January 27, 2010

Five teeth and a Claw

The day began with our usually benign neighbourhood cat, Cub, having an aggressive moment and making me bleed. A nice 5cm (2") lightly bleeding scratch across my right forearm. Then there were the five little red toothmarks a little closer to the wrist. No big deal. I stopped petting her and washed up and added some disinfectant for good measure. Later I came back and stroked her with the other arm, which she did not wound. I think she knew that then there'd be no more arms available to make her purr.

The day entailed no shoveling, as there was no precipitation, but the driveway is covered in ice...which our kids find wonderful fun. I just have to be careful walking to the mailbox. It was -5C (23F) most of the overcast day. Good for zipping up one's (purple) ski jacket and wearing (purple) gloves. That's a segue to the fact that I noticed, on my way to German class, that I was wearing not only those two purple items, but also a purple sweater, and carrying a purple backpack. Of course I Facebooked this on my iPhone in its purply pink case. Someone then alliteratively asked me to "post a purple pic" - which request I fulfilled by gathering up rather a large number of other purple things I have around the house and getting a shot of those:

I REALLY like purple stuff

At German class, I received a real treat. Picture this in your mind's ear:
You're sitting in class on the ground floor of your husband's office building, with a 7-month-pregnant student from the Czech Republich, a male one from Hungary, yourself from USA, and the Swiss-German teacher. In comes a new student you've never met before. From his cheerful, inquisitive speech, you discern immediately that he has a delightful francophone accent. Notice I don't say "French," since he could be from various countries (including southwest Switzerland, France, Belgium, and theoretically Canada or Africa, depending). It turns out he's Belgian, and he has this great way of speaking mostly German with a few English words thrown in, in a French accent. The icing on the cake, though, which I could not stop smiling about, was the way in which, every 4th word or so, he inserted, in English, "like." You know, like, the filler word that a lot of, like, young people, like, use. Except it sounds all the more out of place in a grown man's speech while he's speaking German. With a French accent. I can't even attempt to reproduce one of his sentences. It was really fun.

Had a nice lunch with my son as usual for Wednesdays, then took my daughter shopping for some clothing necessities. The way these kids keep growing... Since I don't like shopping and want to spend as little time as possible doing it, I tend to ask for help from the Guy who knows where everything is - and He granted us the favor and success I pleaded for on the way out there. But I wanted to use these special certificates (UBS Keyclub points) we'd gotten from our Swiss credit card company as rewards for using their card. I had 60CHF worth of them, valid only at certain stores. We found some needed items at one such store (Manor), and I was so pleased that the goods added up to only 60 centimes (like pennies) less than 60 Francs. Perfect, right? Except the store would not take the certificates to pay for an amount less than they were worth, since they could not give us change. I said they could keep the change, but they said the computer would not accept that. I asked if they sold anything for 60 centimes. They said maybe a pencil, downstairs? So we trooped downstairs and looked for something really cheap. We spotted a pen on sale for 1CHF. But then, even better, we found some Tippex (white-out correction fluid), that Emily actually wanted for schoolwork. 2.80CHF, but more worth it. Back upstairs, and we finally made our "purchase."

I have more to tell you, but it's way past time for bed. See you tomorrow, I hope!

January 27, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 14, 2009

German Bathroom Confusion

If you ever visit a German-speaking country and you need to use a public bathroom, keep in mind:

If you see HERren on a door, it's not talking about "her", as in female.

If you seen D MEN on the other door, it's not talking about "The Men." An important letter has fallen out of the word - the A between the D and the M.

 "Herren" - Gentlemen.

"Damen" - Ladies.

Someone told us recently about his experience with finding out the hard way which was which!

September 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3)

December 02, 2008

Struggling with Dativ and Akkusativ and Der-Die-Das-Den-Dem

I attended German class this morning as usual for Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and was honest with the teacher: "It's a total guess for me as to which article to use!"

In German it's not just
"the" as in English.
The dog, the door, the bed, the tables. Easy, right?

And it's not as simple as French, with only
"le" (masculine: le chien) or
"la" (feminine: la porte) or
"les" (plural: les tables).

