"Life is too important to be taken seriously."

-Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oh, boy, has Germany changed me...

Last night, I found myself deciding to melt some Schmultz (which is pretty much just pure rendered pork fat) through some sauerkraut to have with dinner.

And it was good...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kann Kind... (wish it started with a C)...

So, The Caspi-Man has started school. 

First School Day

I had been anticipating and dreading this day in equal measure. Anticipating? Because, well, because it is one of life's important milestones, right? Dreading? Because, well, because:

a) it means getting up early and to school ON TIME (by 8am), every single school day. 

b) the end of spontaneously heading off on random adventures and holidays regardless of time of year. 

c) it won't be too long before he starts correcting my German grammar.

d) I will be expected to help him with his homework. In German. (See (c).)

d) many other reasons that I cannot be bothered listing... but suffice to say that (a) alone would be enough.

Here is the Caspi-Man's "first day" snapshot with his Schultüte:

 A german tradition - the Schultüte was historically filled with lollies and trinkets to share with classmates and win new friends.

Every time I see one I'm struck by how much they are like upside down Dunce's caps.

These days, the Schultüte is usually made at Kindergarden, and filled with surprises (& of course, lollies) to unpack at home. The Caspi-Man's included an alarm clock. (Have I mentioned that we have to be at school by 8 am? Every day!) 

My Mother-In-Law,  (aka The Schwierigmutter), was entrusted to take the compulsory family picture at the school gate:

Yep... this would be a typical example of why 
she is also known as the Schwierigmutter!

On day 3 of school,  I was confronted with my first dilemma in the helping of the homework.

The assignment? Bring something from home that starts with the same letter as the first letter of your name. 

Ok... that would be "C" ... let's think...

No, hang on, that would be K, wouldn't it? 

Ok, how about your rubber CROCODILE? 

Oh, K again. 

CAT? Bugger… 

How about... some CHOCOLATE? Oh, wait ... that's Schokolade – “S”, isn’t it….hmmmm… Chillies! You could take some chillies ... 

"That's a doof (dumb!) idea, mama!"

Drawing a complete blank, and with the Ger-Man away, I needed to consult the German to English translation dictionary (and of course "C" seems to be the shortest chapter).

Aha! Clown!

Bugger, we don't have any clown stuff (because let's face it ... they're slightly creepy). 

And then I got to "Computer" YAHOO! 

"You can take your 'Cars' Computer that Aunty P gave you... that's even 2 'Cs'!" 

"Good idea, Mama!"

The next day, at some ungodly and dark hour (ie before 8 am), we are underway to school  and the Caspi-Man says to me, "Good thing we remembered my LAPTOP, huh, Mama?"

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bound to come in handy...

I have just learnt that Nauru, the world's smallest island nation, was held by Germany from 1888 to the outbreak of WWI in 1914, at which point it was seized by ... 

guess which country?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

As a general rule-

many Germans like to make fun of their Dutch neighbours for their caravan-ing ways. (In some circles this is a national past-time.) If they're not making fun of them, then they'll be complaining about them clogging up the autobahns during peak holiday times with their mobile homes.

I find this attitude a bit rich when one considers that the Deutsch population supports 4 (yes, FOUR!!) specialist caravan-ing magazines:

Two of which put out additional summer editions...

Random rants and confessions:

This morning, in defiance of my Australian conditioning, I left the water running while brushing my teeth. (It felt very, very naughty.) One thing we do not have here is a water shortage. It has been torrenting down all morning. (I keep checking to see if the Caspi-man is developing gills.)

I think I am turning into a koala. I am sprouting grey, wirey, tufts above both my ears. While this is cute on koalas, it is not when applied to me. Meanwhile - the hair on the rest of my head is falling out at an alarming rate. Olli and I are competing to see who can shed the most... I'm ahead by a whisker ... and don't get me started on those.

I don't want new stuff (especially clothes). I just want all my favourite stuff (mainly clothes, and shoes) to be new again. I am beginning to detest clothes shopping with a passion. If I can actually find stuff I like, it's always a gazillion euros and they've sold out of my size. I could live with this, but casual aquaintances have started pointed out the freys and holes (yes, but only tiny ones) in my attire.

I am appalled by the state of Australian politics... just appalled. It really makes me want to emigrate. Oh, hang on a sec...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Culinary terms, as applied to our household:

Free Range:
Anything not consummed at the table. Can often be found, in a deconstructed state, under the cushions on the sofa.

