Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Vol 62

Here are my answers for this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Everyone is welcome to play along. Just go to this site for the questions and to link your blog post to the list.

1. A new Miss America was crowned on Saturday night-did you watch? If you were a contestant what would your talent be?

No. I didn't watch. I don't even think it is televised here. Even if it were, I probably wouldn't see it. I don't watch much television.

A talent? Well, let's see. I don't play an instrument and for lack of any other performance talent, I'd have to go with singing. However, I am not sure if that would increase or decrease my chance ;-)

2. Do you have houseplants? Real or fake?

Sure, I have houseplants. Real ones. I have a lot of cacti, bamboo, spider plant, a few I don't even know the name, and what I really love are the orchids by my window sill. I never bought them before because I heard they were tricky. Then I got one as a gift and realized they aren't so hard to care for after all.I love all the different varieties and colors available.

3. When you were in school did you speak up or were you more of the hide your face, avoid eye contact, and pray the teacher didn't call on you type of student?

I got lucky. School was relatively easy for me. In most subject, I only had to put in minimal effort to get optimum results. So most of the time I wasn't shy. My biggest downfall was math and math-related sciences like chemistry which had so many equations. In those classes, I had to work my butt off. And I was a bit more shy.

4. Next Monday marks the Chinese New Year...what do you order when someone suggests Chinese food?

We tend to go for Japanese instead of Chinese, and each time I order something different. Hmmm...chinese? I like duck. I like strong flavored sauces. Spicy. With veggies. 

5. How would you define a miracle? What would it take for you to consider something a miracle?

A miracle would be my teenage daugher keeping her room clean for more than a week.

6. What's your favorite Disney song? If you're stuck you'll find a list here.

I honestly have no idea. I'm not always good at picking favorites. 

7. I should have _____________ yesterday.

done the ironing

Didn't do it today either. (sigh) Maybe tomorrow? Eventually I'll run out of things to wear and will be forced to do it.  

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I am wondering how Joyce decides which questions to post each Wednesday. How do you do that, Joyce? Huh? Huh?

Also, the other day the weather was unseasonably warm. Flowers started pushing their heads out of the soil. Insects were out. As I went outside to hang wash, there was a bee sitting on the wall outside the cellar door, sitting there were the sun shone on it. That night the temperature dropped. Frost covered the grass, brushes, tree bark. I am wondering what happened to that little honey bee. The poor thing!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge - January 11, 2012

It's time again for another Wednesday Hodgepodge.

1. Lake Superior University has once again published a list of words/phrases they think should be banished from the Queen's English in 2012-

amazing, baby bump, shared sacrifice, occupy, blowback, man cave, the new normal, pet parent, win the future, trickeration, ginormous, and thank you in advance.

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Go here to read more about how the words are chosen.
Well, you'll never believe this, but I hadn't even heard of a few of these words. I guess that is the problem (or perhaps advantage...whichever way you look at it) of living overseas. I only catch on to these phrases if I hear them from friends or see them written somewhere. One of the things I can't stand to hear is "My bad!" But that isn't on the list.
In any case, I would definitely vote to do without trickeration. I mean, really... trickeration? The proper word should be trickery. Trickery was fine for years and years and years. Why mess with it? 
2. Are you easily embarrassed?

Not really. Definitely not with friends. Perhaps in a business situation if I would do something very stupid, but then I'd try to get out of it with a bit of humor. Laughter makes everything better. (okay, perhaps not everything but most things)

3. What is your go-to snack?

Believe it or not, I don't really have one. Sometimes fruit or yogurt or paprika chips. Of course, Landliebe chocolate pudding is a tasty choice, but imagine if I ate pudding every day. On the other hand, don't. It wouldn't be pretty.

4. Have you ever been to Washington D.C.? If not do you have any desire to go? What site/attraction would you most want to see in that city? If you have been, what's your favorite site/attraction?

I've been there lots of times. I've been to the Smithsonian so many times and it is nice, but for an indoor activity I might decide to get lost in the art museum. I like the way it is set up and it houses many fine works. Yet, the outdoor sights are wonderful, not to mention all the great people watching one can do. I think one of the best times to go and browse the outdoor sights and fountains and such is when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. It adds a nice touch and gentleness to everything.

5. sit ups-planks-lunges-squats...which do you hate the least?

