On chopping onions

K: how do you want me to chop these onions?

KC: I don’t care. I don’t know how to chop onions in multiple ways. I think just stab them to death..

K: so little squares are ok?

KC: yes.

Love it ๐Ÿ™‚

On the [evening after the] morning after the ride before

Apart from sleeping through my alarm (s) I felt ok when I woke up. I even stretched without too much of a problem.

Then I stood up to walk to the toilet.

FUdge!

My feet, my knees, my legs, my shoulders, my elbows – all the moving parts – hurt. A lot. If that’s what getting old feels like, I don’t want to.

A little while later, after quarter of an hour on the erg (ouch!), and breakfast, and my usual faffing about, I could walk again, mostly without wincing.

Then I had to get back on the bike and cycle to work again..

..at this point I didn’t even bother trying to rename my expletives.

I am told that the second day is the worst.

I hope that’s true.

***

In other news, I now have a mattress! Whee!

(I also have a better pillow but the pillow case is in the wash)

***

The neighbour with a car helped me carry it up the stairs and into my flat.

The seller had rolled it up and tied it with string like a roly-poly pudding*.

I have never seen such knots!

I set to work undoing the strings, and getting the mattress into place on the bed while the-neighbour-with-a-car talked (and talked and talked).

It seems he’s capable of multitasking though, because I’ve just found this:

I don’t know anyone who ties string so neatly…

***

Goodnight people!

Zzzzzzzzzzzz

* Tom Kitten

On making ones bed (but not lying on it)

I’ve mostly slept on an airbed since moving into my flat. The first one died, despite the stars, and I replaced it with a second of the same sort. I love airbeds, especially the deep ones, but since winter arrived it’d started to get damp underneath and I really really don’t want the floor to go mouldy. Time for a proper bed.

***

Before Christmas I saw a nearly new mattress advertised in the small ads by someone who was planning on moving soon. My car went on strike on the day I wanted to pick it up but the seller said he’d keep it for me.

I also saw a bed for sale (different seller) and asked if I could collect it after Christmas. The lady said she wouldn’t reserve it for me but she’d let me know if it was still there in the new year.

It turns out that the bed was still available when I got back from England and now it’s mine!

***

I’m still car-less, so yesterday I walked the mile or so each way to the bed-lady and back multiple times, carrying pieces of bed.

The slats were awkward but not excessively heavy.

The sides and middle bar were by contrast enough to make me stop every few minutes to get my breath back. Luckily they were all taped together. Even more luckily, I didn’t knock anyone out with it on the way home, though I did come quite close a couple of times when I turned round…

One of my new neighbours (lives in the same house, don’t really know him all that well though) came home as I’d manouvered the beast up the stairs to my landing. I leant against the door holding the beast upright and trying to catch my breath and gather enough energy to find my key and open the door without knocking it over.

He laughed, “how come you sound so close to death, just from a couple of flights of stairs?” I nodded at the metal bundle, “The stairs would’ve probably been ok if I hadn’t carried it a mile first…” He picked it up and put it down again pretty quickly.. “must be close to 30kg!” he said. I nodded. “Yeah, could be. Certainly unwieldy”.

We talked for a while about cars and furniture and the state of his work project, (but not about cabbages or kings) and when the landing light starting getting annoying (it turns itself off after a minute or two) I opened my front door, took the beast into the sitting room, and came back out to the landing, leaving my hall light on. We chatted for another couple of minutes before he headed upstairs and I closed and started re-locking my door.

He stopped on the stairs and turned round, “Going back out again?!”

“Na klar, got to get the next bits of the bed”

“Bits? As in more than one? How many are there?”

“Two. The bedsteads”

“Wait a minute, you can’t carry them both at once and it’s already dark. I’ll come with you, it can be my good deed for the day”.

So that saved me a trip.

“If you need anything else carrying, let me know..” *

“Rolled up mattress? Tomorrow evening? By car?”

“Yup – can do”

“Brilliant. Until tomorrow then”

“Until tomorrow.”

No one should say things as open-ended as this to me without really meaning it. I am liable to take the 63359 inches they weren’t offering as well as the one they were.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

***

Today (an extra day off work – whee!!) I packed up the air bed and assembled my new bed, washing all the pieces as I went.

It is a lot bigger than it looked in the pictures, much taller than my windowsill, and it took me a while to figure out where to put it so that it didn’t waste too much space or look too much like a cage. It meant rearranging almost all the other furniture in the room, but I think it’s the best place for it, even if I’m not happy with the placement of the cupboards yet.

