Wednesday, January 16, 2019

It’s all about me…

After an overly busy December followed by company in between Christmas and New Year’s then the rush, excitement, dread, frantic sorting out and dispersing of various accumulated childhood items saw the departure of my younger son, I am now finally “home alone” and ready to get on with my own life.

For the first time in weeks (maybe not months, although…) I have a day where I have only appointments of my choosing, namely a massage and dinner with a good friend.

I started this before I had made any plans and have now enjoyed a trip to the flea market; lunch in an inexpensive Asian restaurant, good coffee with a friend and am looking forward to the massage and the dinner.

I am sure that if this was a regular occurrence I would find life boring, but for a day or two I am more than happy to make it all about ME!

Way back last summer...

Sunday, January 13, 2019

What’s in a name?

Much has been written about the significance of our names, both last and first.
Some believe that our names are chosen unconsciously by our parents to reflect some trait. In my case, my first name was an accident. My mother’s favorite sister – the one that she protected the rest of her life when she and said sister were taken across country to live with the cousins when they were not yet 10 and 12 – had a name. Mine was meant to be a derivative of that name, but when the birth certificate came back, it was hers exactly!
(OK my mother’s birth certificate established by her father several months after her birth said that she was a male, but hey before computers things could get mixed up. Of course they still get mixed up but we now have machines to blame instead of people).

I digress.

Last names generations ago reflected in many parts of the world the person’s occupation.
Not a clue what my maiden name was supposed to represent although an internet search today shows that not only were and are there famous people holding that name, but there is also a small cove on one of the Orkney Islands (Scotland) that bears that name as well as a crater on the moon! OK when my parents first went to England way back in the 70s my father was sure that he could turn up some relatives by checking the phone book: at that point there were “only” some 20 pages in the London telephone book bearing that last name! According to Wikipedia it is a lowland Scottish personal name derived from “Adam”.

So a couple of hours later – once I start researching something I get lost online.

Then there is my husband’s last name. The original name was indeed derived from the familial occupation – smithies – they are easier to research as 1) of catholic persuasion, 2) with the exception of my husband and one of his cousins they have remained within a 30-mile radius of Cologne/Bonn in Germany. Still, unless one knows, one wouldn’t realize that the 4 children descended from Schmitz all ended up legally with different last names. The older son kept the simple Schmitz; the daughter married and changed to her husband’s name; my husband legally added his mother’s maiden name as it had died out and his younger brother did the same with the grandmother’s maiden name. Talk about complicated for ongoing genealogical research in 100 years!

Anyway this name often gets totally deformed as we live in a French-speaking area. What started this whole train of thought and the blog is one of the funnier mis-writings of my name. For KLM I am Mme. Schmitz Leaf Fen. I could simply unsubscribe as I haven’t taken a plane all year last year, but it makes me laugh every time I see it so we’ll wait awhile – and I certainly won’t be correcting it any time soon. I mean I love leaves and the thought that I could belong to a “fen” pleases me.

So perhaps my original point – that a name represents, even if subconsciously, a value of the person – is not too far wrong in my case!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Until the last drop…

Or piece, or smear.

I had always read on sites that talk about minimalizing, or saving, or being more ecological that one should always cut open the squeeze tubes. I was very good at simply rolling them tight, leaving them on their head so that what little was left would drip down, but I balked at cutting them. I will no longer hesitate as the bug hit me when I had already squeezed, turned upside down and otherwise emptied my day cream lotion tube when one day the urge hit, the scissors were there, and I was feeling “sparsam” (like saving, sometimes the German is simply more succinct).

A month later (note that is over 30 days in some months!) and I finally threw out what was left in the cut-off top as simply too sloppy looking on my shelves. But I just imagine the amount of profit being made if that much is left in the tube.

This year I will also work on eating up the leftovers. We have so much waste and much of it is under our control. Still not setting any New Year's Resolutions, but will try in general to not be wasteful - it can only help me, the pocket book and the world. Not a bad thing.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Out with the old,

In with the new, or at least the working used.

For a couple of years now I have been struggling with alarm clocks. My old faithful – bought way back in 1984 (yes – happy wedding anniversary to my brother and sister-in-law!) has over the years, understandably, taken a few knocks. It has woken me up in many places throughout the world as I travel, never mind many a morning at home.
Indispensable that clock.

Now I know that the way to go is one’s smart phone, however, its’ owner not being quite so smart did not know until my sister enlightened me a few days ago, that the alarm rings even if one has it on mute. Who knew?