At one time the answer would have been either sit-up or lunges. I always hated squats. Not big on planks either but they're not as bad as squats. But now, after having been sick a long time with a triple infection, one being invasive group A strep which hit my body hard, they are all a challenge. Some days I feel like an ancient lady. Old and decrepid. 
6. What's a small act of kindness you were shown that you've never forgotten?

I try to be a kind and helpful person and believe that what you give returns to you. I am lucky to know some wonderful people who have done so. ALL those acts of kindness are  appreciated, and I'd hate to single one out over the others.  

7. Have you ever been a blood donor?

Certainly have. Except after living in England and returning to the states, they wouldn't let me be a donor anymore due to BSE. I lived there at the time of the outbreak. I think I could probably try again. I mean, if I haven't gone mad-cow yet, then I am probably safe, right?

(what do you mean by you think I might have it? Huh? Huh? Do you think that is a-moos-ing? Huh? Do you!!? That's udderly ridiculous!) 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

But seriously...this thought keeps coming into my head today.

Yesterday evening as I was driving home, the full moon looked liked a giant, marbled pearl in the sky and a hazy circle, like an embracing halo, surrounded it. What a beautiful sight. I keep kicking myself for not grabbing my camera and taking a picture as soon as I got home. Real big kick in the...

Have a wonderful day! Don't forget to check out Joyce's Blog for more Wednesday Hodgepodge ~ AND to join in the fun!

Monday, January 9, 2012

You Walk Me on the Cookie!

In one of my older posts (What Did You Say?) from March I wrote about the troubles of travelling to a country where one doesn't speak the language. At the end of the post I shared an embarrassing moment that happened to me shortly after moving to Germany.

To give you my own example, when I first starting teaching English, I knew very little German. One night in class I brought a snack and knowing that some of the participants are very health conscious I tried to explain that there were no artificial sweeteners or preservatives. I knew the word for sweeteners but not preservatives and it wasn't in my book, so I said in a German accent “No sugar and no--preservatives?” Everyone started laughing and said “I hope not.” You see, Präservativ in German is the word for condom. When they explained what I had said, I am sure my face turned red, but I learned a new word that night...and it is one I've never forgotten.

And at some point I believe I wrote (or intended to write, if I didn't) about how one of my students, when she was living in California, ate celery stalks for the first time. Sellerie (celery root) has always been popular in Germany but celery stalks are more of a recent thing, so when Susanne was an au pair 20 years ago, it was very new to her. She noticed that many people ate celery, but the family she stayed with-- celery fanatics. She said they had it every day for lunch, dinner, even in between meals. They loved celery. She didn't realize how important celery was until she was with a neighbor, sitting, nibbling on some snacks and...celery. The neighbor suddenly lowered her voiced and asked, "Do you mind me asking you a question?" Then she continued with "Well, I was much celery do you get? Do they give you enough?"

Susanne immediately answered, "Oh, yes. Lots and lots of celery. Sometimes I think too much celery. Some days I get celery for breakfast, lunch, and dinner." And then the other lady just starting laughing. And laughing. And when Susanne told us this story, we were laughing as well. In fact, I think Susanne laughed the loudest. Not only is she a loud laugher by nature, but she had learned that celery and salary, though they sound very similiar are not similar at all.

There are many "false friends" in German/English translation, and not being aware of them can put you in an odd position or make you look dumb. For instance, pickle and Pickel sound alike so it would be easy for one to think they are the same. But you definitely don't want to eat a Pickel (spot or pimple or ZIT). If you falsely believe that impraegniert and impregnate are the same and translate "I have impregnated my wife" (or more commonly--I made my wife pregnant") into "Ich hab mein Frau impraegniert!" then your German friends might look at you a bit strange, because you've just announced that you have made your wife waterproof. It would be even funnier when speaking of the neighbors dog getting your dog pregnant and falsely translated into "your dog made my dog waterproof".  Saying that would really freak them out a bit.

Need to buy some fabric to sew something? Don't confuse fabric and Fabrik or you might end up spending much more money than intended. Fabrik doesn't mean fabric but factory. Stoff is the proper word for fabric. A German Chef is not a cook but your boss. If you are brav, you are not brave; brav means well-behaved. Branche is not a part of a tree but a field/line of work. A branch would be an Ast. The word Art in German means a species, sort/kind of something. One of my favorites is gift. Everyone likes to get a gift, right? Not in German. A gift or present in German is a Geschenk. The word Gift in German actually means poison. So beware! All these closely related words can cause a heap of trouble.

