Thursday, December 21, 2006

A trip to Beaverton

The trouble all started when we didn't get our reserved seat in the airplane. This wouldn't have been such a big deal if we hadn't been travelling with a baby. You see, I'd called and reserved the seats with the baby basinette in the plane for us, and somehow they put us in a middle row with no basinette in sight, meaning we'd have to hold the baby for the entire flight. Anyway, the situation got resolved, but not before the head steward offered us the option of staying in Frankfurt and even told us "I don't want trouble for the next nine hours." I guess he meant from us, but it would have likely been from other passengers had we not gotten the right seats, because there would have been nine hours of screaming baby to listen to.

Anyway, we got to Detroit, and I suppose as punishment for bad behavior in Frankfurt, the airline lost one of our bags. The biggest one, full of treats for my family. After their service helpline proved entirely useless, they finally delivered the bag the evening after our arrival. The treats were smashed.

Up to our arrival in Beaverton, things were uneventful. We purchased drinks at the local shop, only to discover that they tasted okay, but were a bit flat. I had a look at the bottle: "Best if used by: Oct. 21 2006" No wonder they weren't the freshest.

Then we went to the supermarket to pick up some things for dinner. The jalapeno peppers were unusually expensive, and my travel companion said "Let's go to another store then!" I had to laugh as I reported that this was the only store in Beaverton.

And yesterday I had to get crazed with jealousy as I found a youthful salesgirl in a santa hat flirtatiously trying to sell my friendly travel companion some sweaters. Okay, so it is extremely unusual to come across a handsome, thin, blonde, leather-pants-wearing German in the Midland Mall, but come on, he was also pushing a stroller! Calm down, girls!

Finally, a funny thing happened when I purchased some trousers yesterday. At least I thought they were trousers. When I went to pay, I asked the cashier to tell me what the price was when she scanned them, because they were on a sale rack. My exact words were, "Can you tell me how much the trousers ring up when you scan them?" She stopped working, looked at me like I was from outer space, and I knew I had confused her. So I corrected myself and said, "The pants! How much are the pants?" And then she understood. So, for all you skeptics out there, Americans really don't understand British English.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Chinese food is great, German Chinese food is even greater.

A discussion in class the other day about the advantages and disadvantages of various Chinese restaurants got me fired up on this topic. At some restaurants you get a free soup during the lunch hour, at others they drown the food in garlic. At some your vegetarian dish mysteriously contains chicken, at others your friends have gotten ill. I have a favorite Chinese restaurant in the United States, it's Pi's Chinese, and it's already on my list of places to go when we leave the country for Christmas. But back to the subject of German Chinese, my favorite place here would have to be

And they aren't just my favorite because of the funny name, which in English graphically refers to a certain part of the male anatomy, but because they have really good food at decent prices. Plus, when you order chopsticks with your meal there, they serve your food with a bowl, which is authentically Chinese, according to my China-visiting sources. So they get four stars not only for good food, but also for a funny name and authenticity.

Incredibly enough, a short while ago I came across yet another Dresden Chinese restaurant with a name referring to a particular male body part in English, and I don't mean the word "Onkel" (that means "uncle").

To add to the comedy of the name of this restaurant is its location. It's not located on any old anonymous corner, it's on the corner next to the erotic pharmacy.

With this post I really don't want to poke fun at the Chinese, or any other Asians, and their names. Admittedly some of our terms in American English can be a bit ridiculous and simple-minded, but sometimes even simple-minded things can brighten your day.

I hope they do! It would serve us right.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Having a kid is no reason to look sloppy

I was reminded that I wanted to post this as I went into the supermarket yesterday evening and noticed that the bakery personnel now have very hip sweatshirts that say the name of bakery across the front in subtle orange script on a white background. I must apologize, because this fashion could very well come from the United States. Previously, the same bakery personnel wore decent smocks, an article I would much rather see on the people baking my bread.

It's incredible to me that so many women whom I saw walking around this spring and summer who were pregnant at the same time as me in tight, belly-accentuating and/or -baring tank tops are now sporting baggy, tent-like articles of clothing now that the belly is gone and the contents is lying in a stroller. Not that my way is the right way, but I opted for the tents while I was pregnant and got back into normal clothes ASAP. That's not the easiest thing in the world, considering that after the baby comes, you're by far not yet your old self again. I'm still not quite my old self after over five months. But I found it did a lot for my mood and self confidence to look presentable when I left the house, rather than camouflage my unbathed, bedraggled self in loose-fitting garb and a baseball cap. And even more, it helped me to feel good (and probably this is all in my head) to think "Here I am with a tiny baby and still I can manage to take care of myself too! I have myself together!" Or it least it looks that way, even if it isn't always the case...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tastes like my favorite sausage?!?