Now all I need is the mattress!

***

Later:

The neighbour who promised to pick up the mattress with me didn’t. He wasn’t at home when I knocked and I don’t have his number. I will try asking again tomorrow, otherwise I will have to find another willing victim.

Argh.

Looks like I won’t be sleeping in my new bed tonight after all.

On the difference between days

Yesterday I mended the tip-ex mouse, helped the secretary with some tricky stuff on her computer and maybe taught a year 8 kid some maths (“maybe” because I’m not sure how much stuck.). I feel those are 3 good uses of a day.

Today I have nothing of note to mention. I assume I must have done something because I’ve been awake for many hours. When I try to remember my achievements, all I can think of are the things I still haven’t done yet. Things that need doing, things I could have done earlier, things I should probably be doing right now instead of writing this.

Funny how different days can be. Or at least one’s attitude towards them.

On cheering on v. cheering up

Kate asked me earlier if I would prefer a partner who would cheer me up when I was down, or one who would cheer me on when I was doing well. (Or at least words to that effect).

I was at work, and a bit distracted, but I automatically said, “both”, followed a little while later by, “but if I had to choose, then one who can cheer me up”.

Now, on the train home from work, I wonder why I chose that.

I think, although I’m not sure, that I can find other people to cheer me on when things are working well.

On a good day, I can even cheer myself on.

On a bad day, I am mostly incapable of seeing or thinking enough good things to bring me back up to neutral, never mind to happy. I’m a determinedly independent climber, so I don’t often ask for help to get out of my hole. When I do, it’s generally because it’s got really really deep, so deep I can hardly see the sky, and have started forgetting that there’s life outside the hole. That’s quite late to ask, and the climb is a long one. Much longer than necessary.

If my partner could do his magic on my mood every time it started digging, I could probably do the rest.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

Maybe I’m not actually that good at cheering myself on.

Maybe, if I had a personal cheerleader, I wouldn’t feel the need to dig in the first place. 

I think I’ll stick with both. That covers most, if not all eventualities.

๐Ÿ™‚

Good question though.

On [not] helping

I spent a lot of yesterday getting on and off trains.

I love the freedom of county tickets and days off – the freedom to do exactly what I want, where I want to do it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Each time I realised the current plan wasn’t going to work, I changed it, checking the timetables in the stations and on my phone as needed.

I took my time over breakfast, looking at churches, letting the dried fruit salesman persuade me to buy horrendous amounts of ginger, walking through town, perusing the postcard stands and eating local sausages from a street market stall.

Overall, everything worked out well, but I ended up waiting for half an hour on a semi-desolate platform in a fairly small town / large village.

A Turkish guy asked me in very broken German if I could help him work out which trains to catch across most of southern Germany to Munich. He’d got a ticket, but had missed the train he was supposed to get, and was a little bit out of his depth.

I’ve been stranded on enough platforms with little or no idea which train to catch or how to read the timetable or what all the abbreviations mean, to know how helpless it makes you feel. Even if you speak the language it’s tough in a strange place.

I’ve also been helped by more people than I can remember. People who have helped me figure out what sort of train (local, regional, national, express) I’m allowed on to with which ticket, which buttons to press to get the machine to talk to me, where to punch the ticket before getting on the train, how to get to the platform I need, …….

Whatever.

My phone battery survived just long enough to look up a connection for him and write it on the back of an envelope. We figured out which platform he needed and all was good. He phoned his German speaking supervisor (he was supposed to be meeting them, but was running late) and asked me to tell them we’d sorted things out and that he was on his way but was going to be there later than previously arranged.

In the middle of the phone call, an elderly-ish gentleman came up and demanded to know where he was headed, he picked up some of what I was telling the supervisor and proceeded to read him the timetable, loudly, jabbing his finger at the board and asking if he ‘couldn’t even read’. (The fact that the timetable only tells you the end destination and maybe 30% of the stops (per journey) was irrelevant. As was the fact that he needed to change trains a couple of times).

I finished the call, already irritated that he had talked at me throughout most of it (can’t stand that!), whereupon he told me he’d watched the guy miss the train he needed twice.

Twice, when the train goes once an hour, means he’s been watching him for two hours.

!!!!!!

What’s with that???

What could make a person spend two hours sitting on a platform watching a foreigner miss multiple trains???

And then, having spent two hours being remarkably unhelpful, what would make them decide to get involved once the situation’s already been resolved???

I really really don’t understand some people.

On yelling

Early evening. Dark, except for a few streetlights. A couple with a dog. Walking.

