Monday, January 28, 2019

One for me…

And the mouse.
0 for Clea.

I have two cats and somehow with all the company, spoiling from my student and perhaps, yes, even age they seem to have reversed personalities.

If before Babette was intrepid, always wanting out, always bringing back “presents” (I try
and try to see them as that: not working) and in general being lively, she seems to have decided that the best place in the house is cuddled up next to me on the desk (underneath which is a small heater) or simply laying on my typing hand.

Clea, who never wanted to go out – unless one opened the door wide and waited for the whole house to cool down – is now the one to sneak out if the door is open. She is very good a finding “presents” and I should truly know by now that I need to check before I cave and let her in. I didn’t Sunday night. It didn’t dawn on me though that she had brought anything in with her until I heard her dashing around underneath the desk in the living room. Oh no.
Yet another “chase the mouse in hopes of rescuing it” game. And we all know how much I love those!

I ended up moving furniture, frames, footstools and the like. This time fortunately the mouse never got under the sofa (cornered in the wood box it did jump out, almost made it up a stair, did get downstairs in the cellar). I was finally able to catch it in my (long)handled dustpan and keep it there (third try) with the brush of same and got it outside, still alive. Like I said One for me and the mouse – zero for Clea. Won’t happen often if ever again, still I bask in the glow of achievement once in my life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Nursery rhymes

Remember the one:
“Star light,
Star bright,
I wish I may
I wish I might
Have the wish
I wish tonight”

Now that is still a favorite but we need to invent one for the first snow.
The day when gentle flakes do their work of covering up the lack of
leaves in the trees; the dirt and mud on the ground; the absence of
flowers anywhere; fields empty of grains waving in the breeze.

OK since I grew up in Southern California maybe I missed the rhymes
That might have been prevalent in more northern climes – but I did an
Internet search and really didn’t come up with much at all.

Such is life
Time to invent my own.

“The wind grows chill,
The sky turns gray,
Winter is on its way,
Snow falls on the sill.”

Still doesn’t quite take in the beauty of that first snowfall
So I guess I’ll keep trying.

Snow in the neighborhood

street lamp and snowy branches
Leaving up the lights

Monday, January 21, 2019

A few wee years ago…

I gave birth to my first son.

Where have the years flown – I can still remember every detail of that day!

I started having mild pains mid-morning, but by early afternoon with my mother and husband asking every 10 minutes if I didn’t think it was time to go, I went simply to get them off my back. This meant that I had time for all the joys of prep, which I won’t detail here, only to say that the prep was worse than the experience of giving birth.

My husband actually accompanied me into the birthing room (had to look that one up as I knew it as the “salle d’accouchement”) and kept well to my head. He was extremely lucky as the nurse on duty was Austrian so she could explain it all to him in German. She was also very kind as seeing that I was going to deliver soon, she stayed on the extra half-hour after her shift was up and was there when the baby arrived. At one point during the rather short process, I allowed that that was enough, we could stop now and I’d come back and finish the next day. It’s true, the pain (all 10 minutes of it in my case) is soon forgotten, the joy remains a lifetime.

This year the joy is augmented by the fact that this son is, in turn, awaiting his first baby – another boy.
10 days old

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!