Calorie controlled:
Any edible substance in limited supply that has to be shared with Papa. 

Locally sourced:
Whatever happens to be currently residing in our fridge or pantry.

Anything that moves of its own accord.

Genetically modified:
Any substance provided by Oma that has an effect of „modifying“ the Caspi-Man’s behaviour... (usually, not for the better).

Convenience Food:
Anything located on the bottom two shelves of the pantry or the bottom shelf of the fridge (excluding the vegetable crisper).

Processed Food:
Anything that requires handling beyond the removal of the packaging.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's NOT brain surgery, I'll have you know...

except, of course, when it actually IS.

In which case - I have discovered that the first thing that you should say to your neurosurgeon is:

 "I want to give you a piece of my mind"

... haha... hmmm...

The Ger-Man recently went and got himself a brain tumour. As far as brain tumours go, it was a fairly good one. It was called a hemangioblastoma, benign, and in a good position for complete removal.

To compress what could be a very long story - here are the key elements:

1)  diagnosed
2)  operated
3)  recovered
4)  better...

We were/are very, very lucky...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh, this picture needs a worthy caption...

It is a hippo, and if I am not mistaken, he is packing a bottle of beer, and is wearing what very much looks like a SS helmet:

(And, I can confirm, the yellow road sign behind his head warns of Kangaroos.)

Just to put him in context, here he is hanging with his mates:

We found him prominently displayed at the 2010 Kirmes... and we are still not sure what to make of him...

note: okay, a few people have advised me that the hippos are NOT wearing SS helmets, just standard storm trooper helmets with an Iron Cross... very different animal apparently. But still, I'm quite sure they are meant to be hippos, and that IS a bottle of beer... I stand firm on that.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Shamelessly Cheating on Catching up...

on my blog by using random facebook status updates from the last few months... (I think I may have done this before...)

30 March at 22:30

pjmel asks does anyone else remember the song from the Goodies that goes: "String, string, string, string, everybody loves string!" ??? ('Cause that's what's been going through my head- earworm style- except I've replaced the T with a P...)

06 April at 21:43

pjmel ventured out of the house today for the first time this year WITHOUT A COAT! (And I only got goosebumbs twice!) :-)

09 April at 21:18

pjmel wishes beyond belief that she was going

to her Darlink sister's baby shower @ Colmslie Beach tomorrow morning....

11 April at 23:12

pjmel fishmarkets today... followed by late lunch of roast pork stuffed with pinenuts and cranberries... followed by 2 little boys having a wildly fun (& clean!) time in a bath of blue gloop!

17 April at 10:21

pjmel is grateful that the Icelandic volcanic flotsam seemsto be having no impact on the sunshine...

30 April at 22:17

pjmel it's been 3 days since I used the bright and funky alphabet letters on our fridge to phonetically spell out some naughty words (yep - this is how I'm getting my kicks these days) ... and no-one in our household has noticed...

06 May at 18:54

pjmel is dismayed that winter seems to have returned to Deutschland, and frustrated that she'll be spending tomorrow morning failing a german grammar exam...

19 May at 18:42

pjmel wants a tardis... yep... I'd park it out the front...

24 May at 08:06

pjmel is very very excited to finally be an Aunty and he's a little carrot top (who'd have thought?)

31 May at 17:58

pjmel has just had a lovely trip to the UK, and a fabulous visit from Tamzinite, and herunbelievable surprise dinner party, and her very fun night out at Lady Gaga, and - oh yeah - that gorgeous little nephew that turned up to help make the last week so very memorable... AND there's yet another public holiday coming up ... yeah - all considered this being (!0) lark is not at all bad...

31 May at 18:20

pjmel just got to inform someone of her new nephew's name (...........) and the response? "Oh, sounds like he's gonna be either a world class spy or an international tennis player."

01 June at 22:35

pjmel so, Aus just played Denmark in a friendly, (1-0, yah!!) and I was just sorta wondering... who do you think Mary was backing?

04 June at 10:08

pjmel is packing bags again! We're off to Turkey tomorrow for a week of sunshine, beach & culture...

12 June at 16:34

pjmel has discovered something even more amusing at hotel breakfast buffets than watching Germans painstakingly peeling the tops off their hard-boiled eggs - and it's watching them using a knife & fork to surgically remove the pips from their slices of watermelon!

19 June at 09:27

pjmel just heard that apparently over 40 % of English men would rather watch their national team play football than watch the birth of their child... asked The Ger-Man which he'd prefer (given the choice) ... "Neither. Both are disturbing to watch."