No, no, in German, it's
"der" (masculine in nominativ case: der Hund; or feminine in akkusativ case: der Tür), or
"die" (feminine: die Tür; or plural, die Tischen) or
"das" (neuter: das Bett), or
"den" (masculine in Akkusativ case, or plural in Dativ), or
"dem" (masculine or neuter in Dativ case)

And of course half the time what's masculine in French is feminine or neuter in German and vice versa:

e.g. the table: la table (fem in French), vs. der Tisch (masc in German)
or the bed: le lit (masc in French), vs. das Bett (neuter in German)
or the cat: le chat (masc in French), vs. die Katze (fem in German)

Help, help! I can usually figure these things out if I have time and solitude:
1. I look the word up in the dictionary (whether paper or online) to find out if it's masculine, feminine or neuter
2. I think about whether the thing is the subject (nominativ) or direct object (akkusativ) or perhaps an object of a preposition (akkusativ or dativ)
3. I think about whether the action is taking place in one spot (dativ case), or whether it involves moving from one place to another (akkusativ)
4. I look up in the tables (whether on paper or in my head) which article is thus the correct one to use

It's quite the multi-step process just to pick one little tiny inconsequential word before a noun. But on the spot, in class? I blush and sputter, or just pick randomly, and the teacher corrects me - but what use is that?

Ah well, I know I am learning a little each class, and with each piece of homework. David shared a great little trick with me today which helped oodles. "Wo?" (where) and "Dativ" are the shorter words and go together, and "Wohin?" (where to) and "Akkusativ" are the longer words and go together. Thanks, my love! Helps no end.

December 2, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 13, 2008

Incredible Day: Car, Flowers, Cake, Swim, German Conversation

I am all better from my sore throat illness (since Sunday). Thanks for the prayers.

Today David bought a car for himself (we already had one for me), brought me home flowers (a gift from the car place, but who cares, I'll take roses!) AND chocolate chip bundt cake with chocolate glaze and marzipan decoration (a welcome gift from his company, but delicious is delicious!) and he shared them all with his family.

This afternoon the kids and I went with our new pastor's wife and her kids to an amazing swim place in Zug, with multiple indoor and outdoor pools, an awesome, long outdoor water slide that was not scary but took about 20 seconds to get down, whizzing past fresh lavender plants under the blue sky...and 1 meter, 3 meter and 5 meter diving platforms outside (I only managed the 1m! My friend's kids both did the 5m! They are 11 and 7 years old)...and a cool "river current" area in one of the inside pools that is so strong you cannot make any progress if you are trying to swim against it; better just to let it sweep you away around the corner and back into the main pool area. Fun! I also had a really great time talking with my friend Tanya and getting to know her a bit better.

Tonight at dinner our family held a half-hour conversation ALL IN GERMAN (with a bit of dictionary-searching, both electronic and paper, and about a million mistakes I'm sure), spontaneously, with great cheer and many laughs, and totally out of the blue. I don't even know how it started. All I know is that the kids have been doing the Rosetta Stone German program daily for months, I have finished it (Levels 1, 2, and 3, all there is), Emily finished today, David had a conversation with the car place in German today, and David and I have had our first two German lessons live at his workplace (offered for free by the company for employees AND spouses, woo woo!) yesterday and today. It all came out tonight. It was incredible and wonderful. David and I just looked at each other afterwards with eyebrows practically up to the ceiling. Such fun.

Thank You, Lord, for an incredible day.

August 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 04, 2008

A Quick Guide to Swiss German

A Quick Guide to the Swiss German Language is a lovely page to look at if you are interested in some differences between German and Swiss German or would like some tongue twisters with which to pass your evening.

Today, other than cleaning toilets, mopping floors, changing sheets, doing laundry, meal-planning, grocery shopping, training the children to be industrious, helpful and hard-working (by giving them the instant reinforcement of being paid for their cheerful labor), and visiting our town library for the first time, I had a German interaction with the cashier (asking her for three sizes of the special trash bags they keep behind the registers, measured in litre capacity), and listened about four times to an answering machine message in Swiss-German without being able to decipher what the hours of the orthodontist are. I'll have to try them again tomorrow morning and hope they're open then (and speak English or French).

Being slightly under the weather this evening, that will have to suffice for my contribution to the blogosphere for today. The deepest of grace and peace to you. It flows freely to those who ask the Source Guy.

August 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 31, 2008

German Vocabulary Lesson - Migros Loyalty Card Application

In filling out the Migros loyalty card application yesterday, I had to look up a lot of new vocabulary, some of which I hope will stick with me...maybe better so if I type it here and share it with you:

Antrag - application
Anmeldung - sign-up, registration
Mitgliedschaft - membership
Verzichten - decline, abdicate
Deswegen - that's why
Erhalten - receive
Benötigen - need/want
Noch - still
Beachten - pay attention to / note / heed
Gewünschte - desired
Bevorzugte - preferred

And to finish off:

Einfach - simply
Ablösen - to detach
Anfeuchten - to dampen / to wet
Zukleben - to seal

From the village website, I also learned, with the help of my online German-English dictionary:
Stützmauer - retaining wall (someone wants a permit for one)
Anlässe - events
Abteilung - department

We'll see if I remember any of them tomorrow. I have good hopes for noch, beachten and anmeldung, at least.

