Just Like in Olden Times?

How bad is it when you have an ice-pick splitting headache and you’re out of ibuprofen and the only place you could buy it is a pharmacy (stupid rules) and it’s a Sunday (stupid stupid rules) so only emergency pharmacies are open and the nearest one is probably 15 miles away and probably anyway closed by this late in the day, so you resort to gin, undiluted, instead and wish to holy hell there had also been a bottle of tonic in the house or at least some ice cubes in the freezer?  It’s not really working, though.  Thank god it’s not, like, you know, a leg that needs to be sawed off but I guess they used to use entire bottles of whisky for that, not a tiny porcelain teacup of gin.

Wading Briefly into the Current Pop Culture Stream

Yesterday I extracted myself from the mountain of deferred garden maintenance (about 30 years’ worth) long enough to go see a movie in an actual theater.  And I even ended up liking it.  A Star Is Born.  Definitely worth the price of admission.

In a nutshell:  Lady Gaga can act!  Bradley Cooper can sing!  And, wow, for those of us utterly out of the auto-tuned pop cultural loop, yow, Lady Gaga can really sing!  (Seriously, I had no idea.)  But most importantly.  Holy cow.  That was Andrew Dice Clay?!

Not sure what the Big Lebowski cowboy was doing there though, except that he must have stepped out of a time machine.  He hasn’t aged a day.

Now someone please get the song out of my head.  I need to get a restraining order.  It won’t leave me alone.

What Do You Mean, It’s Not About Me?

I’m always that person a dollar short and a day late to the party, the person driving to work on empty streets wondering, are they having a holiday and nobody told me? Where the hell is everyone?  Has there been an evacuation? A tsunami warning? A zombie apocalypse? In other words, can I be forgiven for thinking that introspection should be all about me? Or did everybody else get the memo that it’s not, oh, gosh, a billion years ago already, and there simply just isn’t any excuse for me?

My friend Sarah sent the memo to me only yesterday or so and I feel… schooled. You mean introspection isn’t lying on your bed listening to the Smiths thinking, how would I feel if my girlfriend was in a coma? Introspection is more like, was I a good person today or was I a jerk? Did I do the right things for the right reasons, or, if I actually did do the right things, did I only do them so I could be like, whoa, I am awesome.  Introspection is also: how did the way I behave affect other people? And how can I do better/be a better person in the future? (Unless you are evil and/or have no fucks left to give, in which case, insert alternative adjectives above as necessary.)

I have been so schooled, I won’t be rolling my eyes at lint-picking navel-gazers anymore, not even at those of you with what I would call an emo hairdo (and which everyone under 40 probably just calls… a hairdo). Because I seriously now kind of get how introspection could make the world a better place. I apologize for scoffing.

And now I am off to ponder whether or not I am really as nice as I  like to think I am, or if I’m just deluding myself.  And I’ll try not to feel too smug about making this magnificent contribution toward world peace.

Today’s Great Epiphany

I am generally years (decades!) behind the times, so George Lucas probably addressed this in the breath after explaining about reel two, deck two, but it hit me today, as I was pondering the next door neighbor’s adorable, rusty-brown, curly-haired teddy bear poodle that is called Sara instead of something fitting like Chewie or Bathmat: was Chewbacca named after chewing tabbacco?

Sudden Cold Quease

Depending on how you count it, there are hundreds of thousands of words in English.  We native speakers are proud of that.   We like to think our language has more words than most (although we’re probably just full of ourselves).  On the other hand, my experience of learning German has been one of frustration.  It’s like being that proverbial Inuit person who is just stuck with snow, sleet, and hail in English and must think what dumb lunks we are and what a stupid language we have.  I am always smacking into the wall that is there are several different words for something in English, all with slightly different shades of meaning, but only one rigid, totally insufficient word available in German.  Although, of course, I can’t think of a single example at the moment.  (And don’t say, “But–compound words!” because if squishing words together (like Aufenthaltserlaubnis (residence + permit) for residence permit) doesn’t get you a new concept that your language didn’t have before, I’m sorry, it just doesn’t count in the count.)  (Although I’m not quite sure which side of the fence I come down on for all of German’s “thingy” words…  Fahrzeug (drive + thingy) for automobile, Flugzueg (flight + thingy) for airplane, Schlagzeug (hit + thingy) for drum set, etc.)

Anyway, whether or not English has more words than the average bear of a language, I think we can agree it has a lot.  And yet, it always seems to be missing some.

This morning, as I was working on a story, the latest word I decided was missing was “quease”.  Yes, okay, we have queasiness, which is exactly what it would mean.  But the phrase, “… hit by sudden cold quease…” is so much more satisfying than “… hit by sudden cold queasiness…”  Is there someone I could petition to make this change?!?

