Monday, March 22, 2010

& now what?

One of my current favourite German words is die Puppenecke - the dolls' corner - with 'Puppen' being dolls and 'Ecke' being corner. Mads and I had fun the other day coming up with other types of 'ecke's, like, the corner where all the snails hung out would be die schneckenecke. that was the only one we came up with. But I still like it.

My favourite Ecke in the flat recently has been the cane chair by the window where I've been working on the blanket for my unborn niecephew. It's a light, sunny spot to work, close to the teeve and the cd player. I've spent some very pleasant - between-drafts time in this corner, working away, listening to music or watching DVDs (Madmen, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad).

Then on Saturday I finished the blanket and I feel a little lost. I can't really justify watching tv without a project to work on. It doesn't seem right. Besides, there is a new book to start work on and there will be revisions to the teen novel too very soon. Looks like the days of the sunny corner might be over for now at least.

p.s. cushions by Auntie Cookie.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Toothy Car

It was a sunny 15 degrees today in Frankfurt and we were sweltering. A perfect day for grabbing the camera and taking photographs of strange things. The van in the photo above was by far the strangest thing I saw. It's so weird and somehow menacing. In my eagerness to photograph it I forgot to pay any attention to what it was actually advertising, and now I can only wonder. Mobile dentist perhaps? Because I can be a bit thick I was actually marvelling at how amazing it was that the smile had so perfectly lined up with the rest of the face when the van had stopped. I literally only realised ten minutes ago that, of course, the mouth probably doesn't spin around at all. I wish that it did though. How cool it would be to see those gleaming white teeth rotating endlessly.

My other favourite sighting of the day was this:

because I've always been partial to a bit of texta-facial hair action and because from a distance it looked so real that I did, just for a moment, think it was really a bearded lady.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


In Germany there seems to be a festival for things I've never considered celebrating before (the arrival of asparagus, for instance) and there is a word to describe concepts or phenomena I've never experienced before.

At a friend's house for dinner on Saturday night Thieu mentioned he tired a lot lately, and low in energy. I pointed out that Mads has been the same - she even went back to being a schlafen kind at kindergarten after not having a nap there for months.

'That's because of Frühlingsmüdekeit,' said our friend. 'Haven't you noticed everyone going on about it?' Well no, we hadn't. Apparently feeling exhausted and lethargic is a common complaint at this time of year. Your seratonin levels are low after a few months of low sunlight and, traditionally, a lack of fresh fruit and vegetables (although of course now everything is just imported. I bought strawberries just last week). Frühlingsmüdekeit basically means 'spring tiredness'.

'You need to exercise,' said our friend. And so, on Monday I went to Aldi, having been tipped off that they were selling rollerblades this week. Ah Aldi. Remember how the Faraway Tree is always growing different fruit everytime it's visited? Aldi reminds me of that. One week it's selling trumpets. The next it's unicycles. Then car radios. And you find yourself grabbing things you never knew existed but suddenly must, must have. You have to be prepared to brave the fearsome old ladies who ram you with their shopping trolleys if they think you've taken more than your fairshare of rainpants (another Aldi speciality) but it's worth it.

Mads was thrilled with the rollerblades. We headed down to the park after kindy yesterday so she could bask in the envy of other children. Simulataneoulsy I stumbled across another cure for Frühlingsmüde - laughing at your kid as she learns to rollerblade.

(Luckily Aldi was also selling knee, wrist and elbow pads).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Something to Chew On

There are two things that I continually do which by this stage in my life I should have learned not to do. One is tell Mads about play-dates in advance (because she's so, like, devo when they fall through)and the other is to get overly excited about an up-coming event.

Our trip to London last weekend was kind of a disaster. We didn't even take any pictures because the whole thing was mostly traumatising. There were good things about it, of course - catching up with friends, mostly understanding stuff on the TV - but there were a whole lot of things that weren't so good. Missing our flight from Frankfurt for one. We decided to be super-smart and take only hand-luggage which we figured meant that we wouldn't have to be at the airport quite so early. Clearly we were too cocky because when we arrived at the gate it had close 5 minutes before and they wouldn't let us on. Oh bother, as Mads would say.

