11 Questions

In answer to Nuranar's tag:

The rules:
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves in their journal.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
3. You have to choose 11 people to tag.
4. No tag backs.

1. What was one of the best Christmas presents you have ever received? The set of Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books.
2. What was your first car, and how long did it last for you? A DAF, and due to an accident, I only had it a few months.
3. What's your favorite comedian or comedy team from early film/TV (through 1960)? Laurel and Hardy
4. What non-winter-time holidays do you decorate for? Easter
5. Preferred habitat: Urban, suburban, or rural, and why? Suburban - quieter than in the city, but near enough to have the cultural and shopping advantages.
6. Austen or Brontë? Austen!
7. Would you prefer to have a wonderful singing voice, or to play your musical instrument of choice as a master? I’m a pianist, so the latter.
8. What was your least-favorite book read this year? As I can now read purely for pleasure, that doesn’t apply!
9. Would you rather garden or cook? Cook. (I’m not crazy about cooking, but even less so about gardening!)
10. Sew or knit/crochet? Sew, though I have done a bit of knitting again recently.
11. Fires: Wood fireplace, wood stove, gas logs, chiminea, fire pit, or other? We have a fireplace now, but I prefer the tiled stove we used to have. It provides much more warmth!

I don't know if anyone actually still reads my blog here, as I don't keep it up much, so I'll wait to see if there are comments in order to know whom to tag! My 11 questions:

(to be cont'd)

Out of the Comfort Zone

On my recent vacation trip, I travelled to a place I hadn't been before (not a big problem, that happens often enough), to a country where I couldn't understand the language (also no big problem - I was able to get by with English pretty well), to visit people I hadn't met in person (not the first time for that either). I knew I might encounter situations that took me out of my comfort zone and decided to open up and not take the easy way out. Here are a few of the things I did:

Slept in a cottage with approximately a dozen people who were basically strangers to me.

Cooked over an open fire for the first time in my life (unless hot dogs and marshmallows can be considered "cooking"!).

Drank some licorice spirits from a bottle that was passed around.

Played live werewolf.

Sweated in a sauna with relative strangers (though not, fortunately, textile-free!).

More items may occur to me later...
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Dear me, what does one do when it seems there's no time to think of an interesting blog post?

Blogging the cat is not an alternative, as I no longer have one. (Hmmm, would it be worth the effort of going to the animal shelter to get one, just so I'd have something to write about, and cute pictures to show? Nah...)

Blogging my music list, as some people do on Mondays, is also not possible - I don't listen to music much, so my playlist would be both short and boring. Most of the time, I'd rather play piano myself. I do have some music from the LotR soundtrack to practice, as I'll be playing it with a couple of other German Tolkien Society members at the Tolkien Day in Hannover next month.

Blogging my menu? I baked a cake to use up some of our own apples yesterday, but as I bake often enough, that's not unique enough to merit a post. Other than that I've been cooking routine meals, nothing gourmet to brag about.

Blogging my sewing projects - yes, that I could do. In that case, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll have to upload photos to show what I've done. That really doesn't count as writing though, does it?

I guess I just won't blog today, since I can't think of anything to write.
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Home again...

I love to travel. Those who know me are aware of that - I enjoy meeting far-away friends, discovering new places, and attending interesting events. I will certainly write about the trip from which I just returned in the coming days, yet for now, I am reflecting on the joy of coming home from a journey.

Everything appears fresh and new after not seeing our beautiful home and yard for over two weeks. The roses are now in full bloom, looking and smelling wonderful. Walking into the house, I realized how much I like the art and furniture we have, something that often gets taken for granted in daily life.

The everyday joys of reading the newspaper, watching familiar TV stations and programs, listening to the radio, being able to access all of my internet links at any time - wonderful! I appreciate all of that so much the more after having gone without for a couple of weeks. And especially now, during the World Cup, I am happy to be able to watch the football (soccer) games regularly and to peruse the sport pages of the papers again. I missed the shared experience of collective football fever that rules Germany every four years (well, every two, if you include the European championship).

Oh, and it's nice to be able to wear different clothes again! I packed very economically, with a minimum of basic denim and T-shirts, so having other things to put on is a pleasant change.

As I unpack, I look forward to playing the music I brought with me on my piano; to washing, ironing and sewing with the fabrics I purchased; and I've already hung up the beautiful painting made by my cousin, though it will get a new frame to enhance it in the future. So it is that each trip enriches my everyday life and brings change to our home. I couldn't imagine life without both - travel and a home to come back to.
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    content content

Eurovision Song Contest

I watch the biggest music show in the world every year if at all possible - sometimes to bash the level of songs being presented by the contestants, sometimes to actually enjoy them. The latter was the case this year - I thought there were several songs that would have been good winners. My personal favourite was the "me and my guitar" song from Belgium: simple presentation, nice voice, good lyrics and melody. I also liked the entry from Israel, which was almost a classic chanson, just like back in the good old days. More thoughts on the entries:

There were several very good voices - the tenor from Norway, singers from Georgia and Iceland, just to mention a few. The award for highest note of the evening goes to the female singer from Romania - fantastic voice!