The above advertising poster has been irritating me for a good while. Better said, I hate it with a passion. Maybe it's just my vegetarian sensibility talking here, but I think even if I ate meat I would be incredibly annoyed by the use of a sausage as a phallic symbol. Does every heterosexual woman, or any other person attracted to men, get excited when she or he eats a sausage? Or does she or he think of eating sausage when kissing a man? Even as a vegetarian, I eat non-meat sausages composed of tofu and other things that have that approximate shape, like carrots and cucumbers, and at least for myself, I can give a resounding "no" to answer that question. Perhaps it's just a question of taste, and my taste says this whole campaign is disgusting.

Here's yet another example of this ad campaign. Maybe, just maybe, these ads are made to appeal to straight men. Should they think that if they should have the luck of bringing a woman home, all they need to do is serve her up some shrink-wrapped trash from the supermarket and she's all his for the night? With all of its suggestive imagery and text, I find this incredibly offensive.

Fitting to the simplicity of the actual campaign, I came across a parody of these ads the other day on a walk about town. From the looks of it, it was made by an art student, and though it's not terribly inventive and the layout could be better, the baseness of it is the perfect answer to those perfectly horrifying Lieblingswurst advertisements. This artist has a statement! And there are some people around here who don't like his or her statement, for all the wrong reasons, I believe. Some of these posters have been destroyed. Was it done by concerned parents who don't want their children's innocent eyes to see a nude portrait? But why? This poster actually has a twofold value: not only is it a lesson in anatomy, but also in vocabulary! It's not just a parody that made me crack up while walking down the street, it's a little act of protest. Good work!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Must have bunny slippers!
A trip to the vet.

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As
she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his
stethoscope and listened to the bird's chest. After a moment or
two, the vet shook his head sadly and said, I'm so sorry, your
Duck has passed away."

The distressed owner wailed, "Are you sure?"

"Yes, I am sure. The duck is dead," he replied.

"How can you be so sure," she protested. "I mean, you haven't
done any testing on him or anything! . He might just be in a
coma or something."

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room, and
returned a few moments later with a black Labrador Retriever.

As the duck's owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his
hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and
sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked at the vet
with sad eyes and shook his head.

The vet patted the dog and took it out, and returned a few
moments later with a cat. The cat jumped up on the table and
also sniffed delicately at the bird from head to foot. The cat
sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and
strolled out of the room.

The vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry, but as I said,
this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck."

Then the vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and
produced a bill, which he handed to the woman. The duck's owner,
still in shock, took the bill, "$150! she cried, $150 just to
tell me my duck is dead!!"

The vet shrugged. "I'm sorry. If you'd taken my word for it, the
bill would have been $20, but with the Lab Report and the Cat
Scan, it's now $150.00."

And then somebody came and stole the dead duck. Sounds like taking Garfield to the vet!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"It's too bad she's having a baby, she's so smart."

According to my sources, this declaration was made referring to me. I won't make any statements about the individual who said this particular sentence, because I don't really care to perform any acts of public defamation.

What I want to talk about is how little sense this little cobbled-together bit of the English language makes.

If it's unfortunate when smart people have babies, that would lead me to believe that it's fortunate for people who aren't smart, here we will use the term "dumb", to have babies. So let's just try this out:

"It's so great she's having a baby, she's so dumb."

Wow, what great logic. I really have to hand it to whoever said that sentence above about me, they sure are smart.

In addition, making a statement like "It's too bad she's having a baby, she's so smart" would lead me to believe that the speaker considers baby-havers to be less than intelligent, or in other words, dumb. Maybe this is a long shot, maybe I just have a strange way of understanding things, but does this mean the speaker considers his or her mom to be dumb? I would think so. Now that's pretty mean. It's not just because I love my mom that I say this, but I think she's pretty smart. And not just because she had me. She's witty, she's resourceful, and she has a great understanding of people.

Though you might not need brains to make the baby, you sure need them to bring one up. Wrangling your way through well-meaning advice from all corners and the various opinions of doctors and specialists is no easy task. And it's not like you can just sit around and watch TV all day while your kid just grows up, you need to interact with it, too, so that someday it will become a decent little being who can speak and make it's own decisions. All this all starts already in infancy. I'm only a few months into this new job of mine, and it can already be so stressful that I've nearly broken down a couple times. Maybe I should just stop being so smart and this would be a lot easier.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Monday, September 04, 2006

Jim Beam puked on my burger.

