Dear Santa, define naughty

In German, the word here you might not know is ‘ungezogen’

We royally screwed up both our German & our American Christmases. It turned out alright in the end, but my plan was to use this as a dress rehearsal for the real show.

Our kid is only a year old, so although she understands ripping gifts from their wrapping which she got a lot of practise doing the last few days, the whole Christkind (Christ child) &/or Santa Claus bringing presents is still a foreign concept.

She’s small. She’ll figure it out, I’m sure.

So, was she naughty? Not exactly. She has developed a taste for refined sugar that she didn’t have before.

The other day, Miriam & I resolved to give her less sugar than she’s been mainlining during Xmas. Meanwhile, what was she doing?

Our daughter was in her crib silently planning how to obtain more sugar.

Define ‘naughty’.

God bless our dentist. She’ll have extra work now that we’re all three addicted to the stuff.

Oh well. Life goes on.

Happy second day of Christmas!

Oversharing about overspending & belt tightening & why Andrea’s question has me writing this to begin with

I’ve been accused of oversharing, but then I always remember my friend who shared a photo of her naughty bits on twitter to make a point. Why do I mention that? Well, I suppose I do say things online that others wouldn’t.

And when I do so, it sometimes makes the people I love cringe. That moment I’m sure they read what I’ve posted and they think to themselves: Why does he have to talk about that? Is nothing sacred? Don’t we have a private sphere anymore?

I heard a podcast earlier this year in which there were parents discussing how much they shared of their children’s lives online. What kind of photos were acceptable and essentially where each parent’s parameters lay, which made me glad I didn’t have to concern myself with such things.

I’ve got enough trouble worrying about my own online presence without having to try figuring out someone else’s. Teaching a young person how to navigate the web? Gives me night sweats just thinking about it. Uggh…

So, here goes.

Andrea (aGirlfromMontrose), who’s a friend from high school you’re going to hear me talking about more, because I love her blog, asked me a question.

I promised her an answer in blog form, so here goes.

Oh, another thing before I forget: I’ve resolved to use this site more as a tool for a few things.

Recently, WordPress asked me if I wanted to keep up with the blogging lark. Well, actually they were more crafty, which I respect. They said: Your site’s being renewed. You needn’t do anything. We’ve got it taken care of.

But being the overthinking sod that I am, I considered just pulling the plug on the whole damned thing. Starting from scratch with something more conventional.

Lahikmajoe is a terrible name for a brand. It regularly baffles people when they first see it. How’s it even pronounced? Where does it come from? Why should I read something or follow links to such a site?

So there’s that…

Let me go back to the story with Andrea, though. It’s a narrative that’s easily followed.

She saw me jet off to Kraków and take the train to Venice a few weeks later. Then I was in Spain on the Camino showing my mother my favourite spots in northern Spain, as well as exploring Madrid for the first time.

There was Easter in a big Ferienhaus (a group of us rented a whole house) up in the Austrian Alps and photos of Asians taking photos of each other (& of my dogs #EllaandLouis) while we spent a day in Hallstadt.

There was essentially some sort of trip every few weeks, and when we finally ended up on holiday in Italy this summer, Andrea had had enough.

In comments on some post, she demanded: What do you do exactly? How can you afford all this travel? I want that life. What do I need to do to get to motor round like that and see all that stuff?

Well, here comes the oversharing:

I can’t. There’s been too much outflow and not enough income. I’ve overspent on travel this year, and now it’s time to do some belt tightening and get back to fiscal basics.

The funny thing is, though, I’ve got it under control, because while my freelance work often dries up in summer, it turns out autumn is regularly quite busy.

There’ll be a period around Christmas until Epiphany, when I can’t work anyway, so I’m already planning a trip stateside. I’ve not been to Vermont since college, when a couple of Deadheads and I drove from Albany to Burlington on a whim, but there might be Yuletide in the Northeast Kingdom (a place whose name I’ve always thought was rather magical). Then if things go as planned New Year’s in New Orleans and time with my people in coastal Texas.