Another area of concern is the use of idioms or phrases that cannot be translated word for word. We don't realize all the things we say that seem like nonsense to foreign speakers/English language learners. We think nothing of saying "It's time to hit the road" but when read literally, word for word, it has a whole different meaning. It is no different for native speakers of English to encounter the same problems in German.  For instance, the title of my blog post is You Walk Me on the Cookie! This is  direct translation of the German phrase "Du geht's mir auf den Keks!" Some take it a bit further and say "Du Geht's mir tierisch auf den Keks!" (you walk me like an animal on the cookie/or in British English...on the biscuit). This phrase means "You get on my nerves" or "you are annoying me". Not good.

There are so many good ones. Did you turn off the water rooster? Water = Wasser and Hahn = rooster. However, Wasserhahn means the faucet. How they ever came up with Wasserhahn for faucet, I'll will never understand. But then again, we English speakers also have our share of crazy words. Have you ever seen butter fly? Why butterfly? Or, really...what we were thinking? The German Stachelbeeren makes so much more sense.

What? Now you're going to have a "hissy-fit" because I like Stachelbeeren better than gooseberries? Ach Komm, stell dich nicht so an, oder? Directly translated that would be: Ahhh come! Stand you not so on, or? Haha...I love gibberish. Komm, stell dich nicht so an, oder? means Come on. Don't act that way. Okay?

I wanted to find more funny examples and started surfing the web. I found a forum which listed many examples in the comments`.If you want to take a look, then go here. If not, I will tell you two of my favorites. The first was submitted by someone under the useer name of Baddoggie. He wrote: 

My German ex- once said, "Yes, I know it's chilly. I'm going to wear a sweater overneath this blouse."


"Yes. Overneath it. Just like the blouse is underneath the sweater."

I was howling with laughter and actually rolling on the floor as she became more and more irritated while insisting it was a word. After all, it only makes sense that if you have an underneath you must have an overneath. She looked through every dictionary in the flat and when she finally conceded, she still insisted that she was still right to use that word and English just forgot to put it in.

In German there really is a piece of clothing called a Pullunder. It is like a tank top or vest which is funny to me since you put a vest OVER your shirt and don't pull it under.

The second one I like uses the term "Scheisse bauen" which means to make trouble. Unfortunately, this person translated word for word. FrankinBechhofen wrote:

On New Years I got a call at work that some drunk soldiers were at a taxi stand. The woman said in English they were loud, drunk and making shit. At first I thought they were actually pooping on the ground, but I seem to recall a German phrase about scheisse bauen or something like that.

That one was too funny. It sort of reminds me of the English saying "When the shit hits the fan". Try explaining that one to a foreigner.

I could go on and on with examples but I think you get the idea. Maybe I'll share some another time, but for now I am going to bed. Or shall I say, "I'm gonna' hit the sack".

Good night!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Surprise, Surprise!

A week ago today I wrote a post about New Year's Resolutions. At the end I asked my readers to write some funny "I won't" resolutions. Then I ended that post with the words: Best wishes to all of you for a happy, healthy, and successful year ahead. May it be full of wonderful surprises.

I intentionally ended with "May it be full of wonderful surprises," because I had planned a surprise. From the responses I would choose my favorite one and reward that person with a little gift. Well, Tami Miller...SURPRISE! You will be receiving a box of fine European chocolates. Congratulations.

And to all my other readers, remember what Forest Gump said:  Life is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get.

Happy Sunday, everyone.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year Hodgepodge

Here are my answers to the Wednesday Hodgepodge -

1. What are three words you would use to describe your 2011?


okay, that is a bit of a cheat but the year was full of appointments and events, some more pleasant than others

2. Do you like shrimp? What's your favorite way to have it prepared?

Sure, I like it, but it isn't my favorite seafood. I like it scampi style on a platter with lobster tail, crabcrakes and broiled sea scallops. Also, my friend Ute once made a salad that was very good. It has shrimp, diced avocado, finely chopped pineapple and fresh red pepper.Tasty.

3. Is your house de-Christmased? If so, when did you tackle that job? If not, when will the decorations come down?

No. Everything is still up and will be until Epiphany on January 6th. That's how it is done in Germany. Of course, we put our trees up much later than in the U.S.  Many people do not put their tree up until Christmas Eve. 

4. Do you like to watch scary movies?

Sure. I LOVED them as a kid and more so as a teenager, a little less now. I prefer comedy and drama these days.

5. ice skating~sledding~ skiing~snowboarding...of the four listed which wintertime activity do you most enjoy?

