End of July

What I did in July:

- got a mini job, worked hard for a week and lost the job again (boss didn't like me...)
- wrote more job applications
- got a phone call from a firm in Japan
- got to second application round with that firm
- may need to travel to Japan for a real interview if I pass second phone interview next week
- had a self presentation workshop on sunday (see picture of bento I made for that day)
- traveled two hours by train to meet up with a friend with whom I've studied 5 years and with whom I spent a wonderful time in Tokyo and with whom I shared a tiny apartment for 2 years. (We hadn't seen each other for 1 1/2 years. See first two pictures above - road pictures out of the train. Yes, it was a rainy day.)
- July was a cold and rainy month in Germany. I worked, read and wrote applications.

What I'll do next:
- write more job applications.
- have job interview via phone connection to Japan! (Got any tips?)
- go home and take care of the dog and the cat as my mom will have surgery next week.
- take care of mom after surgery (I'm a little bit worried. It is nothing major but the people at the hospital want her to stay for at least 10 days!)

Let's see what August has in store!


In need of the seashore

Can you be in the need for water, salty air and a stiff breeze? Well, of course you can. My family is used to hills and forests, but when vacation is near we tend to pack our things and drive 7 hours up north to the German Baltic Sea shore. While Rügen (Germany's largest island) was once our favorite spot, it has become rather pricey and we end up on Usedom (second largest island and shared with Poland). It has the longest beach Germany has to offer! And the most sunny hours as well. (Even though there is a debate going on about that between different tourist areas in Germany.)

We don't lie on the beach (maybe a little) - we walk up and down several km most vacation days. It's so much fun having the waves lick at your feet and collecting shells. My dog just loves the sand! And there are some beaches there, where dogs are allowed (which is still very uncommon in Germany!).

Well, these pics are from september 2009. That was the last time I was there with my parents. I haven't had time or money to go back there the past two years, but maybe I'll join my extended family there again in September. This time my sister, her husband and my nephew will be there, too.


Grandpa Walter: Pictures

One of the scarce color pictures, dated 1982. My parents wedding. I wasn't on my way yet, but Grandpa Walter already looks the way I remember him. White puffy wisps of hair on either side of his head and his characteristic smile. The car was especially rented for the big day: a lada. Not many people could afford to buy one in those days and I really don't know where this car came from...

My real (young) father is hugging his mom, while Grandpa Walter is watching. On sunday one wore the best dresses one owned in those times. Time: Maybe late 1970s?

My grandparents were the cutest couple ever! They were happily married for over 50 years. Time: Early 1980s.

Granpa Walter worked hard all his life. This is one of the oldest pictures I own of him: The date on the back reads 1967. A huge storm had passed our little town and the tree had fallen. So it became fire wood.

My grandfather and an aunt (?) working in the garden. As I mentioned before as goods and food were most of the time scarce one had to grow its own vegetables and fruit. Date unknown.

Cellar building for his dream house in 1980. As he worked with heavy machinery, too, Grandpa Walter lost some fingers during his lifetime. I remember those hands very well. I was never grossed out, because those hands told stories.

House is almost finished in late 1980. A friend of my father (?) is helping building the roof. Grandpa Walter is obviously happy about the outcome of the labour.

Retiring from work in the late 1970s.

While hard work was a constant part of life in GDR, most people managed to get something good out of it as well. And Thuringians do a lot of BBQing. The Thuringian grilled sausage is very famous to this day!

You get the picture.

Grandpa Walter also loved to make music - up to the day he died. Not just harmonica...

...but also accordion. (For which he had to get inventive later in the 1980s and model some fingers out of fimo clay to be able to play.)

Yes, Grandpa Walter, you are missed and I will never forget you. Thank you for teaching me lots of stuff and being there for me. Lots of Love.


Grandpa Walter

Grandpa Walter in front of his garden hut. His garden was always well stocked with vegetables, fruit and flowers. 

During my 28 years on this planet I've already lost quite a bunch of people I've loved. Not just the "we didn't stay in touch" or the "she treated me kind of bad and that's why I ended our friendship" kind of losing either. (Sadly, that has happened, too.)

No - death seems to be an old acquaintance by now, even though you never get used to this fellow. When I was not yet four my real father died of diabetes, wrong lifestyle and the bitterness of living on the wrong side of the Wall. His heart just stopped one winter day in January of 1987. The year that followed must have been the hardest my mother ever had to endure. I don't remember much, but I tried to cheer her up and drew many black princesses. (So much to the theory that little children don't get the meaning of death.) In 1988 I got a new dad (and was very proud of that, too. I bragged in kindergarden.) and he is my father to this day. Yes, we've been lucky that way. Still, there is an amount of sadness left in me as I will never know my real father. Can't even remember him. But more on him later.

It isn't a big surprise that my grandparents, who had lost their only son at such a young age, would set their hearts on my well being. My mother worked very hard as a taylor as long as the GDR persisted and she dropped me off at my grandparents house every other day or so. My grandparents were already over 70 at that time and they died both at age 86 in 1997 and 1998. I loved them. I still do. And I miss them very much. Grandma Ida was such a good hearted person - her warmth and gentleness have become legend in my family. She also cooked splendid meals.
My grandpa Walter was very inventive. He could make almost anything out of scraps of metal or just out  of plain trash. Remember: There was never much available in the GDR.