Best costumes: Belarus' butterflies - the song was negligable, but the surprise of those wings unfolding was lovely!

Fun song of the evening: Greece's lively entry, which actually had me laughing out loud.

Destined to be the summer football (soccer) hit: France's song. No thoughtful lyrics, just lots of fun.

Best piano: the double (plexi)glass grand on which the Romanian singers also played. I've never seen anything like it!

Most out-of-place song: Great Britain's entry sounded like it came a couple of decades too late.

All in all it was a spectacular show, with fabulous light and stage effects as always. This is the show that annually presents the state-of-the-art in that respect. The motto was "Share the Moment", very appropriate for the event. One novel element was excellent - a Europe-wide dance number that had people all over the continent (plus) dancing to the music during the break. Well-planned choreography, great fun, a wonderful way to share the experience actively. But no, I did not get up and dance - not so late in the evening...

Of course, the most exciting part of the everning was watching Germany's points go higher and higher. Lena and her cohorts are not the only ones in shock over actually winning!

Footnote: I saw the VIP reception Lena got upon arrival in her home city in Germany today - it was remarkably similar to those given to football (soccer) teams who have won championships. Definitely spectacular!
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    amused amused

Tolkien Reading Day

Tomorrow, Thursday, March 25, is Tolkien Reading Day - also New Year's Day in Middle-earth. Since I'm not able to attend any of the public or private readings that members of the DTG are sponsoring in Germany, I'm going to read to a family member who has seen the LotR movies but not read the books. I'm also putting Tolkien quotes in my Facebook status and will post some more of my favourites here. What fun!

Here's an early forerunner of the internet (Skype?) in Middle-earth:

"'I wish we could have a Stone that we could see all our friends in,' said Pippin, 'and that we could speak to them from far away!'"

Gandalf as Google:

"'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?'
'The names of all the stars, and of all living things, and the whole history of Middle-earth and Over-heaven and of the Sundering Seas,' laughed Pippin. 'Of course! What less? But I am not in a hurry tonight.'"
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    amused amused

(no subject)

I came home from my vacation to find a very early birthday present waiting for me - a brand new netbook! I've been wanting a PC for travels, with the possibility of presenting visuals for lectures. This is perfect, Power Point is already installed, and it's a handy size - like a book, only heavier.

The one thing it's lacking is a protective case. That's not actually a disadvantage, but an opportunity - now I'm having fun choosing fabrics for my own personalized, custom-sized carrying tote! I already have ideas to go with the personality that the netbook has acquired in my mind: it's a butterfly. When it opens, it's like wings opening, and taking it on trips is flying (often enough literally!). I love butterflies and have a collection of butterfly fabrics; I also have batting to upholster the fabric for protection. Now to measure, design, choose, and sew - a fun project!
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(no subject)

I have a good deal of sympathy for employees who campaign for their rights, especially since capitalistic excesses of employers often lead to inhumane working conditions, low wages, and unemployment. It is hard to think positively about labour conflicts, though, when they directly affect me in a negative way. In this case, the Lufthansa pilot strike is causing a good deal of uncertainty concerning my vacation flight this week. The main flight is on the list and should be taking place (though there are last-minute cancellations of flights that were listed today, the first strike day). However, it starts from Munich (way in the south of Germany), and the connecting flight there from Hamburg (northern Germany) is not on the list. I can take the train, and that will probably be my choice of solution, but it takes several hours longer, and I'd need to travel earlier/overnight to get there on time. That means leaving home the day before the flight to get to Munich, trying to book a hotel room there, and hoping that Lufthansa will take over those costs!

The newest rumour has it that the main flight is cancelled as well. Will Lufthansa rebook us with other airlines or flights? Friends who are travelling at the same time have suggested flying a day later since the strike should be over by then. But who knows what may happen by then...

I hate the uncertainty more than the hassle.
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    irritated irritated

Tagged by Joel

A. List seven habits/quirks/facts about yourself.
B. Tag seven people to do the same.
C. Do not tag the person who tagged you or say that you tag "whoever wants to do it."

Here are my seven habits/quirks/facts:
1. I don't ever sew clothes for myself - except for Middle-earth costumes, of which I sew new ones annually.
2. I love chocolate, especially dark truffles laced with alcohol (cuts the sweetness).
3. I drink lots of green tea all day long.
4. My favourite patchwork pattern is log cabin - fun to sew!
5. Sometimes I ponder the possibility of having a cat as a pet again - but not seriously right now.
6. I like snow and think it looks pretty, but I wish it would stay off streets and sidewalks.
7. I'd rather travel distances by train than by car.

So, since I don't know how to tag with a link, here is my tag list:

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