Back when I was still pregnant and my cravings could swing wildly from one end of the flavor spectrum to the other in a matter of seconds, we found one restaurant that was capable of satisfying my cravings for American food: Jim Beam's Bar here in Dresden-Neustadt. They have really good pub food, like giant burgers, piping hot fries, and spicy nachos. They even had a really excellent veggie burger, at least once. It was a big veggie patty, piled high with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, pickles and sauces on the side. One Sunday we returned to Beam's because I had a hankering for yet another of these mouth-watering burgers. Well, what I got was a bun with some cold lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and some sauce. I complained and said this wasn't what I ordered, then demanded to talk to the cook, who was supposedly the brain surgeon who wrote the menu. He should know what he put on his menu, then. He treated me badly, and made some very unappetizing pureed glob of vegetables that he seemed to then throw in a deep fryer, and subsequently on a bun. It looked like vomit. I ate some of it, and the fries, which at least were good. Then I proclaimed a boycott on that crappy place. And that cook is haunting me. I see him just about every time I leave the house, somewhere on the street, and I am always overcome with rage whenever I see him, he was such a jerk. I've now taken to boycotting other places he even sets foot in.

Just this past weekend, I had to boycott yet another place, to which I never should have gone in the first place: Burger King. They too have a veggie burger, and when I have a junk food craving or otherwise need something to eat fast, I like to get this as a value meal with fries and a drink. They denied me my value meal, claiming that the veggie burger is no longer available as a meal, just alone. This at a place where you can't buy a sandwich, or anything else for that matter, without the employees attempting to convince you to get a meal. They denied me my meal, and I denied them my order, continuing on my way hungry and in a rotten mood.

But yesterday we ate at a place at which my boycott would be vetoed even if I tried to apply one:

This place is great. They have excellent homemade Saxon-style food, friendly service, and if one of the menu items is out, they are honest and tell you, rather than trying to pass off something else as what you ordered. The first time we went there, I had the potatoes and herb quark, a delicious kind of cheese which is sort of like a mixture of cream cheese and sour cream. Mmmmm. I wanted this yesterday, but they were busy and it was out. So I ordered a farmer's breakfast, a sort of omelette with potatoes, onions, herbs and bacon. I asked them to leave off the bacon, but unfortunately, I got bacon. They took it back, excused themselves, and a few minutes later I received a freshly-made, bacon-free omelette. And it was delicious! We love the Diechl!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

I love food.

Of course that's completely natural, you need food to live, so you'd better at least like it. But there's more to it than that for me, I love to cook it, I love to look at it, and I love to eat it. Plus, I think the kind of food person you are is important in a relationship. For example, do you like to prepare food for guests? Do you like to spend time at the table, having a long breakfast? Or do you just think that food is just one more thing to waste your time, so you don't bother spending much time on it? Food, along with pets and entertainment, can make or break a relationship, I think. Sure, there are other important things, but cat people and dog people don't mix, just like a person who loves to cut the rug and a person who won't set foot on a dance floor might not be so compatible.

Anyway, last week my love of food was given a great treat: a whole carload of fresh vegetables from the family garden. Not only I was pleased, but the bunnies received a sack full of fresh greens as well.

Been spending most their lives living in a bunny's paradise.

Some of the stuff I wouldn't normally buy, like two red beets, and other stuff was just especially delicious, like the tomatoes and new potatoes, because we all know how much better fresh garden vegetables taste than that flavorless stuff you get at the supermarket. So, I was challenged to prepare these delicious things to the best of their advantage, and wanted to try some new things as well.

First we had our regular tomato salad, using fresh tomatoes and onions, along with some feta cheese, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, oil and vinegar. Then I got creative, setting out on the task of preparing borscht, a delicious Russian soup. This is something I've only had one time in a restaurant, and was unsure if I could replicate the pleasing taste, but using a couple different recipes, I came up with my own special blend.

This isn't my borscht, but this is kind of what it looks like.

So, I chopped up the 2 beets, 5 carrots or so, 4 or 5 new potatoes, an onion, and half a head of cabbage and sauted it all a bit in a big soup pot with a bit of olive oil. Then I threw in a liter and a half of vegetable broth, some salt and pepper, a few tablespoons of vinegar, and a couple of bay leaves. I cooked this all until the vegetables were tender but not mushy, then served it up with some chopped feta cheese on top and a dollop of sour cream. Normally this soup would contain meat, but you know me and my strange ways. The feta cheese is also untraditional, but gives the soup a satisfying kick.

I still had half a giant head of cabbage, and after a bit of research, discovered that coleslaw made from scratch is no brain surgery, so I whipped up a batch of that. All you have to do is chop up the cabbage, grate a handfull of carrots, mix it together and toss it with some vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, and you've got a delicious, though flatulence-inducing, salad!

