28 December 2012

Sweet, sweet pain

Well, I'm still getting used to where to turn and push the wheels and buttons and bits, but here are some initial experiments. Although the Christmas was far from white, at least some of the days weren't freezing—one was even unseasonably 'warm'. So we took some long walks.

I could feel the first walk in my legs a bit the next day, and I had to keep reminding myself that I had actually been outside. On the other hand, it's absurd how stiff my muscles are from playing Xbox Kinect games. But thank goodness for any exercise, be it with or without repercussions, otherwise all the Christmas chocolates, biscuits, cakes, and chocolate-covered biscuits and cakes would've killed me by now.

16 December 2012

Good night, Nikon D40

Marrying me is committing to a lifetime of receiving, like, maaaybe a book for your birthday. Christmas? Wedding anniversary? Whatever man, let's just go to dinner. So clearly I don't deserve it, but my birthday gift this year was a brand new Nikon D7000. ... I know! :O

Here are the D40's final pictures, taken at Sindelfingen's Christmas market last weekend. I thought we might visit another market this weekend, since I also finally had some time, but we didn't get round to it. Instead we went to sort out some home-shopping at the mall yesterday, and that will cure you of Christmas forever.

07 December 2012


In a perfect world there would only be snow, or no snow. The slushy brown brine that is the result of anti-snow measures messes with all the pristine freshness that is undisturbed white snow and crisp, cold air.

22 November 2012

Mist and Mauren

If you understand German, but "I mog di" makes no sense to you, well then: welcome to my world. I've been reading books and having longer conversations for a while now, but I still find myself smiling and nodding at our neighbour without actually getting to grips with what she's saying.

The local dialect is as unclear as the weather, but at least when the fog comes in closer, the world looks mysterious and interesting as opposed to just depressing. Monday was such a day, and we made the most of the mystery turned sunshine by taking a walk. I took the last few pictures of buildings and animals in Mauren, a lonely outpost of our village.

21 November 2012


A little bit about a walk, coming tomorrow or the day after.

P.S. A show on design sins just taught me that the German for "tramp stamp" is "Arschgeweih"—that's arse antlers in case you don't have your dictionary handy.

15 November 2012


We're only two weeks into November, but October seems very far away already. Everything about its luscious goldenness was perhaps but a dream. Maybe I never cycled through the forest. Maybe we didn't make fruit salad as the sun shone through our friends' balcony doors. Maybe no one in Karlsruhe was wearing a T-shirt. It's just not clear anymore. My most recent visit to Karlsruhe was a girl party where we spent most of our time in pajamas on the couch, falling in and out of sleep between reruns of Friends. There was no point in doing anything else, because it rained the whole time. Good times nonetheless.

Maybe as a way to hang onto autumn I developed an obsession with orange. Naturally the chord of the overhead projector in our German class had to pose with my clementines. I've also got the randomest collection of orange things accumulating on my desk. Cue this conversation as the husband-man sorts out recycling...

Him: What's the deal with this take-away coffee cup on your desk? Can I throw it out?
Me: No. Just leave it.
Him: What is it?
Me: Nothing, just leave it.
Him: But what is it?
Me: It's ORANGE.
Logical, right? Next time you need a good reason, I'm going to recommend you go for "it's orange."

There's not much else going on. Today the lunch-time news finally taught me the most precise word for this weather that I hate so much: Hochnebel. It's not cloudy, it's just a high fog that produces a shade of deathly awful high up in the sky that also somehow presses down onto your very soul. They keep saying you could see the sunshine if you were up in the mountains. Reason to live in the Alps #47. (Reason #12 is funny German accents, and reason #27 is cheese. And yes, I'm making this up as I go along.) The other weird thing is how afternoons seem colder than early mornings. I know it can't be true, because of—you know—orange, but I have to take off my coat before getting on the train in the morning, but then can't wait to get from class back to the station at lunch time.

At least the train then arrives, and is nice and cosy. This is in contrast to the bit of snow we had at the end of October that caused difficulties on the lines. Apparently snow is messy if there are still leaves on the trees—too much weight, things fall down, you get the idea. Of course the transport affiliate doesn't seem to watch the weather report that tells us about this snow a week before and then just stops your train out of the city before you are where you're going and gives you no further information as to what they are or are not going to do about the problem. My complaint only elicited an apology and the excuse that refunds are not issued in the case of weather problems. Well, either it has never ever snowed in October, or the VVS just can't be bothered to serve it's "honorable customers". More of a 10% weather, 90% laziness problem, don't you think?

Anyway! It feels like bedtime but it's not even 7 p.m. yet. Go figure. Each night that Hochnebel gets home from work and drops its heavy coat on the floor, enveloping us in darkness earlier and earlier.

14 October 2012

Grey, but with apples and pumpkins

Autumn is being a bit dreary. Like it doesn't know that yellow leaves look better against a blue sky. But let's not have too many expectations, then the world might disappoint us less.

On that note, here's some wisdom from today's Area F1 humorous speech contest: "Do you want to know the secret to my great, great success? I set my goals retroactively."

