KathyBou’s Blog

A sampling of things that are going on and around.

Archive for February 2009

Karneval and Lent

with 3 comments

In Louisiana it’s called Mardi Gras.  Here in the Rheinland (the western part of Germany near the Rhein River), it’s called Karneval.  Karneval begins on November 11 but isn’t generally celebrated until the last weekend before Lent (this past weekend) and ends today, marked by Rosenmontag “Rose Monday”.

There are big parades.

Candy and treats are thrown into the crowd instead of beads.

People dress up like happy, funny creatures.  There’s not much fake blood or fangs.  And it’s too cold and rainy for slutwear. Sigh.

Otherwise, I’d guess the drunken rowdiness is the same as Mardi Gras just one day earlier. Perhaps there are less firearms here? Oooh, an American gun joke, was that really necessary?

Did you know that the word carnival comes from the Latin “Carne Vale” – literally Goodbye Meat?  And  so marks the beginning of Lent.

In the past I’ve given up things for Lent, like chocolate or sweets in general.  One year, a friend gave up bread and butter.  Since I’m almost 3 months pregnant, umm… I’m keeping bread.  Butter though, I could take or leave.

For those of you who are also light on religious history (I include myself in this group), Lent lasts roughly 40 days.  Different churches calculate the forty days in different ways, but the forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert where according to the Bible, he endured temptation by Satan.  Through prayer, penitence, giving and self-denial, this period is meant to prepare everyone who participates for the resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

Whether you are religious or not, the idea of fasting or of giving up something (at least for a period of time) is appealing, isn’t it?

A few other interesting ideas for what to give up on Lent:

After all those great ideas –  I’m thinking about giving up cheese.  This isn’t my favorite food but is one I’ve been craving recently.

I’m also giving up foul language.  At least in spoken form.  Achieving zero explicatives in my head could take longer.   It’s not that I say ‘bad’ words often, but I do say them here or there.  It would be a very good habit to lose before we have an impressionable baby in the fold, no?

Do you have something you want to give up?

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Written by Kat

February 23, 2009 at 11:45 am

Posted in germany, tradition

Locked out

with one comment

Everything started out peachy keen this morning.  I got up early, about 15 minutes before my alarm would go off, then I lounged until it rang.   I did my morning routine, packed my day bag, and even clothes for the gym. My, my Miss Good Intentions.  I went back to my PC briefly, then pulled on my coat and gloves, grabbed by bag, and closed the door.

Standing in the entryway, listening to the click of the door, my mind suddenly screams “KEYS!”  Scheisse.  Several thoughts go through my head in the next 30 seconds, including some very destructive ones about how I could break back in.  Counter-arguments came just as fast.  What’s amusing is that my counter-arguments are very different than I would have had, if say, I was still living back in Florida.  For example:

  1. If I break into our front window, it’s going to let all this cold, wet, nasty winter inside and I may regret that later, as soon as tonight.
  2. Even if I don’t care about winter getting inside, I’ll have to call someone to fix said window, and a painful English-German conversation will surely follow.
  3. Unless I leave now I’m going to miss my bus, and be stuck out in the rain-snow for another 40 minutes. The occurrence  of snow fall and also of public transportation are both mythical in FL.

More on bullet #2.

The painful English-German conversation usually turns into multiple painful English-German conversations.   First you have to find out, for example, what “window repair” is in German.  Then, you have to find one of these  in town. Sometimes the internet helps, sometimes coercing your German coworkers is more effective.  Then you call, hoping they speak “a little bit of English.”  Then you have to leave work to be there when they want to come because no one works either early or late in Germany.  It may be against the law, seriously.

Then, when the repair person comes, he or she will probably try to ask you questions in German (and yes, I do think he/she has the right), but what follows is usually convoluted, at best.  Hand gestures resembling charades ensues. It’s even better when a passing neighbor stops by to help.  3+ individuals miming out household repairs is quite a party, let me tell you.

Last year, and every year I suppose, a guy comes to our complex to inspect each appartment’s heating unit.  So this year I recognized him, and his sign-up for an appointment sheet, no problem.  But then, maybe a month later, a different guy comes around for the heater.  I experienced some confusion, dismay, and maybe a little paranoia.  After charades, I eventually figured out he was there to clean the heater, or rather to schedule an appointment to clean our heater.  Oh! Okay! Good reason to miss another half a day of work.

Right, so back to this morning.   I came up with enough good reasoning to run after the bus.  From there I called the landlord who called me back and said he “might have the keys but he has to look for them.”  Since D is over 3 hours away by car and had worked late, I was dreading to call him, but I did anyway, and we strategized how to best fix my goof.  Later, the landlord called again and said he found some keys but they might not be the right keys and that he’d meet me at 5:30 p.m.

So I was anxious half the day – if the keys weren’t right I’d have to find a locksmith or make D drive in snow, tired. Bah.

Happy ending though, the keys were the right ones.  D and I have already decided we need to hide another pair someplace so this doesn’t happen again soon.

Written by Kat

February 10, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Posted in germany, Life

Tagged with , ,

The reason I’ve been so tired

with 5 comments

Is neither from too much:

* photo credit, German Federal Archives

Nor is it from too little:

*photo credit, Wikipedia Commons by Paul Goyette

Mostly it is just this:

We’re having a baby!

Whew, it feels good to get that out of the way.

And yes, we’re thrilled.  Much (probably much much) more to come soon.

Written by Kat

February 8, 2009 at 11:44 am

Posted in bebe baby, family