Even after the soup and the coleslaw, and a somewhat unusual carrot casserole, there were still 2 big bowls of carrots lying around the kitchen, so I looked into making carrot salad. It seems that in Germany, sweet carrot salad is traditional. I've had this before and it's really good, but wanted to be untraditional and found a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey for spicy carrot salad. So I grated about half a kilogram of carrots, and then prepared the sauce. For this, you take 3 tablespoons of oil, heat it up and saute about a couple teaspoons of dry chili flakes, a chopped onion, and 3 cloves of garlic. Then add a couple tablespoons of vinegar, run that all through the food processor, and mix it up with the carrots. I added a bit more oil, because it didn't seem to be coating well, and a bit of salt and sugar, and this made a crazily spicy carrot salad that I ate for 2 meals in a row, it enthused me so much.

We still have a few ears of corn stolen from a field, so today my task is to think of a use for it. I'm considering making sweet corn cake or perhaps scalloped corn, both of which I haven't had in years, if I can find the time.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Cat Came Back

In honor of Garfield's 10th disappearance on one of his many travels around Dresden and its surroundings, let's sing an appropriate English folk song by Harry Miller:

Old Mister Johnson had troubles of his own
He had a yellow cat which wouldn't leave its home;
He tried and he tried to give the cat away,
He gave it to a man goin' far, far away.

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

The man around the corner swore he'd kill the cat on sight,
He loaded up his shotgun with nails and dynamite;
He waited and he waited for the cat to come around,
Ninety seven pieces of the man is all they found.

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

He gave it to a little boy with a dollar note,
Told him for to take it up the river in a boat;
They tied a rope around its neck, it must have weighed a pound
Now they drag the river for a little boy that's drowned.

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

He gave it to a man going up in a balloon,
He told him for to take it to the man in the moon;
The balloon came down about ninety miles away,
Where he is now, well I dare not say.

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

He gave it to a man going way out West,
Told him for to take it to the one he loved the best;
First the train hit the curve, then it jumped the rail,
Not a soul was left behind to tell the gruesome tale.

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

The cat it had some company one night out in the yard,
Someone threw a boot-jack, and they threw it mighty hard;
It caught the cat behind the ear, she thought it rather slight,
When along came a brick-bat and knocked the cat out of sight

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

Away across the ocean they did send the cat at last,
Vessel only out a day and making water fast;
People all began to pray, the boat began to toss,
A great big gust of wind came by and every soul was lost.

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

On a telegraph wire, sparrows sitting in a bunch,
The cat was feeling hungry, thought she'd like 'em for a lunch;
Climbing softly up the pole, and when she reached the top,
Put her foot upon the electric wire, which tied her in a knot.

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

The cat was a possessor of a family of its own,
With seven little kittens till there came a cyclone;
Blew the houses all apart and tossed the cat around,
The air was full of kittens, and not a one was ever found.

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

The atom bomb fell just the other day,
The H-Bomb fell in the very same way;
Russia went, England went, and then the U.S.A.
The human race was finished without a chance to pray.

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.
Away, away, yea, yea, yea

Don't worry, we got him back this time, too. And mom said he only has nine lives!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Strange Rock Formations

Have you ever climbed up a more or less vertical sandstone cliff? Like a fly on the wall? Pressed close to the wall? With fingers and toes in narrow cracks and grooves? Searching and feeling for the next narrow ledge above you? As soon as the left hand has found a new grip, bringing the left foot behind it until the toes feel resistance? Then, after your body weight is supported on the left side, repeating this maneuver with the right hand and foot? Foot by foot, higher and higher up, ten or fifteen yards up, until you reach the top with a bit of space and time to catch your breath? And then, with the same tranquility and care, going up the next vertical cliff? You haven't tried anything like this? I warn the curious. (from "Als ich ein kleiner Junge war" by Erich Kästner, translated by me)

This text
describes the very place, the Schrammsteine, where we were last hiking. No, that's not us in the picture, and fortunately for my mental well-being, we did not attempt anything like what is described in the text. We went up this way:

Also a bit of a trek, but not quite as scary as just climbing a stone wall.

We had lunch and caught our breath up here.

Then I nearly got stuck between some rocks.

On the way down we ogled these climbers.

This was all a couple weeks ago. We had planned to go hiking every weekend, but had to take a break because of the unbearable heat wave. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we can hit the trails again soon!

Whole Lotta Willy

Wanna tell you a story,
'Bout a baby I know
When it comes to cryin',
He steals the show
He ain't exactly quiet,
Ain't exactly small
Four thousand one hundred ninety,
You could say he's got it all!

