Career Choices

Yesterday was the last day of school here, so I got to review the report cards that my 4 nieces and nephews brought home. They were quite o.k.; I was especially impressed by the “B” that my oldest niece received in Latin. Quite impressive.

My self-appointed “substitute child”, Michael, took some time to sit on the porch and have a lengthy chat with me. (It made me notice that now they all have summer vacation, not a single one of the four knew what to do with themselves at first).

After suggesting a whole bunch of things one can do in the course of a six week summer vacation, none of which was completely acceptable to Michael, I decided to change the subject and ask him what he was planning to be when he grows up (he has just finished second grade).

He wants to be a gardener. But then again, he is not quite sure, he said, because then he would need lots of money to buy seeds to make new plants and flowers.

My opinion is another. The way he haggles and bargains about everything (he tried to sell his old, used pen and pencil case to his grandfather for 5 Euros yesterday), my bet is that he will someday complete his Master in Business Administration.

We’ll see.

Lunch with Ms. Mac!

Yup. Got on the Kiwi this morning at 9.00 a.m. and headed for Lake Constance, where I crossed the border into Austria and shortly thereafter, into Switzerland.

I would love to continue by saying that we met in the lovely town of St. Margrethen, but I cannot. Oh, we did meet, but the town is somewhat unusual.

Ms. Mac and I met at a parking place, as planned. We had both assumed it would be a parking lot and were both pleasantly surprised that it was an underground garage, providing us both with a bit of “cool” air as the summer heat returned to this region today with a roar.

Let me start by saying that Ms. Mac is even more gorgeous in person than she is on her blog, a radiant woman exhuding lots of humour, common sense, intelligence and just lots of fun to be around.

Our initial plan was to walk about town a bit, finding the “Altstadt” (german for old part of town – usually meaning hundreds if not more years).

It felt to me like 35C in the shade and we began walking around town. There was little shade anywhere, and eventually we saw a large old church up on a hill. Deciding this must be the center of the “Altstadt” as it is in most towns, we proceeded up. Through steep little winding paths that took us between people’s houses. After a short break to catch our breath, a futile effort to cool down and stop sweating, we thought we had reached the church but there was a fence between us and the church and no way to get around it other than go around a block of houses. The church was surrounded by suburban style homes, no sign of an Altstadt anywhere (though we did find the town’s small school).

We decided to return to the Bahnhof (train station) area and did manage to find someplace to eat.

We had a lovely lunch together at the Hotel Ochsen. The Wurstsalad (ok. – this is going to sound weird) sausage and cheese salad was ok, but the Bavarian version (oil and vinegar and not mayonnaise) would have been better. Accompanied by two alcohol-free beers (as we were both driving) which quenched our thirst.

And followed by two hours of talking about this and that, boys and Australia and fishing and motorcyles and Moms and villages and life in general.

I had a wonderful time with Ms.Mac. Absolutely wonderful.

Her gift of Swiss beer and Swiss chocolate was wonderful. Amazingly, the chocolate did not melt on the way home. I have placed both of them in fridge and will report on them tomorrow.

Can’t wait to repeat this meeting. Thanks, Ms. Mac!!!!!

Yesterday was a Multitude

of news and memories. My “little” brother turned 33 and announced that in about 36 weeks, he was becoming a dad. That email got me awake 😉 I am thrilled!

Mom’s gonna be a grandma. That’s a lovely thought. Her mother was the most wonderful grandma anyone could just imagine having, and it will be nice to see her have a go at it.

A year ago yesterday, Pauli crept away to die silently. I never did find her and can’t imagine where she might have crept off to. I miss her still.

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I spent a majority of the day yesterday translating legal documents. It kinda fried my brain after a while, so at 4:30 I quit, popped down to the tire guy to pick up the front and rear Kiwi wheels which have been adorned with a brand new pair of Bridgestone tires. After remounting the rear wheel I had to stop because it started to rain again. 20 minutes later I went back out with the tools and remounted the front tire. I took her for a test drive to make sure everything was installed properly, and returned home just in time for it to start raining again.

I am starting to look for instructions on how to build an arch.

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Tomorrow I am taking the majority of the day off because there is something very special planned. I won’t tell ahead of time but look for an interesting post tomorrow with lots of pictures!

Population 9,900

has our little town. Not much, but then again, I like it that way. One of the big disadvantages though, is that to get “special” or “unusual” types of grocery items, I need to leave town.

So I took the Kiwi to Starnberg yesterday, where there is a huge Tengelmann (large german grocery chain).

To buy steak sauce.

Sounds ridiculous, I know, but my fear of having a great steak in front of me with no good English Steak Sauce to accompany it is almost equal to my fear of not having any beer left in the house 😉

And thus, I bought two bottles of HP Steak Sauce, one normal and one “fruity”. Both are quite good. Excellent, in fact.

I took the opportunity of being in this huge store to buy a pack of flour tortillas, as I think I haven’t made tacos all summer. Mentally reminded myself to make another 8 gallons of salsa to freeze, as I am all out. Luckily, I have an entire stash of home grown jalapenos in the freezer.

Now I just need to find the marketing genius or whoever is responsible for the pricing on these types of items so that I can slap them.

8 Flour Tortillas: 2,99 €. (That’s 3.60 USD). Don’t know whether to cry or scream, really.

Happy Birthday!

To a wonderful person whom I have surely given more than her fair of grief, worry, wondrous moments and without whom there would be no me: My Mom. I am not posting a picture of her because she wouldn’t like it. In order to give you some idea though, I will tell you that throughout my life, people have thought she was my sister.

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It has been the week from hell, to say the least. I have had lots of work (which is good of course). On Wednesday, while doing an FTP upload of an update to a brand new client’s website, my computer kept crashing. Big time. Nasty ol’ XP crash. The kind where the mouse just freezes suddenly and the only thing you can do is pull the plug.

After spending three hours on something which is usually accomplished in five minutes, I called my hosting company, thinking they were having server problems. Nope.
Turned out to be the Windows XP Firewall. Why have I not encountered this problem in the past? Because the WF updates itself constantly and apparently loaded some sort of update to itself that kept completely freezing up the computer in the middle of the upload.
The support call only cost 10 €. :-(((
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I almost managed to break my “e” today. And my “E”.
I guess I was a bit too high-spirited while vacumming (in one of those “thorough” moods, you might say) and decided to vacuum the keyboard of my Acer laptop. Boing. E-Button was off. I guess I should be glad that it didn’t get sucked into the vacuum. I despise having to search the contents of my vacuum bag for things, yuck. Though I have done so quite often in the past. Just some of the things I have accidentally “vacuumed in” recently include: a self-knitted sock, a fake mouse toy from the cat, two rings from the living room table, a number 8 nut and bolt from the Kiwi.

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Has anyone else noticed that other bloggers are posting rarely or not at all lately?
Could this be the Harry Potter phenomenon?

First Impressions

don’t always count. As proven again last week, when we were down by the river with Tobi.

After his obligatory swim across the river and back, he bounded up the side of the dam, saw two dogs on a road on the other side of the field in front of us and took off running. I was a bit surprised because he usually does not take off.

We ran after him, he “said hello” to the two dogs which were being accompanied by a young woman on a bicycle. As one of the dogs was a female, a bit of jealousy ensued followed by Tobi and the other male dog growling at one another, as dogs tend to do.

By this time, the young woman was leaving and another man on a bicycle approached, stopped and said “you should have the dog on a leash out here”.

There isn’t a sentence in the world that makes my blood boil more quickly than that one.

If I am in town with Tobi, he is on a leash. Out in the boondocks, there is absolutely no reason to. He doesn’t run away, hasn’t a trace of a hunting instinct and is generally well-behaved.

I asked the man why he thought so. His reply was that the farmers were surely not happy about the fact that dogs were running loose out there and pooping in their fields. I explained to him that not only is Tobi not allowed to go into the fields (and he knows this and stays on the dirt roads), but that when Tobi needs to “go”, he does so on the very edge of the grass.