Behind them, at the far end of a side street 2 figures can just about be made out in the shadows.

Yelling. Shouting. Mean words, angry voices. Screams. “Help!” Shrieks. “Help! Let go of me! Help! He’s going to kill me! Please help me!”

One of the figures starts running, followed by the second, arms raised and flailing. The shouting continues.

The couple stops, listens, looks at each other, turns around, begins walking towards the screaming. Purposefully, intentionally, with racing hearts but level heads, unintentionally confusing the dog.

When they reach the figures, they’ve stopped screaming. Stopped flailing. They’re walking together, laughing at a private joke.

The man, cool up to the moment, loses his cool, yells at the laughing teenagers on their way back from football training, tells the dog “heel”, tells the boys that the next time the wolf might be real, that there might really be a situation requiring help from a passerby. That they should never risk lessening the power of calling for help.

The boys laugh, scowl, walk home together.

Hopefully, they didn’t stop learning when they left the field.

****

I don’t particularly like dogs, and I get really annoyed with DB’s dad’s dog who we’re looking after again, because he’s incapable of walking on one side of the pavement at the same speed as I’m going, and also because we have to reduce our walks, to cater for his decrepitness.

This morning, on a short walk through the woods, involving stopping to sniff every tree, I told DB off for yelling at the dog.

This evening, on a short walk through the housing estate, I told him I was proud of him for yelling at two kids.

Do I place kids below dogs? No. I’m not nearly German enough for that. I just really think civilisation needs people to respect cries for help, and not mess about when there’s no problem.

image

On hoping for the best

I hope the paramedics got there in time.
He was crouching on the ground holding his hands over his heart and his eyes were wet with tears.

I was on the way to the platform, on the way to work.

I pointed him towards the doctor’s door (10m further) and then remembered she doesn’t get in until late on a Monday. I reached for my phone, but before I’d taken it out of my pocket, two ladies bustled out of a cafรฉ and towards the man. One of them was holding a phone.  I asked if they’d call for help and they nodded and rushed past me, one to the man and one to the side of the road.

I left them to it and carried on towards the platform.

I really really hope they can do something for him…

On improvisations on a swede

I found a swede in my local supermarket last week.
That is a big deal here in Berlin where people generally don’t eat them.

image
A picture for RosieSmrtiePants (Stolen from http://mkalty.org/swede/)

Anyway, I didn’t eat it last week because I wasn’t home in time to peel, chop, boil and mash it before my DB died of starvation.

Yesterday was my chance.

I spent almost 10 minutes noisily looking for the peeler (and sorting out the drawer it should have been in but which was full of Schneebesen* instead) before DB came and dug it out of a different drawer so he could go back to watching TV in peace.

It only occurred to me once I’d strained the water (and reopened and messed up the schneebesen drawer) that my masher was still in a box marked ‘kitchen’ in the depths of my in-laws’ cellar.

I like to think I’m open minded and easy going. Sometimes I convince other people to think so too. Yesterday wasn’t one of those days. I assume one can eat swede cubes without mashing them. I can only assume because I always eat mine mashed and I wasn’t prepared to change my swede eating experience just because I hadn’t got round to unpacking yet.

I armed myself with a spatula and set upon the arduous task of squishing 3 million cubes against the side of the saucepan.

I was approximately a third of the way through when DB started prowling. He has a special kind of prowl reserved for when he’s hungry and I haven’t finished cooking yet, and this was that kind of prowl.

He asked if he could help so I pushed the saucepan in his direction.

This is what happened next:

image

I was speechless.

I’ve seen (and participated in) a lot of improvisation, but I’ve never seen (or thought about) anyone mashing a swede with a cup.

It worked though, so I was also very impressed.

I truly have a man of many talents

๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

* Schneebesen literally means snow brooms but physically means handwhisks… And DB says English is a silly language ๐Ÿ˜‰

On holding ones tongue

Holding your tongue until you have something good to say is generally a good idea.

Being so full of negativity that you practically explode from not talking, isn’t.

Especially if your negativity is toxic enough to radiate into your surroundings.

I don’t have a lot of answers or suggestions for you, I just know that I find it difficult to be where you are and that that sucks.

Please try and find a way to unload at least some of the “anti”-luggage.

Please.

Pretty please, with sprinkles or cherries or grated chocolate or whatever floats your particular tasteboat.

It would make it easier for me to be around you and might even make you feel good enough to find things to talk about.

In turn that would improve things more and from there it’s a good spiral upwards.

Now you just need to figure out how to let go.

I’m afraid I can’t help you with that…