Never had a baby,
Never had a baby like you!
Doin' all the things,
Doin' all the things you do!
Ain't no fairy story,
Ain't no skin and bone!
But ya give it all ya got,
Weighin' in at not even a stone!

You're a whole lotta baby

You’re a whole lotta baby!
Whole lotta Willy!
Whole lotta Willy!
Whole lotta Willy!
And you're a whole lotta baby!

Oh honey, you can scream,
Scream and cry all night long!
Only one to cry,
Only one to cry on and on!
All through the nighttime,
And right around the clock!
Whoo! To my suprise,
Willy never stops!

Willy’s a whole lotta baby!
Whole lotta baby!
Whole lotta Willy!
Whole lotta Willy!
Whole lotta Willy!
A whole lotta baby!
Yeah! Yeah!


Oh, you're a whole lotta baby!
Oh whole lotta baby!
Oh whole lotta Willy!
Oh whole lotta Willy!
You're a whole lotta Willy!
Whole lotta baby-bay-bay-bay-bay!
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
A whole lotta Willy!
Whole lotta baby!

Oh whole lotta baby!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Do cats hunt cans?

Before being trapped in houses and city apartments, when tabby cats roamed the forests and the streets, marking their domains and fighting amongst themselves like mini tigers, how did they nourish themselves? Beef? Turkey liver? Seafood? Any of these aspic? I think not. They ate mice!

How did cat food manufacturers decide that cats like to eat seafood in gelèe? Or perhaps roast beef? And if they would prefer rare or well done? Nature seems to dictate that cats like their meals raw, like mince, but you don't find mince-flavored cat food, do you? You don't find that, just like you don't find mouse-flavored cat food. Or even bird-flavored cat food, except for chicken or turkey, which is too big for a cat to stalk and kill anyway.

Good things come in small packages, and Garfield got a small package this afternoon. He felt like a real cat today when he received his little box. Upon smelling it he went wild, as a real cat should.

I'm sure you can picture what happened next.

As with the gladiators in ancient Rome, there were spectators to watch this brutal sport. But rather than being bloodthirsty supporters of the violent game, one spectator boycotted the event, and even claimed that the event organizers are "mean" and "cruel". This particular individual must be of the popular opinion that cats are natural canned food eaters who are unable to look after themselves, instead dependent on a third party to open their cans for them. If this were the case, wouldn't cats be long extinct? Anyway, were the creatures that are processed into canned food prepared in a friendlier way than a cat hunting a mouse? Either way they get dismembered and disemboweled and discombobulated. But that's the topic of a whole different blog.

Audience or not, nature took its course.

Should we allow nature to take its course on a grander scale, breeding adorable, fresh, organic mice for Garfield to eat daily, or should we continue to serve him up smelly canned food that's full of chemicals and strange slaughterhouse leftovers? Not to mention this canned stuff gives him gas that can stink up a whole room in a matter of a fraction of a second. Or should we go a step further and create mouse-flavored cat food, in canned and dry varieties? Somehow I think cat-owning city dwellers would just wrinkle their noses at this choice which is not appetizing to humans, picking out instead some sort of liver pate in a cat shaped can, rather than giving their cat what it really wants: sweet mice!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Garfield was on holiday in Pirna.

Someone is staying inside for a while.

Word on the street has it that the problem cat Garfield was out causing lots of trouble in the neighborhood last Friday, going into other people's apartments and even the school around the corner. Janitors chased him away, and finally, a teacher took him to her home. In Pirna. This is outside of Dresden, far away. Come on, if you find a cat that you can see has had an operation, would you just take it to your far away home? Or would you maybe think "Perhaps someone around here owns this cat which has had an expensive veterinary treatment."? Following an intense search effort by people in our house and neighborhood with help of the "Garfield ist weg!" signs, we had several tips as to the possible location of Garfield, and finally the teacher's attention was brought to the fact that she had stolen our cat, and she brought him home yesterday. Really, I think we're pretty lucky she took him, he was in good hands, as she is a cat owner herself. And she's an honest person, she did return him, she could have just kept him in his far away hideout, and we never would have known. Thank you friendly teacher who works around the corner!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

If you have any information relating to the whereabouts of Garfield, please notify us by comment or email a.s.a.p. Anonymous tips also accepted.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

O Tannenbaum

Yesterday a small group of us went hiking to Schrammstein in the Saxony Switzerland with little Willy. In the throes of our wanderlust, we adapted a new wanderlied:

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
simmer unseren Willy down.
Er ist so upset jetzt,
dass er gleich einen puke absetzt!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
simmer unseren Willy down.

and I just thought of a new verse:

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
simmer unseren Willy down.
Er ist so sehr aufgeregt,
seine Eltern sind durchgedreht!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
simmer unseren Willy down.