If it makes you feel any better, I’m always working on improving German for the Germans.  If new compound words are encouraged, why has no one taken me up on my suggestion of “Arschschmerz”  (ass + pain)?  Would not shouting at someone, You are an ass-pain, not be the ultimate in satisfyingly efficient insults to hurl?  Germans like efficiency, right?  (Actually, no, what they like is thoroughness… but that’s a whole other rant.)  Also I am always wondering why they say, “hau rein,” (dig in, more or less) when food finally arrives at the table instead of “cau rein” (chew in), which is literally what they are inviting you to do.

But you have to be careful with this game.  I am always yapping on to my neighbors how much my chickens LOVE the green tops of carrots (it’s like a great white shark feeding frenzy when you throw in a bunch).  To me the most logical way to express the green tops of carrots in German is to say “REDACTED” (carrot + heads).  But it turns out that this compound word is not far off the N-word in English.  Okay, the target is different–historically it refers to North Africans and now to Muslim people in general–but the feel is the same.  (Just in case you’re wondering, it’s not that Muslims are thought to look like carrot heads, it’s that the word for carrot sounds like the word for Moor, which is apparently also not a nice word in English, although it pops up in dictionaries with neutral definitions like this: a member of the group of Muslim people from North Africa who ruled Spain from 711 to 1492.)

Mohrrübenkraut (carrot + tuber + herb), Mohrrübenkraut, Mohrrübenkraut.  I’ve really got to get used to saying that instead.  That’s a correct German compound word for carrot greens.  Because if I don’t get the hang of it, someday I’ll find myself gushing about my chickens to some stranger, only to drive them into a sudden cold quease, after which they slap me for having said something horrible and foul.  Or worse, I’ll make someone feel really bad.

ps- Contrary to popular belief, it is not always possible to create a compound German word.  While double checking on the handy dandy foreign language dictionary website Leo.org that Kraut can indeed be translated as “herb” (although going in I was 99.999% sure), I learned that the English phrase Kraut-bashing (which, if you know any Brits, you know is a popular British pastime) has to be translated into three whole entirely separate German words–“Schlechtmachen der Deutschen” (belittling the Germans)–although, okay, okay, you got me on this one–“Schlechtmachen” (bad + to make) is a compound word… and it’s even a compound word that I would graciously allow to be counted as a word in addition to bad (adj) and to make (v) if I were the person in charge of counting up all the different possible words in all the different possible languages.


I have little experience, my thumbs are not green, and normally here what doesn’t rot because it has rained so much the yard has turned into a swamp gets eaten by slugs (there are so many, a pileup on the autobahn can cause a pileup (or, well, an accident that totals a car) on the autobahn).  So when a packet of zucchini seeds came into my possession sometime in late March or early April, I planted not one, nor two, but seven or eight seeds.  Out of the plants that sprouted, four survived to be transplanted into the garden and all I can say now thank goodness the slugs immediately razed two of the plants to stumps that have never produced so much as another leaf.  Because two thriving zucchini plants is one and three quarters of a thriving zucchini plant too many.  It’s only August 2 and before this freakishly warm, dry, and sunny summer is over, I am going to die of zucchini toxicity.

I have learned what nearly 200 years’s worth of home gardeners have learned before me:  two zucchini plants will reliably deliver a total of 1-2 lbs of zucchini a day every day for MONTHS.

I don’t even particularly like zucchini, but I cannot bring myself to toss them straight onto the compost pile.  We have been eating stir-fried zucchini, zucchini omelets, zucchini charred with runner beans, and way more ratatouille than is humane.  I have been driven to zoodles (or, rather, hand cut zlinguini because I refuse to go out and buy a spiralizer), zucchini pizza crust, and zucchini smoothies (which are edible, but then, so are cold, leftover, unsalted French fries).

My neighbors have started crossing the street to avoid meeting me, thereby avoiding the risk of being gifted (again) with zucchinis.  Even the chickens who normally fight over anything greener and juicier than dried chicken feed corn are like, “NO, LADY.  NO MORE ZUCCHINI OR WE’LL REPORT YOU TO THE SPCA.”  Even what few slugs remain, clinging to life in the uncharacteristically dry garden, are totally over the fruits of my zucchini plants’ labors (as opposed to being totally all over them).

I’d make zucchini bread (because that is the best way to eat zucchinis) except that I’d feel compelled to eat it and these days wheat gives me puffy eyes, a puffy throat, asthma, and dandruff and makes me snore so badly I wake myself up in the middle of the night.  Also 1-2 lbs of zucchini a day = 6 loaves of zucchini bread a day.

I’ve even reached the point where I am considering pickling them even though, ew, pickled zucchinis?? and even though for me pickling is more of a fungal culturing method than it is a means of preserving food to get you through the long, dark, cold, otherwise phytochemical-free winter (jk- we do have grocery stores here).

The moral of the story here clearly is: unless you live in some sort of commune, preferably with 50 to 100 other people, do not ever plant more than one zucchini plant in your garden.


Shouting out into the Aether

That first post on any new account or blog or website always feels like being 52, that whale that calls and calls but no other whale ever hears.  The internet is not as deep as the ocean yet will anyone hear what is posted here?  Or will my shouts  reach no ears through the vastness of the aether?