July 31, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 24, 2008

License, German-English Translation, Fruit, Junkmail, Power, Sun

I think the Zurich DMV used Google Translate for their email to me. Here are some excerpts:

...The visual test you can finish with every optician(glasses business)

...They must wait, to you the foreign identity card have

...The American leader's drive card we need for the paraphrase. You get back this after the occurred paraphrase (approx. one week). Nevertheless, in the interim you may go in Switzerland.

Mit freundlichen Grüssen
Strassenverkehrsamt Zürich

* * *

Yesterday I hung our wedding vows by our bed - David's to me on his side, and mine to him on my side. This means we are truly home once again. I also hung the iris painting that my mom gave to us as a housewarming present three houses/countries ago. It is in the dining room, beautiful! And David's mom's special and lovely river painting is hanging in Jason's room - she painted it for him.

And I organized all the extra toiletries...what a mess that was. Our bathroom looks a whole lot better.

Also the kids and I got to have lunch with David at work for the first time, and see where he sits. FUN office... (not mentioning on the blog the name of where he works, but it's somewhere really fun :-) ).

* * *

We've been delighting in God's fresh summer peaches (so ripe the skin just peels right off with my fingers), nectarines, and blueberries...yum! This morning I baked my first banana bread in this house. The kids liked it a lot.

* * *

In reading Psalm 89:13, I came across an unusual verb: "endue:"

Provide with a talent, ability, power, etc. (godonthe.net)

To take on, to take the form of... To clothe; to endow or invest (with a thing). (wiktionary)

Endow, indue, gift, empower, invest, give qualities or abilities to (wordnet.princeton.edu

So anyway, God is endued with power. All of it.

Earlier this week I was clueless as to where I might find a shower curtain rod around here (that was not 45 minutes away of yucky city/highway driving at Ikea). I sort of kind of asked God for help (didn't feel it was important enough? Have other matters I'd rather He work on? Didn't think He knew? Didn't think He cared that much? Ha!), having looked in the phone books and found that no help with my limited German (what would you look under?), and having tried Google maps business locating...again I don't think I put in the right words.

I left the house for some other errands, hoping I would just see someplace likely on the way...but stopped at the mailbox to check if there was anything in there. For the first time since we moved in two weeks ago, there was some "junkmail" in the bottom half of the mailbox. Some flyers from stores. Hmmm, thought I. Leafing through, three of the stores looked like likely candidates for my search! So I went back inside and looked them up online. The closest one was 20 minutes away through absolutely stunning countryside. Hills, forests, lush verdant fields, Christmas tree farm, cornfields, distant horizons...Anyway, I got to a Co-op "Bau + Hobby" which turned out to be Home Depot meets Office Depot meets Michael's Arts & Crafts meets Garden Center meets Kitchen Store meets Outdoor Store. And upstairs, a full-blown Co-op grocery store and attached mall. I had a great time exploring, got the shower curtains and rods and several other things we needed, and had to leave to come home before I was done with the adventure. I will have to go back and take David too sometime. Looked like a nice town to visit for other reasons too (Affoltern am Albis).

So anyway, it wasn't junkmail, it was God-mail, I guess. Thanks!

* * *

The sun has returned as of yesterday, and we're supposed to have real summer temperatures here all next week. Nice. We may take our first trip into the mountains this Saturday for a hike. I hope we see lots of wildflowers, especially centaurea montana...

July 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 22, 2008

July 22nd High of 60

Jeans and sweatshirt today. High of 60 F (16 C, low of 53/12).

The postman really does ring twice here, by the way. (That was a non sequitur, and sounds like a nasty book from the summary I just found.)

Made a Granny Smith apple tart last night with Emily (she did at least half the work). Glad to note that in Switzerland the prepared pie crust dough is once again round. In England it was rectangular, which meant a lot of trimming and wasted dough if I was making a round pie (like all my pies). In France it was round I believe, like in the U.S.

Remember yesterday I wrote about ordering salmon at the fish counter in the grocery store? You may be amused to know that the word for salmon here is "lachs" (it sounds similar to "lax") - as in bagels and lox (only it's not smoked unless you have the word Räucher before it (as in "Rauchen verboten" - no smoking!).

Here you have
a) the hibiscus tree as viewed from our bedroom window
b) an example of beflowered balconies very common in Switzerland (usually a lot of geraniums)
c) a forested streamside path we can take to walk from our house to our village, e.g. to the bakery
d) a sleeping swan by the lake in downtown Zürich (we explored a little after trying a downtown church on Sunday)

July 22, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack