instance, in the US, you can find prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, cosmetics, and groceries in one big store.  That’s not the case here, where there are 3 basic types of stores: (1) the Apoteke, where you buy prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines; (2) the Droggorie (which sells make-up, tissues, etc.); and (3) the grocery store, which sells things to eat, cleaning supplies, and paper products.  There’s some overlap, but not much.  Plus, they have lots of smaller stores rather than a few humongous stores, so one grocery store may sell something that another doesn’t, and figuring that out can be a lifetime endeavor.  But for now, I’ve got my Creamy Wheat!


For years, we’ve followed this ritual when watching TV in the evening:

  • Harvey sits in his chair.
  • I sprawl out on the sofa.
  • William, the Wonder Cat, spends the first hour snuggled down in Harvey’s lap.
  • Then, William gets up and comes and snuggles with me.

Alas, after 44 years of faithful service, our sofa has started to sag a bit, and after 73 years of wear-and-tear, my body has become increasingly uncooperative in terms of getting up off the sofa.  In fact, if I did a video for You Tube of me struggling to get up off the sofa, I’m pretty sure it would millions of hits.  Put a drunken turtle on its back and watch it try to roll over, and you’ll get a fair idea.  It’s a really good sofa and we love the design; we’ve not been able to find one even close.  So, Harvey tried to brace it a bit, and that helped, but not enough.  So we went out shopping to find a new sofa, and failed.  But we did find a pair of recliners that were sufficiently compact to fit in our living area.  So now, rather than, lying on the sofa, I lie on my recliner.

Here’s the new routine:

  • Harvey sits in his recliner (which is in the same place as his chair had been).
  • I sit in my recliner (which is in a completely different place than the sofa).
  • William snuggles down in Harvey’s lap for the first hour.
  • Then, he gets up, looks at me in my recliner, thinks, “Nope!” and then goes to the sofa, where he snuggles.

Because cats abhor change as much as Nature abhors a vacuum, William can’t bring himself to spend the 2nd hour anywhere else except the sofa.  Sigh….


Forgiveness is a wonderful thing!  When we first got married, I dreamed that I had caught Harvey with another woman.  I was mad at him for a week – for something he did in my dream.  After 50 years, I’ve now gotten much more forgiving.  Last night I dreamed that I had gone missing – I’d gotten lost and didn’t have my wallet or my phone with me, so I couldn’t take a taxi or call for help.  Harvey went to the police station to ask for help in finding me.  They showed him a price list of the various things that they could do to find me.  The things that he could afford weren’t very effective; the things that might be effective were far too expensive.  So, he couldn’t see the point in spending even a little bit of money for something that wouldn’t work anyway; and he couldn’t afford the things that might work, so he just went home and hoped for the best.  And, indeed, I ultimately made my way home.  But it only took me a few minutes to forgive him after I woke up.