The other function of the old clock that is almost as precious as its’ alarm is the easy-to-push-in-the-middle-of-the-night top bar. It lights up the screen so that one can see if one has half the night left, or only an hour or two. My source of good rest is that top button.

So it was my safety blanket, my one and all, my be all.

Ever since the back half broke I have been looking to replace it. One would be amazed at the lack of those two functions on modern alarm clocks: either there is no convenient button to light it up in the dark or the sound on the alarm is so low that I miss it half the time (yes I will freely admit that I have slight hearing problems, but one wouldn’t wear hearing aids to bed in any case, would one?). Then the back broke off entirely, then the cover for the battery disappeared so half the time the battery blinks out by just picking it up. In short it was no longer a viable alarm and I had had to haul out one of my larger ones, albeit one without a convenient light-up button.

Knowing that my sister would be coming this way for Christmas I checked the Radio Shack store online and found one exactly like the old one. It only existed in white – never mind, I requested that she purchase it and bring it.

She did better: she also brought her old travel alarm (same model as mine!). Life would be good as I now am probably “in alarm clocks” for many years. I could wish to outlive them, but that may be pushing it if they last as long as the last one as I would be around 150. Still stranger things have happened and at least I would be able to wake myself up or orient myself in the middle of the night.

Won’t however throw out the old until I am sure that the used and new actually work.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Starting off the New Year right

Even those who don’t celebrate the solstice, Christmas or any similar holiday event, do face the New Year together with the rest of the world. (Ok there may still be some pocket somewhere that don’t have a calendar or who still go by the old Gregorian one).

It was very appropriate that today’s be the following!
We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. -E. M. Forster, novelist (1 Jan 1879-1970)

I have very rarely made any New Year’s Resolutions, but this one would be a good one, together with my “happiness” box (somehow the idea drifted across my mind a couple of days ago that it would be a good thing to write one slip of paper a day and deposit it in a physical “happiness” box).

Enjoy the New Year – make of it what you will – or what it makes of you.
Love, Joy, patience and good health are just a few of my wishes for family, friends, and the world in general. Peace might be asking for too much!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Kludging or

Something I’m very good at!

Languages are always evolving with new additions every year depending upon technical improvements, life-style changes and the like.
My main languages are English, French and German and it’s fun to see how they evolve differently. I admire the Germans in particular as if they need a new word to describe something they simply string a few old words together and presto – a new word that means exactly the right thing. In English and in French we tend to evolve words from more basic elements, ie slang, street talk and the like.

The above word showed up in 1962. According to A.Word.A.Day (one of my all-time favorite sites: it has to be labeled origin unknown as although it appeared in an article by Jackson W. Granholm in Datamation magazine: “How to Design a Kludge”, various origins for his use of it have been suggested: German, Scots, military jargon, from the name of a paper feeder,” according to A.Word.A.Day.
noun: An inelegant, improvised solution to a problem.
verb tr.: To improvise a haphazard solution to a problem.

Latest example of my own kludging – hanging the lights on the Christmas tree.

N.B. I could also think of “klutz” for klu words but was amazed to find that it wasn’t in my hard copy of the Miriam Webster dictionary – 1966. Things change fast.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Communicating or ….

White Boards

N°15 has long been known for its’ haphazard communications.
Whilst bringing up the family (two sons) with my husband it was one female to three males so things were quite often either mixed or totally misunderstood in between the lone female and the males. I realized later that one of the reasons we sister’s-in-law got on so well on both sides of the Atlantic was for the fact that at least with a sister-in-law around one had another female voice!

Then there were all the visitors: how to let them know either the rules of the kitchen, house, sleeping quarters, shower schedule, laundry use, etc. Again in the early days fairly easy as usually we were here at the same time.

Then I had my first, long-term housemate and we needed to be able to leave notes as we came and went. Thus started the white boards.

On that was electric-static in the downstairs’ toilet worked very well. We left messages, drawings and fun communications.

Then I found a small white board which was great for just the “hi, bye” type of communication but totally inadequate for what we developed. Enter the larger whiteboard laying on the entry-way table. They have all been fun, they are all hard to clean and they are at this very moment awaiting the next lot of messages. A synopsis of our busy lives, of those who come and go – as anyone entering the toilet feels driven to leave a message – in short a great way of communicating.

lg. entryway board - daily with current housemate

In the toilet - sayings, celebrations, thanks, visitor's additions