25 June at 07:46

pjmel WHAT? HOW? I went to Amsterdam for just ONE day - and came back to find a ranga (redhead) now leads my country!

28 June at 19:43

pjmel 31 degrees in Düsseldorf = 40 degrees in Queensland terms. Why is this?

03 July at 20:49

pjmel just walked home through the Altstadt with her two VERY happy boys - and passed many people in red, black & gold singing the popular song from "Evita".

07 July at 06:33

pjmel has been thinking about cheezels today... cheezels can't be bought in Deutschland. I think I miss them more than twisties...

12 July at 00:11

pjmel wonders why the commentator on Germany TV kept using the term "Erste Verlierer" (first loser) to describe the Dutch team. 
(And yes, the Germans do have another word for runner-up...)

Yesterday at 17:57

pjmel 's hanging her head in shame after her Schwierig-mutter discovered that she only had (SHOCK! HORROR!) only one cake of soap left in the cupboard, and only 4 rolls of loo paper... how will my family survive???????

and it's such an awfully loooooong and arduous way to the nearest shops (200 mtrs down the road)... oh what peril my poor offspring faces!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sat. morning egg-head breakfast.

All photos and some of the creations by The Caspi-Man ...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Um, no, no I don't ...

Sorry, C & A, I really DO NOT *heart* this at all.
Not even if it is only €6.

Even The Caspi-Man wouldn't *heart* it ... as he has a heart and is still saying: "Mummy, I wish we hadn't beaten you 4-0... I wish we'd beaten you 4-1..."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Well that bloody sucked...

and I'm not even just talking about the game, or the fact that The Caspi-Man had firmly pledged his alliance to Germany, but also the long walk home through the centre of Düsseldorf being THE ONLY ONE dressed in green & gold...

GER 2 - AUS 1

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I have just coined a new word...


Very practical in its application. Have used it at least 5 times so far today.

And it is fun to say!

Go on - try it!

(Unless your name is Caspi-Man...)

My Darlink sister is -


Actually... she's had a bun in the oven for about 37 weeks.

Obviously I am a bit behind in my posting here...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

While we're on the subject of Easter....

  • My first ever attempt at Hot Cross Buns produced a batch of hot cross scones.
  • My 2nd batch was far more successful. On advice from my father (the baker) - use at least a third more yeast than you think... and double the sugar... and never get it started in milk -regardless of what the recipe says. (Guess what my recipe said?) Milk contains acid that yeast doesn't like.. always use warm water. Ok then.
  • That said... I think there is also a place for hot cross scones. Quite tasty.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weddings, rain, and crocuses...

I am attending a wedding today.

And it is raining in a melancholy way.

The guests are all happy, and smiling, and the bride radiant... (she is Australian and carries sunshine in her soul) ... the groom dashing and charming (he is German but was raised in France). The official ceremony took place this morning, and the reception will be this evening.

It is amazing how many Australians end up in Germany because of love.

A few end up here for work. I've heard that a few actually visit for Oktoberfest and in their hangover - actually forget to go home (although they are few and far between and mostly stay down south in Bavaria). But, for most, it is love the brings them here.

I've not actually heard of any that voluntarily choose to end up here. Germany is not like France or Italy. It's a nice place to visit but very few Antipodeans harbor long held dreams of permanently residing here.

And the german language is not pleasurable to learn like french or italian. Very few people voluntarily take evening classes or long european holidays to learn Deutsch. And while I've developed an appreciation of its merits - the german cuisine does not inspire many award winning restaurants or culinary accolades.

The rain is making me melancholy.

And, more than this, for the last few months I've been homesick in a way that is close to paralyzing. There is a black dog that has been residing inside me and he's eaten my sense of humour, my hopefulness, my motivation, my ability to appreciate all that I do have, and my german grammatical homework.

But tonight I will muzzle him, put him on a leash, and dance and rejoice in someone else's cross-cultural love and try to ignore how it will inevitably demand a life-time of being on conflicting timezones with family and loved-ones, missing significant birthdays (and birth days), no popping in for casual week-end barbies, and lots of expensive international travel.

woof. woof. woof.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My life according to Ella Fitzgerald...

Yet another random time waster that came to me awhile ago... the rules are:

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, answer these questions. Pass it on to 15 people you like and include me (not to be too presumptuous...) You can't use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It's a lot harder than you think! Repost as "my life according to (band name)"

Pick your Artist:
Ella Fitzgerald

Are you a male or female:

Describe yourself:
Things Aint What They Used to Be (And You Better Believe It)

How do you feel:

The Best is Yet to Come

Describe where you currently live:
Duke's Place

If you could go anywhere, where would you go?