Actually, Willy remained quite calm on the hike, it was when we crossed the border into the Czech Republic for dinner that he freaked out. I think it was because of the translations on the menu that he got upset. At this restaurant, you could order "Chicken Gordon Blue" (and it was "Gordon Blue" in all 3 languages, Czech, German and English), or "Indiana Styled vegetables" (really Indian-style vegetables). But the best funny English we saw was in Decin while searching for a gas station that was open past 9 p.m. There was a shop called "Dog Ham"! So I guess someday if nobody needs English lessons in Germany any more, I could probably find a job just on the other side of the border...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Barefoot in the city?

As a child, I loved to run outside directly following a rainstorm and splash in the puddles in the crisp, post-rainstorm air, barefoot naturally. As my age increased, my love of walking outside in the soft green grass in the summer with no shoes remained, and even sometimes I would relish the feeling of wet sand squishing between my toes at the beach. But this was all in the country, in places where going barefoot was acceptable and rather safe, excepting the occasional sharp rock that poked my foot. The rule of "no shirt, no shoes, no service" in public is common knowledge in the United States, and if you don't know it, it's posted on the doors of most convenience stores and other shops. And honestly, I don't know of anyone who would really want to walk around on hot, dirty pavement or into stores with no shoes...but here there seem to be plenty of people who incredibly do have a taste for walking around on hot, dirty pavement littered with broken glass. Is it religion? Is it some sort of test of will? I can't imagine that it's pleasurable, but it seems like each summer there are more and more people hitting the sidewalks and the gravelly paths in the park without shoes. And it's not like the sidewalks of Dresden-Neustadt are any cleaner or less hot than sidewalks elsewhere, it's likely that the opposite is true. Here's just a sample of some of the delicacies you can find on the sidewalks here: all forms of dog waste, broken glass, vomit, unfinished meals that people just drop, dirty diapers, prophylactics (used and unused), assorted fireworks, German flags... Plus, these people are not just hitting the streets shoeless, they venture into stores lacking footwear as well. Amazingly, they are not sent away, they are allowed to go about their shopping, tracking their foot and street germs everywhere. A former boss of mine back in Beaverton accosted a small child in a supermarket who was not wearing shoes, and forced the child's mother to put her in the shopping cart, because not only is it dangerous for a child to be walking around a supermarket with no shoes where perhaps some jar broke and there's still a tiny shard of glass on the floor just waiting for a tender little foot, it's dangerous for the supermarket as well because they could get sued for the injury to the child. Here people really do get injured on the sidewalks, even though they can see the giant shards of broken beer bottle on the sidewalk from the night before, but they never seem to learn. I've seen more than one person here on crutches with a bandaged foot from stepping on a piece of glass. Plus, don't feet turn to incredibly unappealing leather-like appendages when not protected by shoes? I guess I just don't get the whole barefoot in the city thing.
If you've made it this far into this blog entry, you can participate in a contest! My first Remember White Rabbit contest! Tell me who the person in the picture with this post is in a comment. If you're right, Little Wee the bunny might let you pet her tilted head.

Friday, June 30, 2006

More Garfield News...

No, we haven't just thought of a new way to torture Garfield. As you may remember from a previous post, Garfield had a hernia, induced by his toothless mother at birth. After consulting the veterinarian, we decided to go through with surgery, because without surgery, Garfield could die a terrible death with his intestines spilling out of his belly. So we chose the less painful route, hernia surgery. I think it was quite simple, just a little cut, tucking the intestines back in, and sewing Garfield's belly back together. He was able to come home the same afternoon, still drunk on anaesthesia. At the moment Garfield is confined to the kitchen, where he can hurt himself the least, limited to pacing around like this and colliding with the furniture. Maybe this weekend, after the collar is off, he can venture into other areas of the apartment, and perhaps even onto the balcony, where he can hiss at the much larger neighbor cats.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Tables Have Turned

Waboose used to only take on animals much larger than him, such as humans.
But now, after just a couple days of fear and irritation, Waboose has started venting his frustrations on little Garfield. I've known cats in my life who stalk deer, and scare the deer, I even read an article last week about a cat that chased a bear up a tree (and interestingly, all of these cats have had gold fur like Garfield), but now things are a little different. In the first days of Garfield's presence at our house, Waboose's keen bunny instincts told him "this animal = danger!" But now, his attack bunny ways have prevailed, leading to aggression against the little cat. It's really quite cute. If Garfield comes within about one foot of Waboose, Waboose charges and grunts. Garfield tends to back away slowly from Waboose, or run away quickly, depending on how surprised he is, all the while hissing and puffing out his soft kitty fur. Especially adorable is when Waboose creeps up behind Garfield, sniffing the tip of his tail. Garfield notices only after this has been occuring for a good amount of time, and upon noticing, springs up, runs away, and from a safe distance, turns back hissing fiercely. The best action must have happened this afternoon, however. Waboose chased Garfield in circles on the rug in the living room! This is getting better every day.