Hmmmm...toss up between ice skating and sledding. Ice skating is fun and doesn't require me to pull things up a giant hill but sledding is a nice family activity and makes on feel like a child again.

6. Did you have a childhood hideout? Describe it.

Not really a hideout but there were fields and woods behind our house and the remnants of two torn-down buildings. I'd sometimes go out there when upset, but those fields were great to hang out no matter what mood I was in.  I also walked the dog on the paths and we often saw rabbits. Try as she might, my dog never caught one. And there were field of buttercups. And poison ivy...but we won't go into that story.

7. What's a place or space that motivates you?

Not sure. I think people and goals motivate me. It doesn't matter where I am. (Ok...Gargnano, Italy in the summer time just might do the trick)

8. Insert your own random thought here. 
Well, after question number two I am thinking I should call Ute and ask for that recipe. She showed it to me at the time, the page in the cookbook, but it was a while ago and I never got a chance to make it and even though I could just "wing it" I'd really like to have the same dressing because it was really good but can't for the life of me remember what kind of dressing it was. (not sure how random that thought is but it sure makes one hell of a run-on sentence)

Monday, January 2, 2012

How to Make Easily Obtainable New Year Resolutions


2011 has slipped into the past and 2012 has just begun. With the coming of a new year comes new hopes and dreams, moments yet unspent, time to learn and grow. And yes, new year resolutions. Does this list look familiar?

Things to do in the new year

Eat less. 
Exercise more.
Lose weight.
Spend more time with family and friends.

Most of us have chosen one or more (if not all) of these resolutions at some point in our lives. These are the things we say we WILL DO. The day changes from December 31 to January 1 and all of a sudden we are full of inspiration and good intentions, but often times we fail. Some people think this has nothing to do with a lack of will power but rather improper wording. They recommend being more specific. For instance:

I will not snack in between meals. (yeah right)
I will go jogging before breakfast three time a week. (Except that snooze button always interferes)
By the end of the year I will wear one clothing size less than now. (But the clothing manufacturers don't cooperate. They've seemed to resize the clothing again :-)

I once read an article about a man who only wrote what he WOULDN'T do in the new year (instead of the typical "I will..."). For example:
I will not drink more than one cup of coffee a day.
I will not go to bed later than 10 PM.
I guess he'll just sleep more often and snore longer. But seriously, can changing your "I will"s to "I will not"s make a difference? Personally, I wasn't buying it. 

Normally I don't make resolutions on New Year's Eve. I'd given that up years ago. Instead, I make life goals that I can work up to in little steps throughout the year. I'll be honest with you though. Sometimes that even fails. This year I wanted to go back to the tradition of making resolutions but wanted to make sure I could obtain them. The question is-- how can I do that? 

Well, I have given this much thought the last week and think I have finally found a sure-fire way to make sure I can easily obtain my New Year's resolutions. I have made a list of things I definitely will not do in 2012. I hope you enjoy them.

Things I will NOT do in 2012
1. I will not eat lima beans for breakfast.
2. I will not, at any time or for any reason, drive while blindfolded.
3. I will not get breast implants.
4. I will not recite Dr. Seuss books to strangers on the train
5. I will not dye my hair any shade of green.
6. I will not wear six inch stilettos, especially while riding my bicycle.
7. I will not snore while at the fitness center.
8. I will not attempt to grow a beard.
9. I will not wear super hero underwear.
10. I will not join the Paris Hilton fan club.

I think I can manage those. Also, I hope to be a better blogger next year, posting at least once a week on one of my blogs. (What do you mean "ONE of your blogs?" Didn't you know I have more than one? There is my highly neglected Linda's Life on the Other Side which I hope to get back to this week and The Gathering of Stones blog where I post my observations for the "River of Stones". The river is flowing again this January so I will be posting daily there.) I have other personal goals for 2012 but I'll just keep those to myself and let you know when I reach them. And if I don't reach them I won't feel the need to sneak off to a corner like a dog with his tail between his legs. 

Now in the spirit of new begins, I challenge you to list three "I will not..." resolutions in the comments section of this post. Go ahead. Make them as creative as you like. Tell me I will not stalk my boss, will not fill the bathtub with chocolate milk, and will not trim my toe nails with the garden clippers. Make me smile. Make me laugh. Make me say, "Yes. I believe he/she can meet that goal in 2012."

Best wishes to all of you for a happy, healthy, and successful year ahead. May it be full of wonderful surprises.