Saturday, June 18, 2016

Life Lately

I enjoy the "Life Lately" posts of Adventitious Violet, which she posts periodically, and since I know I don't have time to sit down for a thought-provoking post about travel or differences between Wisconsin and Swabia, I thought I'd write one of these over coffee this morning so readers know I haven't disappeared.

I've been working every day (though not even close to full-time) and studying for the C1 German test coming up on July 1st, and that means it's harder to indulge in an afternoon nap. Our house is in disarray, the garden is as unruly as a teenager on Red Bull, M has all but taken over cooking, and that best-seller I've been imagining in my mind for upwards of 35 years has still not been written. Of course, I waste an embarrassing amount of time checking Facebook and CNN, but at least M blocked Fox News from our Network (at my request) so I can no longer get outraged at the comments sections of articles. I've been totally neglecting my parents despite knowing my mom enjoys getting an email from me in the morning, and my list of "to do" is much longer than my list of "have done".

Basically, since I have the same 24 hours that everyone else has in a day, I have no excuse for the current state of affairs, and during my afternoon nap today I'm definitely going to conjure up a plan to get back on top of things.

Since I'm on my second cup of coffee, though, I'd better get going on Life Lately...


I am still teaching the Englisch-AG to students with mild learning disabilities twice a week, though this will be my last year. I'm just so much happier teaching adults, even though I really like the kids in that class. Half of them "graduate" in July because this school only goes to the ninth grade.

Four days a week, Tuesday to Friday, I teach basic German at the Hermann-Hesse-Kolleg. I've had four students, whom I briefly wrote about a few posts ago, but yesterday the woman from the Ukraine had her last day and Tuesday is the last day for the woman from Japan. The school director told me that I'll probably gain a few new students next week, so we'll see what happens.

Last week I mentioned Esslingen and how beautiful it is, and we decided to take a class trip there this coming Tuesday! I'll give them an informal Stadtführung (city tour), we'll have lunch, we'll walk up to the Burg, and we'll bask in the beauty of my favorite German city.


As I mentioned, I'll be taking a German language test (C1 level) on July 1st. I have found several practice tests and activities online, and my results have not been impressive. I never properly learned the passive voice or indirect discourse, so I've been studying those especially. What I really need to focus on is expanding my vocabulary and the subtle changes in meaning when a verb is coupled with a different preposition, for example: bestehen aus vs. bestehen in. I'm now working on a book I've had for a while but left on the shelf - Weg mit den typischen Fehlern! (Avoiding Typical Mistakes) - and wishing I had started it the day I learned I'd be taking this test.


I already wrote about parts of my trip last month to visit my daughter in Philadelphia. Not long after I returned, my Schwiegermutter and I accompanied four American exchange students from my hometown, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to Berlin for four days. They were a great group, very interested, spoke plenty of German, and we had a very good trip. We saw everything we could see in that short time, and sometime after my test I'll probably do a blog post about it.

das Brandenburger Tor made of chocolate at
Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatier
The sign says "no touching", but it doesn't say a thing about licking!


Besides grammar books and the local newspaper, I've been reading a book I bought in Berlin about the wall as well as Einwanderung und Asyl: die 101 wichtigsten Fragen (Immigration and Asylum: the 101 most important questions). Irgendwo in  Deutschland, the sequel to Nirgendwo in Afrika, has been at my bedside for months, and I am making very slow progess in that one.


As I type this, M has another hunk of meat in his sous vide jacuzzi, which has been in there since Thursday evening. Tonight we're having BBQ spare ribs with a sauce that is so insanely delcious that I've been putting it on everything but cereal. It absolutely lives up to its name:

We still have to decide what we're having with the ribs. If I want my daughter to be impressed, it has to be something other than potatoes.  Update: it was fries and cole slaw. See below.

And there they are, with homemade Krautsalat.
They were decadent.


The EM games, of course, or at least the ones involving the German team. I've fallen behind in what we affectionally call my "Scottish porn" (Outlander; it's not really porn, but a historical romance that gets a bit racey at times) because I lost interest in the second season when the setting was in France rather than in Scotland.

Our other regulars are "the Mentalist", "Big Bang Theory", any and all quiz shows, and "die Rosenheim Cops". Although the first two are American shows, we watch them in German because that's how they're aired on TV. M watches all kinds of other strange shows on the Man Channel (DMAX), which I try to tune out while studying German grammar.


My 25th college reunion is going on this weekend in Appleton, Wisconsin (USA). My former classmates are posting lots of photos on Facebook, and it's embarrassing how many people I don't remember well. It was and is a small college, after all. I suppose if I hadn't got married in my second year, I would have spent more time on campus and with my classmates. I think what's going on is that the classmates with whom I was really close are also not attending. By "missing" I don't mean I wish I were there, but rather I am not attending because I'm just too far away.


Since I'm in town for teaching nearly every day, I run into my former students and other Syrians I have met through the HHK and the Sprachcafé at least once a week. It is always a pleasure to see them, and they greet me warmly, even from afar as they wait for their bus and I'm dashing past to pick up more Bergkäse from Aldi. Usually we have time for at least a brief chat.

A German teacher friend of mine from Colorado is in the area, and we'll be meeting next weekend! It will be nice to get together for the first time since 2012, and M and I are looking forward to it.


Yesterday I met one of my former students for several hours so he could tell me about his story - his life in Syria and Lebanon before the war, his journey to Germany when he decided he had to leave, and his life here since arriving nine months ago. I will be talking to as many refugees as want to share their stories with me, and I am writing about them. I am not entirely sure what the end product will be, but at the very least they and I will have a written account of what they have gone through. Their stories need to be shared.

That's what I've been up to lately, for those who might have wondered. But now my coffee is finished, and I best get back to preparing for my test! We also have plans to get some yard work done today. The hedge is getting out of control!

Have a great weekend!

one of our Rhododendrons a few weeks ago
They're all finished blooming now and ready for beheading.


  1.'s too bad that Fox News can't be blocked everywhere. ;-)

    1. Indeed. Scarier than their reporting, though, are the people who comment. My eyes are still burning from some of the things I read. The hatred and ignorance were shocking.

  2. Good luck with the test!

    We have all the UK channels here so now I can watch American shows in the original language. SRF2 also has a feature where you can switch languages - we did that with Wreck It Ralph.

    1. Danke! SRF2 doesn't sound familiar to me, but I know some of our channels have language options (though only M knows how to check for that).