Wee finds all of this very curious.

Waboose stalks Garfield...

...Garfield hisses angrily.

Garfield goes bunny hunting.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Kitty!, Part II

Kitty, whose official name is Garfield, is now home in Dresden. Unlike his half brother who moved to Leipzig, he did not vomit in the car on the way, much to our relief. He did, however, urinate in the bunny cage upon discovering it. Fortunately, the bunnies weren't home at the time, they were lounging on the rug in the living room. Their introduction was prior to this event, and it wasn't much better. Wee reacted coolly, just looking at the new addition to the family with her crooked head, while Waboose immediately fled to the nearest sheltered corner. Wee is taking the new addition very well, following him around and sniffing him when he least expects it. Garfield hisses at the bunny when he notices her attention. He's more interested in Waboose, because Waboose is rather high-strung and stamps his foot if Garfield even looks in his direction. The two haven't come much closer than a few feet apart. Wee has already ventured nose-to-nose with the cat, which doesn't seem to bother her as much as it bothers him.

Wee and Garfield seem to get along already!

Here you can see crazy Uncle Waboose hiding under the sofa.

As seems to be a trend with the animals at my house, Garfield has a medical condition. He has a hernia, probably caused by his toothless mother gnawing off his umbilical cord shortly after his birth. This condition can be very dangerous for a cat, but the good news is, this can be repaired. According to what I found in my research on the internet, it shouldn't even be too expensive. So we'll see what the good Dr. Fischer says sometime this week.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Rock'n'roll baby

Research shows that babies recognize music after birth which was played before their birth outside the womb. In addition, babies in some intensive care units are played rock music to calm them because the drum beat is like a mother's heartbeat. Using this knowledge and my raw nerves yesterday evening due to a certain crying baby at my house, we rocked to some AC/DC yesterday evening. Sure enough, after hearing "Big Balls", "Girl's Got Rhythm (Backseat Rhythm)", and "Whole Lotta Rosie" and dancing along to it, baby Willy was out like a light. I don't know if I could sleep to AC/DC, but it did the trick for Willy. At the moment, true to his Michigan roots, he's listening to the Raconteurs, and it seems to be quite pleasing even to a wakeful Willy. But of course he's predisposed to Jack White's music, he was at a White Stripes concert back in October when he was probably only about the size of a walnut or so.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Degenerate Toys

When two people have a child, friends and acquaintances are often led astray by the best of intentions and bestow upon the child degenerate toys. Degenerate toys are those toys which do not reflect a reasonable system of values and which will ultimately lead the unknowing child down a lifelong path of trials and tribulations. With this list, we would like to spare baby Wilhelm these trials and tribulations. If any of these degenerate toys are found within a 50 meter radius of Willy, they will be immediately seized and destroyed most completely.

-Police-related playthings: Any figures, be they in human or animal likeness or in the likeness of any mode of transportation with any police markings of any color and sort and in any language are unacceptable.

-Winnie the Pooh and friends: This bear and his friends should be so extremely cute that it has the opposite effect, plus he can't spell. This is a bad influence.

-Dogs: We don't like dogs.

-Anything baby blue or pink: We don't feel the need to declare Willy's gender or fashion sense with either of these colors.

-Things that make noise: Anything that generates a noise for no reason. For example, stuffed animals which speak, vehicles with engine or honking noises, percussion instruments.

Acceptable Playthings

While there are playthings that can lead little Willy down the false path in life, there are also acceptable playthings which can help to shape him into a sensible young man. For example:

-Motorcycles: Fast and fun, plus they promote motor development.

-Real cars: These are the size of a sedan, minimum. American models preferred. Hydraulics optional.

-Leather clothes: Only black, pants and jackets. No fringe, no cowboy style.

-Kitties and bunnies: These animals are superior to all others. But please only likenesses, we have enough of the real thing.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


We're getting a kitty, and here he is! He still lives with his mom, because he's still nursing and learning how to hunt. But in just a few short weeks, he will enter the domain of Wee and Waboose and probably forget entirely that he is a cat. Preparations for kitty have been going on for months, the whole reason we took this apartment back in January is because it's on the ground floor, facilitating easy cat exit and entry via the balcony. Consultations with the vet have also already taken place, and cat-bunny relations should be no problem.