08 October 2012

Dear Autumn

I know you can't last forever, but please last as long as possible.

Below is another random collection of phone pictures. The weekly market in Sindelfingen, intricate fans from an exhibition of amazing treasures at the Landesmuseum Württemberg, and misty mornings and autumn colours—mostly from around Holzgerlingen. You'll also see one of the cut-it-yourself flower fields. I should take those guys up on the offer and try some ikebana again.

P.S. Since "-le" can replace the standard diminutive of "-chen" around here, we can deduce that the squirrel up there is not only a small squirrel, but specifically a small Schwäbisch squirrel.

P.P.S. The Celtic exhibition at the Landesmuseum is pretty damn fantastic. Thank heavens I spent my public holiday there instead of at the Cannstatter Volksfest.

24 September 2012

A+ for everyone

I don't know what it is about the world today, but everyone is just being excellent in lots of little ways.

I took the bus from our station to where I needed to be for my first lesson as an English instructor in Germany, and the excellence started right there. First, I saw this great sign (above), which I may have passed before, but probably not more than once or twice, since I've never taken the bus from our village. We're much better connected by train. Anyway, I made a mental note to take a picture of the sign when I got back.

The point is, my destination being pretty much the only place we're connected to by bus, I took it this morning. The driver seemed generally upbeat and truly proved it before we set off: after everyone had boarded, he first got up to wave to us and bid us all a good morning before sitting down again to drive. When we got to the main road he made some funny noises and then did a U-turn. He wasn't up for what he considered to be a "Stau"—traffic congestion or a traffic jam. I realised this because after his manoeuvre he flagged down another bus driver coming from the opposite direction to inform him of the trouble ahead. "Turkish-Turkish-Turkish-Stau-Turkish-Turkish." We cut through our village to get to the main route we needed to take, and made our first stop. I have to admit that the ride many had taken from the station to this IBM-stop seemed rather silly just then. All that drama for what could have been a 1 km walk? Anyway, once we reached the small village neighbouring our destination, we were in a real jam. The driver even got up to get his snack and paper from another seat in the bus—"What a Stau! Might as well read the paper!" The situation being what it was he made a proposition some minutes later: those who wanted to get out and walk were welcome to do so, he'd pick them up again if they got to the train station stop at the same time and wanted to continue on. Movement being as slow as it was, we didn't see the two people who took the walking option on the bus again.

When I got back, I remembered to take my picture. Then that bus driver, waiting around until his next departure, insisted on taking a picture of me with the sign—"Isn't that so much nicer!" We got to talking, since I suppose one has to assume "You're not from here, are you?" if you see me taking weird pictures. He's also Turkish, but has lived in Germany for forty years. Despite having completed his schooling here, he still struggles with the German language. "How do you find writing in German? My boss sends me an SMS, right. So I have to reply in German. But I can't even write an SMS without making some silly, small error. One word or two words? Or sometimes I get one letter wrong. It's hard!" He thinks it's nice that Germany is generally a safe country where a woman—or a man for that matter—can be on the street at night without too much worry. He does however worry about the far-right, particularly about the damage they could do to the country's image. If people develop a negative image of Germany they might be like, "I want to buy this handbag—oh no wait, I don't—it was made in Germany".

And that was just the bus drivers! The ladies who showed up for what will be a very small group of English learners (even when all are present) were also just the best. I was wise enough this time around not to ask odd questions like "How old are you?" My Japanese adult students had schooled me when I did that four years ago—"As old as your mother" or "Older than your mother" were the two answers that everyone in the group used. I wish they could join us. I can just imagine the animated discussions on gardening and grandchildren.

23 September 2012

Reporting for duty

Well, tomorrow I'll report for English-teaching duty. And from Tuesday to Friday I'll be back at German class. So "school" is officially on again. For after school activities I'll continue working on the Coursera course I'm doing, so even more "school". Hurray!

Here's something fun from last weekend.

19 September 2012

Another goodbye

Found these in the vault recently, by which I mean the uncleared SD card. It wasn't quite two weeks ago, but these pictures evoke memories of warmer times. The days aren't so bad yet, but the nights keep getting colder. I think tonight marks the first possibility of frost, hopefully not around these parts though. At least there are apples, pumpkins, and the last few berries to keep us happy.

14 September 2012

Goodbye, summer

I mean, I hope it isn't truly and finally goodbye, but it sure seems that way. This past weekend we were on a DIY mission, but I forced us to interrupt it after we got back from shopping on Saturday, because you never know how many sunny days are left. We spent a relaxing late afternoon at the Gärtringen public pool. The lawns stretch out forever and the atmosphere is heavenly, even if the water is a tad cold.

I simply had to repeat the trip on Sunday—because again—you never know about the sunny-day supply. Seems it was a good call. Since then we've been plunged straight into much lower temperatures, wind, and rain.

Here are some more phone pics from short walks and cycles around the area in recent times.

Notice that burnt down shed? Lots of messy, messy arson damage. Friends happened to have told us about it, and then I came upon it the other day. Poor farmer.