Sunday, October 30, 2011

Food for Thought

Food. It is something everyone is familiar with. We all need to eat, right?

One of my favorite foods in Germany is Zwiebelkuchen. Zwiebel means onion and Kuchen means cake, but I think it would translate better as onion tart or onion pie. It is a tasty treat when eaten warm with a glass of good wine.

Not only is food a part of our every day lives but it also plays a big role in travel. Each country has its own specialities or customs revolving around food. Not only do countries have different culinary delights, but even individual towns have their own specialties--a special mustard, a secret recipes for ribs, a type of pickle, apple butter, scrapple, taco, soup. Well, you get the idea. And food can speak to us in various ways. Some people believe that the way to a man's heart in through his stomach.

Food is also the theme of the next Language/Place blog carnival. Why not submit? You could send a story about exotic food you tried in a foreign country or street food or your town's speciality or a flash fiction piece where food places a part. Perhaps you might mention a food idiom such as "to have your cake and eat it too", "nutty as a fruitcake" or "to eat crow" and share a moment where the saying was true. You might send a poem about how the smell of apple pie always reminds you of your Aunt Betty and how she always wore her hair in that beehive form. OK...maybe not, but you could send a different poem. Just think food and be creative.

If you are interested in joining the carnival, CLICK HERE for my earlier post which has information,other ideas, and a link to the Language/Place website. The submission period begins on November 1.
If you'd like to read the current edition (which is also the one-year anniversary edition of Language/Place) with the theme "Streets, Signs, Directions" then CLICK RIGHT HERE to start reading.

Go ahead. What are you waiting for?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

Remember the lyrics from that song by 5 Man Electrical Band? You know...the one that goes "Signs, signs, every where a sign..." When I recently went through my summer vacation photos that song kept running through my head. I hadn't realized how many pictures of  signs I had taken. I usually snapped a pic of the entrance sign to any site or attraction we visited. These photos serve as an reference point and organizational helper when making a photo book. Other signs pictures list facts and information I might not be able to  remember after the trip is over; they serve as my reminder. Some are taken just for fun. Today I'd like to share a few sign withs you from my four weeks in the United States in August.

After spending time with family in Pennsylvania, we flew to Texas to visit my cousin. We mostly spent time in Austin and San Antonio (more about those days in another post). One of the places we visited was The Alamo. Katarina found it very boring.

I guess at age thirteen, historical landmarks don't rank high on the list of interests. I think she was more impressed by this big metal sign that simply stated the historical fact and didn't require tours or the reading of  a hundred other information plaques.

From Texas we drove to New Mexico. Of course, we needed to stop to take a picture of the state sign. Except this welcome sign wasn't as welcoming as the Texas sign. Can you guess why?

It has to do with all the bullet holes in it. It made my daughter nervous. At night she made always double-checked to make certain the hotel room was locked, and she didn't leave any of her belongings in the car trunk. I guess that goes to show that a sign can relay more than what is on the sign, whether that feeling be accurate or inaccurate.

Then, to make things a bit more interesting, we saw this sign in Roswell.

Of course, it wasn't the only alien-related sign. The whole town is full of them. Even the streetlights are shaped like alien heads. Katarina thought it was rather strange, so we explained the history of Roswell. Afterwards, she said "Oh, I understand now. But really...that was like how long ago? Time to move on, people." I just laughed.

This time the alien signs had provided a conversation piece for us. So did this one. Katarina thought it was cool that we were travelling on the former Route 66.

And then we finally got to our next destination.

We had beautiful weather in Durango. Before heading back, we met a member of my online writer's group, Connie, at Mesa Verde National Park (where I took a photo of the entrance sign and a kazillion photos of the kivas and scenery.) I will be blogging about that at a later date. In the meantime, here is one of my photos from that day.

Okay, so it's not the scenic picture you were expecting. Don't worry I have tons of those. You'll get to see them eventually. This shot shows my daughter crawling through a wooden box. What you can't see is the note printed on the side. It says in order to go to Balcony House, you must be able to easily crawl through this space. I told her "Now you know how your hamster feels when she goes through her tunnel".

On the way back to Texas we stopped at Petroglyph National Monument. Here you find more than just the wooden entrance sign. There are over 24,000 carved images (or some might say signs) to find.