Your favourite form of transportation:
Trav'ling Light

Your best friend is:
Just a simple Melody

You and your best friends are:
Like Someone to Love

What's the weather like:
The Sun Forgot to Shine This Morning

Favourite time of day:
Five O'Clock

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called:
I found my Yellow Basket

What is life to you:

It´s Wonderful

Your relationship:
I Got a Guy

Your fear:
My heart belongs to Daddy

What is the best advice you have to give:
T'aint What You Do (it's the way that cha do it)

Thought for the Day:
Bei Mir Bist Du Schon

How I would like to die:

My Last Affair

My soul's present condition:
I got it Bad (And that Aint Good)

What would you like to eat right now:

The Muffin Man

My motto:
A-Tisket A-Tasket

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Back to school!

Last week, in an attempt to reduce the emerging (and ever growing) chasm between my and the Caspi-Man's ability in the spoken german language, and to overcome my pidgin tendencies, I returned to language school.

For the next two months, for four hours every morning, I will be (once more!) struggling with the nuances and mysteries of German grammar. Well, actually, I do that pretty much everyday, but now I'm doing it, for the first time in 2 years, in a controlled and monitored setting. With tests. Ugh. (Like I wasn't feeling bleak and blah enough as it was!) German grammar does not come easily to me. It's a bit like a forced labour, with forceps and episiotomy, and no epidural. And nothing miraculous to fall in love with at the end.

But on the upside, it does stop me feeling blah and bleak about the mornings I had recently been spending on pretty much pure procrastination...

A friend pointed me in the direction of this site, where you can sign up for sentences delivered daily to your inbox. Here is a selection of last week's offerings:
  • Red' nicht mit mir in diesem Ton, du Wichtigtuer! (Don't talk to me in that tone, you busybody!)
  • Seit er einen seiner Ferraris verkaufen musste, leidet er unter schweren Depressionen. (Since he had to sell one of his ferraris, he suffers from severe depression.)
  • Vertrauen ist gut, Kontrolle ist besser. (Trust is good, control is better.)
  • Wenn sie ihre Regel hat, ist sie immer unausstehlich. (When she has her period she becomes insufferable.)
I am yet to use the 2nd example in its entirety. (However, if you replace the pronoun with "I", and the noun with Career/Homeland/Beloved extended Family, and the verb with leave/abandon/sacrifice, I probably use variations of this on a daily basis...)

Monday, March 1, 2010

I have just learnt ...

that it's not just cyclonic storms that get names here ( Xynthia passed Düsseldorf yesterday arvo and wrecked much havoc)... but so do ALL meteorological lows AND highs...

WHO, I wonder actually gets to name them?

And, are they subjected to the same rules and regulations (here in Germany) as humans - who must submit names for state approval to ensure they don't give their off-spring ridiculous monikers?

Curious minds wish to know...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Word of the day:

(die) Marotten.

Quirks. Or idiosyncrasies.

Rhymes with the German word for carrots. (No, not Möhren, the other word...) Bound to enhance my daily exchanges!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cold rainy days ...

spent home from Kindergarten ... baking biscuits...

Monday, February 8, 2010


I'm going to Paris.

Paris, France... for 3 glorious days!

I shall eat escargots, wear a beret, and visit art galleries.

I will try to remember something (anything?) from my 3 years of high school French -where I didn't do German - because when, in my life, was I ever going to NEED GERMAN?????? (And besides which, the french class got to go to a French restaurant once a semester.)

Actually, I will only be doing those things for 1 day - because on the other 2 I'll be attending a conference... my first since motherhood descended all those (5) years ago...

I am excited and apprehensive in equal measure.

It has been a long time since I've been a delegate at a conference. There was a time (in the distant, far away past) when I use to speak at them quite regularly... I do not remember the person I was back then... but I'm hoping the next 3 days with old colleagues might remind me...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

GODAMMIT! Wish I thought of this...

very original idea for a 5 year old's birthday party...

A behind the scenes look @ Düsseldorf International Airport!

The invitation was in the form of a boarding card, we went on the sky-train, and then met our guide who took us all on a special bus across the tarmac, in front of planes, (pilots waved at us), and past all the small jets, and fire trucks, and then we saw police helicopters land, before parking at the end of the runway and watching planes come over our heads to land.

How cool is that?

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