Isn't this the most precious kitty you've ever seen? So precious, in fact, that he may be stolen. Word has it that here in Dresden-Neustadt, gold cats are often stolen because they are rare and desirable. And having a look around the neighborhood, there are an awful lot of gray, black and strangely patterned calico cats, ranging from pretty to horribly ugly and strange, but I only know one handsome gold tabby. And to support the cat thief rumor, we did spot a missing cat sign yesterday evening from the sad owners of Leo, a little golden kitty nearly as cute as ours.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Deutsche Riesen
My trip to visit the German giant rabbits.

A couple years ago, one of my students told me about German giants and I thought it was some kind of fairy tale, but yesterday I saw with my own eyes that these rabbits really do exist. And they are fantastically giant! My bunnies weigh in at about one and a half kilograms, these guys are small at 5 kilos, and can weigh up to 11 kilograms or so. The big mother rabbits I saw yesterday were about 5 times the size of my bunny Waboose. Imagine, a rabbit the size of a medium dog! And the ears of an adult are longer than one of my whole bunnies!

The real reason for this trip was to go to a birthday party about a half hour drive outside of Dresden, and it was just an added bonus that the farmer next door has a 3-story stall of German giants. It's possible to buy one for just €5, but what would I do with a rabbit the size of a beagle? They are really exquisite, with their size and giant floppy airplane wing ears, but it couldn't live with Wee and Waboose, it would probably beat them up and eat them. And there's no way I want to raise one of these adorable guys and then let a certain someone eat him or her for Christmas...they are, after all, intended for eating. So I guess I'll just have to wait on getting my German giant until I have a house or at least more space for bunnies.

Some of the babies we saw yesterday (and the one I wanted) looked like this, already the size of my regular dwarf rabbits! Others were all black, gray or brown.

The pictures above aren't mine, they are from these sites where you can learn more about or buy Deutsche Riesen:

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Here's how my German PEZ collection looks. It's finally on display! It's really nothing compared to my real PEZ collection, which I think now resides in boxes at an undisclosed location, but nonetheless impresses visitors with its strangeness.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Grill Test

After a mega shopping spree on Saturday, we just had to test out the new grill. Somebody seems to like this particular placement of Waboose, and claims that the next time he eats the plants on the balcony, this'll be the last place he sits...

...but if you were a little bunny, wouldn't you want to sample those delicious greens, too?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Will I look like this soon?
Probably. Now that the weather has gotten quite summery, all the babies who live in my building are hanging out in the yard and screaming for no apparent reason. It scares me a bit, considering my own impending arrival.

The other day at work, a male colleague was asking another colleague of mine and me how exactly one knows when to go to the hospital when expecting a baby. His take on the situation was that it seemed like a good, safe idea to go a day or so early. My first thought was "hasn't this guy seen any films where people have babies?" My second thought was "how are you supposed to know which day is the day before you're going to have the kid?" Okay, so films aren't the most reliable source of information on this subject, for example, the water doesn't usually break right around the time you need to head off to the hospital to have the little guy. But in films they do show people timing contractions, and when they are a certain time apart, that's when you should start on the way to the hospital (or wherever you want to have the kid).

Enough on that subject. Here's a little something from Germany that cracks me up every time I see it. It is a real catalogue for baby stuff, and that is the real name.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

All we can do now is remember you, White Rabbit

It was clear that it was just a matter of time. White Rabbit's demise had been impending for a time, but he held up for longer than expected. I was informed a couple weeks ago that the inspiration for this blog's name had been sandblasted away, and after having a look for myself, I must confirm that this is true. This building or renovating or whatever it is they are doing to those buildings up off Tannenstraße opposite the MDR buildings has been going on for at least a year, and the outer plaster has now been removed from the buildings, and in the process, so has White Rabbit.

But there are still other rabbits to see out on the streets!

like Schoko...

...or Drunk Bunny...

...or if you're really lucky, you might just find a Bunnee on the street!
(okay, so this one I ripped off from Found magazine...)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Goats don't like garlic.

"You're not allowed to feed the goats!" scolded an old lady who'd been hovering around, and then with incredible speed came over to me, swatted my arm 3 times, and then informed me of this half-truth. You see, at the Dresden Zoo, you are allowed to feed the goats, but only with feed from the feed machine, for which you have to pay. We just happened to have some garlic with us, and wanted to see if they would eat that, too. I mean, they are goats, and goats eat everything, right? Well, not these ones. They took the garlic all right, as they take everything from an open hand, chewed it approximately twice, then screwed up their faces and spit the garlic right out. Hm. You would think garlic tastes at least better than a tin can, but apparently not to a goat!