I was a total grandpa-kid. And he taught me a lot about nature and being smart. Even though he was hard working and very popular in his community, he never owned much and was never sad about this. He was from Dresden, where he was born in 1911. He lived the life the famous German author Erich Kästner describes in his childhood memoirs: living a life on almost nothing - in the back of huge apartment houses. His father fell in the first World War - I don't know where and when. (I did some research and his family name isn't that common. I found four people, whose names could match. The fell on the western front in France.) My family doesn't know much about his mother either. She died, when my grandpa was still young. My mom told me the story that a German shepherd dog ran down the stairs in their big apartment house and took her down with him. She fell so badly that she died.

My grandpa came to Thuringia in our little town, where a famous orphanage existed. (To this day.) But you know how it was in those days (the 1920s): the children had to help making hay and do all sorts of farm work. A local family (existing to this day, too) became his patrons, but they obviously made him work even more. He never really forgave them, I think.
I think he learned to become a mechanic, but I'm not sure. Eventually there was war again and he was off to the Eastern front. A girl from the then- eastern German parts (nowadays Poland) was made to write him as an encouragement (quite common during war times). They liked each other and met, when he was on front vacation. It was love at (nearly) first sight and they wed soon after. (He had to tramp from Greece to the wedding and missed it by a week's time.)
Other than that - there never was much talk about the war. And I was far too young to pay attention to it anyway (which makes me sad today).

My grandma had to flee as part of one of the great treks from Poland - very pregnant. They met again in my little hometown and lived in a little apartment in the house, that later became my home, too. (But now we own the house. My grandparents had to pay rent.) Money was always scarce. In those days one could go to a grocers (who knew you anyway, because the town was so tiny) and he would be willing to give you credit if you hadn't any money left. Obviously, if you got your paycheck the next month, you had to pay off those credits first. And again there would be too much month left, while the money was already gone. Soon, they had two daughters (my aunts) to care for, and life wasn't getting easier.

I don't know much more about the times between those early 1950s and the late 1980s when I got to know them, but I inherited quite a bunch of pictures, of which I'll show you some.
Please be aware once again, that these pictures belong to me (well, nowadays anyway)! I am well aware that they actually might have some historical value as some of them depict everyday life in a closed off social communist society. And sorry, my scanner is kind of old.


First DIY-Tutorial: Totally easy Origami Coasters!

Well, hello there! I've finally managed to put my very first tutorial together. As lover of all things Japan-related, I've always enjoyed Origami (Japanese for paper folding) very much. After getting really good at it during middle school I somehow stopped because folding paper cranes, paper horses, paper flowers and stuff didn't seem to lead anywhere. You couldn't really use those for anything useful! (What's up with this "It has no use so ditch it" thinking of mine?)
But during the time I lived in Japan I realized that Japanese people actually do use Origami for all kind of things. Like patching up their paper walls or making muffin forms. There are actually lot of books for "Everyday living Origami"on sale in Japanese bookstores.

So I like to use useful Origami to brighten up my living space. And today we'll make totally easy coasters - really everyone will be able to fold these! Just take two square pieces of paper. If you don't have Origami paper, that's just as fine - just select whatever design holds your fancy.

Step 1: Fold the paper diagonally. Twice.
Step 2: Fold two opposite pikes to the middle.

Step 3: Fold the piece at the middle line. The pikes are inside.
Step 4: The longer and closed side of the piece is at the bottom. Fold the right pike upwards.

Step 5: Turn the piece! (Important!) Fold the other pike upwards. Repeat whole process with the other piece of paper.
Step 6: Combine both pieces. Mark that the flaps have to be inserted into the pockets of the other pieces.

Steps 7 and 8: I just took those pics to make the process of flaps into pockets better understandable.

Make lots of them in different colors and enjoy! Totally easy - or not?

Disclaimer: I used 100 Yen store paper (It is the cheapest kind of Origami paper out there.).


Instagram Magic: Little Helpers

  by Chisa2010
, a photo by Chisa2010 on Flickr.
I can use all the help I can get. I started a job this week (just part time) and have to say:

The real world is somehow harder than I thought it would be. My boss is younger than me and she is a fierce lady, people!

The first day of work was already kind of frustrating because she kept insisting that I should work faster, even though the technic didn't like me and wouldn't accept my fast tipped codes.
Well, sure, the service industry is a fast working environment but I don't understand why I am supposed to function perfectly during my first week?!

I'm not going to say any more. I like working with clients, though. And I am perfectly nice and respectful to them! And sorting products is also kind of fun.

But I'll have to work on my boss-relationship I guess.


Last week...

Picture of Nighttime in Heidelberg - just for good measure 
... I was rejected ... again. I really wanted that job. Too bad.
... I got two wisdom teeth pulled out. Thank God that we have anesthesia these days. But still, it hurt like hell for the rest of the week and I am totally cured of thinking about getting the other two removed any time soon.
... I got those two teeth pulled out exactly one day before my 28th Birthday. Yeah---Happy Birthday to me!
... I could barely eat my birthday cake. What a shame.
... On Friday, there was an interesting job offer from Japan. I'm totally going to get it this time!!!
... Today I did a picnic for my Bday with some friends, even though only a fraction of my invited guest showed up. But we had fun nonetheless.
... Tomorrow (Sunday!) I'll have another job application training seminar. I'm so going pro in theoretical knowledge about getting a job. Theoretically.
... Starting on monday I'll start my new part time job. Nothing fancy, but it'll bring a little bit of money in my empty pockets and the people there seem fun enough to work with. Wish me luck!

P.S. I'm currently putting my very first DIY Tutorial together. Stay tuned!