So then we had to buy new tickets (for a a lot more than the original price) and endure a lecture from the Lufthansa rep on making sure we arrived two hours before an international flight. Afterwards it dawned on us that if we'd checked in luggage they would've been much less likely to take off without paging us. Shtoopid.

Then it started to snow. Heavily.
Then the flight was delayed.
Then they made us board and sit in the plane for an hour and a half before taking off.
Then there was the hot stinky tube ride into the British museum where our friend had been waiting for us for two hours.
And that was just Saturday. One Sunday there was my near-death experience.

The previous weekend's hilarious near death experience was almost being hit by flying roof tiles as we went sight-seeing in Strasbourg (during a cyclone - yes, smart). This weekend it was near-death by choking. I met up with an old work friend who is living in London and we decided to get all Englishy and have a roast lunch and a cider. And it was all going well until a piece of beef became firmly lodged in my throat. Gaspingly, blue-in-the-face lodged. I think it's the closest I've ever come to actually dying and all I could think while it was happening was; 'this is so humiliating.' I just knew that it would taint everyone's sympathy for my passing because of the comic way I'd departed. People might not laugh at first, but after a little while it'd be 'Oh yeah Meredith. She's the one who choked to death on a Sunday roast. Ha ha.' Too, too embarassing.

Somehow I managed to force the bit down and I am seriously considering a return to committed vegetarianism. Either that or a baby food only diet.

On the whole I was happy to return - alive - to Frankfurt, where I have continued working on the blanket I'm making for my sister's unborn child. Crochet is my daggy secret - it has none of the urban-cool of knitting - but as I am now nearly 40 now I don't really care so much. In fact, I'm nearly at the stage where I'm prepared to crochet in public. Nearly, but not quite. I have finally finished the squares and am in the process of joining them up and sewing in the loose threads. I have totally ripped off the design and colour scheme from here although I added green to the middle and I'm joining the squares up with caramel because I aint no copy-cat OK? (Now I think about it white would've probably been a better joining choice than a baby-poo colour but perhaps this will end up being a good thing).

My blanket won't look nearly as neat and professional as the Bee Handmade one as I am a terrible corner-cutter and I also can't count which is kind of important with this sort of thing and means that some of my squares are a little wonky. But as a project-abandoner from way back I'm proud of myself at having stuck at it.

So this week my plan is to finish the blanket. And remember to chew.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Haupt Bahnhof

What do you want to hear about? There was the whole Faschings Carnival thing a couple of weeks ago, where the locals went bezerk and dressed up (the adults more than the children) as pumpkins, lone rangers, clowns, sexy she-devils etc and paraded through the streets throwing lollies at the crowd. Thieu had made himself a very tall crown to wear to the main parade which the lollies kept landing in. Mads was mortified by the crown and told him that perhaps he should just leave it at home. Which of course Thieu didn't. And the success with catching the lollies in it has him already making plans for next year's hat which will be shaped like a satellite dish.

And then there was our spontaneous trip to Strasbourg last weekend where we woke up and said 'yeah, let's go to France' and were there in time for baguette avec fromage at lunchtime. We walked around admiring the lovely old buildings constructing sentences in our new hybrid French-German language (Frerman) and then narrowly avoided decapitation when the strong winds started blowing the roof tiles off the lovely old roofs.

There's also our upcoming visit to London this weekend which I am so, so looking forward to - I'm tired of my muteness and looking forward to catching up with some friends.

But I don't know if I can be bothered writing about any of these things. I've got mid-book laziness and don't feel like writing much at all.

The photo above is from a current advertising campaign and translates as (or so google translate tells me) 'What now, dear parents?' I've seen it around a lot but this one was spotted at the main train station - Haupt Bahnhof - before we boarded the inter-city to Strazzers.

The other thing that we always visit at the 'hof is the model railway. Mads is fascinated by it:

It's very detailed. In fact, I'd visited it a few times before I noticed one particular detail on the wall around the miniature playground:

I pointed it out to Thieu.
'A swear word,' I said. 'In a model train diorama.'
'I don't know why you're so surprised,' he said. 'That newsagency over there has a range of crack pipes on display in its front window.'

To finish, here's a picture of Mads looking through a round thing in Strasbourg. Our dad used to like photographing us examining leaves. Maybe he was hoping to turn us into botanists. I like photographing Mads looking through round things. Not sure why.