We all started to climb the trail when we came upon this sign.

Signs can be scary, I suppose, because my daughter promptly asserted her right to head back to the car. I set off alone up the steep path to take some photos. 

But signs can also comfort you after a long day of travelling. As we crossed over the border into Texas again and got closer to the San Antonio and Austin areas, we were reminded of home. We had learned at the Bob Bullock State History Museum in Austin that at one time, San Antonio has a very high population of German immigrants. One third? Unfortunately, one is not permitted to take pictures in the museum; otherwise, I would still know that bit of information. Anyway, we started to see street signs, exits signs, and billboard with German names on them. That made my daughter feel right at home.

Here is a church we passed in San Antonio.

And here is what was written on it.

Also in San Antonio is a huge hotel. As you will learn from the sign, the owners were German.

Here are the road signs. Oma is the German word from grandma and Haus means house, of course.

Schlitterbahn is a slide. We wished we'd had time to stop and enjoy the big water slides here. That day the temperature was 102 degrees (almost 40 Celsius for my German friends).

And this one is pretty close to being the German "Scherz". It is pronounced the same.

A Scherz is a joke. I like jokes because I like laughing. Which reminds me of another sign.

My favorite sign wasn't in German. It is this sign, in English, that I found funny. Of course, if you don't understand what the word means, then you wouldn't find it funny at all. That is what happened with Katarina. After we explained the meaning of the word, she finally saw the humor in it.

What do you think? Do you find it at all funny? Also, do you take pictures of signs? Have you passed any interesting signs lately? Or do you have those song lyrics running through your head now...signs, signs, everywhere a sign...? Tell me about it. As for me, I am signing off now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


 I have two announcements to make. First, one of my Lind-guistic blog posts is featured in the current edition of Language/Place hosted by
Sheree Mack. This edition draws a colored map of The Heart and Soul of the Cultural Landscape in 14 entries from around the world. What's really neat is that a few of my friends are also featured this month. If you'd like to read this edition, click here.

And now for my second announcement (drum roll, please...)  In November, I will be hosting edition 12. The theme is "food". Perhaps you are like me and the first words you learn in a new language are those needed for ordering food. Once, while in a country where I knew not one word of the language, I just pointed to items on the menu and waited for the waiter to bring my surprise. Have you ever had an unusual food experience abroad? Does your town have any local food specialties? Food traditions? Do you have a story that touches on a food phrase/idiom? The possibilities are endless. Be creative.

I will be accepting submission from the 1st until the 20th of November 2011. Information on how/where to submit will be posted here by October 31 and will be available on the Language/Place blog.

In the meantime, feel free to submit to edition 11. 

Edition #11 marks the 1-year anniversary of the language/place blog carnival! The edition will be hosted by Dorothee Lang, who started the carnival in October 2010 and blogs at life as a journey. The feature theme for edition #11 is “Streets, Signs, Directions” - but as always, a wide range of contributions is welcome. The edition is planned for late October 2011, deadline: 20.10. Invitation + Guidelines.  

To read more about Language>Place blog carnival, go here. You can join its Facebook page. For instructions on how to submit, browse this site.

Monday, October 3, 2011

How quickly can you write 60 words?

Remember last week when I "pulled a Cinderella" by attending the "Bloggers Ball" within the last hours? Well, guess what? I am once again slipping in right before another deadline, and I want to give everyone who reads this a chance to do the same. If you want to play along in The Worst Storyline Ever Contest, you have until the end of today (11:59 p.m., PST, Tues, Oct. 3, 2011) to enter. As you probably know, a storyline is a short write-up you might find in the tv guide for a show, on the back of dvd, or a blurb for a book. The point of this contest is to write a really ridiculously stupid storyline.

Need an example? Click here to see my winning entry (and others) from 2010.

For complete rules, CLICK HERE.

You are allowed to enter two storylines. I just posted one and will try to think of another before the day ends. Afterwards (and only after I have submitted two) will I go and read the other entries. There are always quite a few that make me laugh and/or question "Why didn't I think of that?"

Come play along! Even if you don't enter, why not visit the site to read the entries and end your Sunday with a bit of humor. After all, laughter is good medicine.