Monday, July 30, 2007

Stormy weather

The view from my window. Note the lack of blue sky. In fact, it's pissing down but, as I have just discovered, the rain doesn't photograph so well.

So much for four seasons, this year I think I've only had two so far: drizzly winter and slightly warmer autumn. This is now the fourth consecutive week where it has rained at least four times in one day almost every single day. I now have full sympathy for the insane drop-everything-and-have-a-barbeque behaviour of people in the north when the sun comes out - I didn't think it was possible to have an entire summer with no sun. It turns out it is.

Luckily I have a ready collection of melancholy music, most of my music being already quite melencholy. At the moment I'm listening to the dulcit tones of Holly Throsby, earlier I had some Staring Girl, a band from Kiel that my flatmate put me onto, and next shall be the Howling Bells and some Jolie Holland. If I'm still here and don't have to go to work Kasey Chambers'll be next. With a cup of tea in my hand I could be back in Sydney at the this time of year.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Hanging with the Czech ladies

Last week I had the glorious pleasure of accompanying my two cousins to their grandmother's holiday house near the German border, in the Czech Republic. We drove for seven hours across Germany with a four month-old baby in the back seat, his devoted mother breastfeeding him every two hours or so, and the three of us (or rather four) singing maniacally to a CD of English children's songs I brought back from London. If I ever have to hear "If you're happy and you know it" again my head is going to start spinning. We arrived at a little wooden hut facing a lake, surrounded by other wooden huts, to an enthusiastic welcome from the Czech-only speaking auntie, twelve year old baby crazy cousin and grandmother, as well as their mum who had arrived a week previously. And fruit-filled dumplings, hot, with powdered sugar. And a hammock, which became my second home for the week while the four adults (I don't count myself) discussed their lives in Czech, only to occasionally ask me a question through my cousins, about my plans, my family, my eating habits, my ankle.
Actually not speaking Czech was a really strange experience - having to nod and smile with half the inhabitants of a very small house was a little stressful at first. But by the last day Eva was talking at me in Czech in the kitchen and I was happily not comprehending anything she had to say. At first it was weird though, especially when the grandma asked me within the first five minutes why I wasn't married and why I was a vegetarian. But obviously there were also benefits - she couldn't ask me directly for example.
It was so lovely to spend time with all these energetic and positive women, as well as a cute baby. I came back to Kiel with so much good energy - it's lovely.

The spa town near to the hut we stayed in, Fransensbad in German. Gorgeous yellow and white buildings, in the style of the Austro-Hugarian empire, surrounded by parks, fountains and the springs themselves.

One of the springs, I'm not actually filling up the bottle because my cousin said she'd throw up if she had to smell it. It did smell a bit like a year eight science room.

My aunt goaded all young women of childbearing age without children into touching this statue, which is supposed to increase your fertility.

The view from the hut.

Susie and Junus looking lovely.

Little Junus looks like his granddad.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Adult content

I've been an ESL teacher for a few years now and I've heard some pretty funny things. One of my favorites is the German tendency to confuse wife with woman so you end up with sentences like: me and my woman went to the football (mind you I still confuse the words humid and gay in German to everyone's amusement, so I'm not one to talk). Japanese and Korean students had many other errors which were odd, or interesting, or bizarrely sexual. However, the best mistake I've heard yet was made by my 18 year old elementray student today.

The background is this: we were doing an activity where we had to guess what each other does at particular times of the day. As in: at two o'clock you work, at ten o'clock you sleep etc. In German the words for eat and food are the same, so you say I cook eat. The word for cook is kochen, pronounced with a soft ch in the back of the throat. So the activity is going very well and we're almost finished when my student has to guess what I do at seven in the evening.

My student: you eat c*ck at seven.
Me: (best poker face you ever saw) Nooooo... I think you mean cook?
Him: Yes, c*ck.
Me: COOK. C-OO-K. I cook my food for dinner.
Him: You c*ck your dinner.

And so it went on. I'm looking forward to the other teacher tomorrow being asked about her nighttime activites. If his English wasn't so bad I'd almost suspect him of knowing what he was saying.