His reply was along the lines of “when you speak to dog owners, their dogs are always well-behaved”. He glanced at us with a mixture of doubt and slight distaste. And proceeded to let us know that he was from the Government Nature Conservation Agency.

That got our ears up. Finally a chance to talk to someone about some of the rare birds we have seen. We told him about the red kite which flew over our town some time ago (see this post); he told us there were 3-4 breeding couples in the area along the river. He explained about various types of eagles which, inspite of not being native to the area, are sometimes sighted nevertheless. We spoke about the tragic disappearance of ravens since the 1930’s and he told us with much delight that meanwhile there was an entire colony near Murnau, a picturesque town some 30 km from here.

It was a wonderful conversation, in the course of which, his impression of us did a 180° turn. By the time we finished talking about various renaturation efforts and their results and said our goodbyes, he smiled a big, friendly smile and rode off.

I Had Made A Firm Resolve Over The Weekend

to stop smoking today. Naturally, I have decided to postpone that event. What a wuss I am.

The problem is, that I truly enjoy smoking, and have been doing so since I was 16. Being fully aware that smoking is extremely bad for your health, makes your teeth yellow, makes your house stink, and costs a bunch of money to boot, doesn’t help. I am a hopeless nicotine addict.

I managed to stop for over three months with the help of nicotine patches in 1993. When my marriage hit bottom and I called my best friend Laura to come over because I needed someone to talk to, I told her to bring cigarettes. That was the end of that.

When I was in the hospital last year, I managed to not smoke for two days (surgery day and the day following). Then, I would go out and about to smoke one or two a day. At the end of my stay, the number had increased, of course.

I just need to work a bit more on the inner motivation.

I have decided to make a list of reasons why I don’t want to smoke anymore, print them out in 16 point font and hang them over my desk where see them constantly.

Might be a first step.

Meanwhile, I am 77km Shy

of the 4.000 mark with my “little” Kiwi since passing the driving test on May 24.

We have calculated that this distance is the same as had I driven to Moscow and back, or to Palermo and back or to Stockholm and back (with a few km to spare).

Yesterday’s tour, which we have been planning for weeks and which had been preempted more than once due to weather and other factors, took us into the Karwendelgebirge in Tirol, Austria, a mountain range of such beauty, that at times I was truly humbled by the granite massifs surrounding me. A good 80 km of the tour was on a very small road, with a speed limit of 60 kmh, allowing us to concentrate less on the road and more on the scenery. The route was ideal for a motorcycle tour – you see so much more than you would sitting in a car. Your senses, touch, smell, etc. are constantly being teased by various things: the sudden smell of cut hay, the quick change in temperature when you drive into a shady piece of woods, the overwhelming smell of the water by the lake. Heavenly.

Here are some pictures:

Perhaps We Are Just Too Well Off In This Corner (Hemisphere) of the World

is what I am thinking. Hit me if I’ve offended you with that comment but sometimes I truly believe it is so.

Here a few examples from the weekly sales flyer of my local discount supermarket.

Wickerbasket, Handcrafted, 4,99 €. Very pretty. But think about it. If someone hand-crafted this, they might have received a single Euro for it, if that much at all. Now think about that hourly wage.

Electrical Insect Catcher (looks like a small tennis racket) 4,99 €. Used to kill flying insects through the use of electrical current. Touted as ecologically sound, as there are no poisons used. What isn’t said is that these types of gadgets should not be used outdoors as then 90% of the insects killed are useful ones. Either way, perfectly useless.

Digitalcamera, 6 megapixel, 199,- €. Ok, let me immediately run out and throw mine away and buy this one since it’s better.

Salt and Pepper Mill, acrylic, 7,99 € per set.

And on, and on and on.

What a waste of the earth’s resources. There is so much junk being produced in the world, largely crap that no one needs, not really, when they think about it. People in other parts of the world don’t have enough resources to feed themselves properly but we are obsessed with the newest salt and pepper shakers and let’s get that new digital camera and honey, we can throw out the old ……………. and so on and so forth.