That bastard Hurricane Harvey, who devastated the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana last week, has made me uncharacteristically homesick, which is a feeling I nearly never experience, so pardon me if this blog becomes a bit Texas-flavoured in the coming weeks.

I promised Andrea a blogpost explaining what I do, so here it is. I overshare. I tell people online what online marketers insist you shouldn’t. I tell my readers too much and it’s both cathartic and a little daft.

Because I’ve thrown in for another year on WordPress, I’m going to get my money’s worth. I’m going to use my blog the way I used to do my teablog:

People who drink tea used to read my blog about the brown liqueur, the leafy goodness. The drink that fuels my adventures since I gave up on John Barleycorn years ago. Yet the astounding thing was how many people who didn’t even drink tea told me they loved my blog.

Just the writing. Whether they even drank it or not. Some regular readers even insisted they couldn’t stand the stuff (I never trusted those people — just seems suspect to me). For now on, there’s going to be regular content hereabouts, but this time with an editorial calendar and a better eye on my audience. Most importantly there’s also going to be a goal.

I want this place to be where people come for something whimsical. A bit of the ridiculous in an otherwise serious and grown up life. Again, that’s why even non tea drinkers read my earlier site. It was certainly about tea, but barely.

Some days it was about what was pissing me off, but most of the time it was my inspiration. Whatever caught my fancy. Whatever bliss I was tapping into, as Joseph Campbell was talking about.

The thing that made me want to leap out of bed in the morning? The thing that made me want to do it again and again? I want more of that in my life. I’m assuming you do too.

On a side note, I quit watching or reading the news while in Spain. American news, in particular, just had me anxious. I realised that the more attention I gave Trump and the whole “he said she said” nonsense of the two party system over there, the more irritable I was getting.

Walking along the trail on the Camino de Santiago in the Rioja region of Spain, I reminded myself:

None of that really matters in my day to day life. I take voting seriously, and I’ll do my civic duty when it’s time to do so.

But watch another debate like we seemed to all be doing in 2016? Life’s too short for that shit. There’s too much living going on around, as I hear Lyle Lovett’s voice singing in my memory.

Be good to one another, will you? I’m trying.

This post is brought to you thanks to bifurcated sleep…

Technicolor sunrise at the Leuchtenbergring station

Ok, the long and short of it is that I don’t sleep well in the summertime. Not sure if I ever did, but it seems to have gotten progressively worse with age. Old man problems, right? I suppose so. 

So, I’ve gotten into the weirdest sleep schedule that can only be described as bifurcated sleep. I fall asleep when the sun goes down, sleep several hours and at some point in the night, I jolt awake. 

Trying to fall back asleep is frustrating to the point of me just accepting I’m up in the night. At some point, I eventually drift back off. 

It’s a great schedule if you’re a layabout or have no fixed appointments, but I’m no man of leisure. I’ve got to go to work. Need to make the donuts, as it were. 

Bleary-eyed, I make it to the S-Bahn station at Leuchtenbergring, take a shot that I promptly filter it to the point that it looks somewhat like the Hotel California album cover. The photo describes my mood in this sleep-deprived state. 

You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. 

do what you love

Playing the guitar surrounding by sixties design wallpaper in Lisel's front room
Playing the guitar surrounding by sixties design wallpaper in Lisel’s front room

This is one of my photos from London, and I’ve been considering different ways to continue blogging about those two trips.

See, for those who haven’t been following at home, I went to London to see Robert Godden and hang out with my friends Nigel (this blog’s London correspondent) and @elaine4queeen this autumn, and then a short time later my mother was going to be in the UK, so I went back again.

I could’ve simply flown to Manchester, where she was going to arrive, but the flights were prohibitively expensive, so I flew back to London, had some meetings with people in the tea business, and spent some more time with the above-mentioned friends. Additionally, I met @vsopfables at Heathrow on my way out of town, and she and I agreed we’d have to spend a bit longer together next time. It was simply too short a visit.

So, why have I included this photo? What’s my morsel of wisdom I’d like to pass onto you today?

It’s quite simple actually.

Most people look at this, or other blogs, or twitter or social media in general as one big swirl of narcissism. Although I believe there’s a great deal of that going on in the places I’ve listed, I’d be willing to argue that it’s not all we’re about.

My message in this blogpost is really one of the bigger truths that I’ve happened upon. One of those things I’ve figured out during my brief time on this earth. It’s so simple and so obvious that the more cynical of you will likely say, ‘Was that really necessary? Did you have to make such a production of this? You’re simply proving that you’re the narcissist we’ve always taken you for.

Well, I’ve got two things to say to that. One is: some people like my photos and whimsical posts and some prefer when I wax philosophic. Some like both, but not many. Quite a few of you have expressed delight when I lay off on the text and stay with the images that make you laugh. Others could do without the filler, and respond positively to my more serious attempts.

The blogposts that take a few days of pondering and writing and rewriting…those seem to make some sort of difference. At least if I’m to believe the comments I get here and the conversations I have with people after I’ve written them. No matter how lacadasical I sometimes might appear, I take this blogging thing quite seriously.

Why?

Years ago someone said to me, ‘If you’re a writer, you need to be writing. You can’t wait for that gig to come to you…you need to keep your writing skills honed and you can use your blog to do so.

I’d toyed with several blogs, none of which I’ll bother mentioning by name, but they had no direction. They were self-indulgent to the extreme. They had no interest to anyone but me.

Then I tried my hand at teablogging, which I still do inadvertently, but I found myself talking about anything but tea. It was great fun to weave tea into these other topics, but at some point it became essential that I find another outlet for my thoughts.

Enter the Dachshund Blog, which you’re now reading, and all the whimsy that’s fit to print. It was designated as the Dachshund Blog by our good friend Lisa Galaviz  over at The Best Self-Help T-Shirt Catalogue Ever in the early days of this endeavour back in the Year of Our Lord 2011, and it took me FOREVAH to stop posting photos of Dachshunds and stories about Dachshunds. I did it eventually, but it was really difficult.

After that, I moved on to real topics that needed to be discussed. Things like poop in postboxes in you’ve got stool and less serious topics like circumcision in Germany, which I covered in getting a baby’s consent is no easy matter.

Back to the photo above. What’s my nugget of thoughtfulness?

Do what you love.

That thing – that when you do it – time stands still. Or appears to.

For me it’s writing. Or playing music.

Or planning the overthrow of a certain Eastern European government that’s been rather anti-democratic lately, but I’ve probably already said too much about that.

If you know what that is for you, do it more often. With vim and vigour.

If you don’t know what that is yet, then find out. You’ll be glad you did. I promise.

Mustard and a Piece of Bread

20120609-183148.jpg
Jarrod and his Sponge Bob ukulele

We’ve been playing together for a little more than a year, Jarrod and I…parties and other informal events. Several times at the International Songwriters Evening Munich, which has been a pleasure. Nevertheless, we have plenty of other things going on, so we haven’t bothered coming up with a name. We play our own tunes, as well as relatively unknown covers (the more obscure the better).

But all this is about to change. Not dramatically. Not quickly. But change it must. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, we’re not partial to entropy. We’re playing at Corso Leopold, which is a festival that takes place in the middle of one of Munich’s biggest streets (Leopold Straße). They block it off – it’s not like we’ll be sitting there while traffic whooshes by – and the festivaling commences.

The website is pretty straightforward if you’re accustomed to German. However, if you try using your google-fu and translate it unsupervised, you might encounter a bit of whimsy. Would you like to see a bit of that? Of course you would:

‘When taken to the streets of Munich, he has a lot to see. But nowhere will open his urban diversity so boisterous, as colorful and surprising as to unsrem (our) large hard-Schwabing. On the Corso Leopold is enjoying the big city, slightly self-indulgent as it is now time, as great in front of a mirror.’

Is someone being taken to Munich against his will? That sounds ominous. Schwabing is one of the more popular neighbourhoods in the northern central part of Munich, but I’d describe it as neither large nor hard. Is it in fact ‘now time‘? Really? I suppose that is a bit self-indulgent. And then the announcement goes on:

‘Amazed, because we are immodest, pushes himself as the crowd in front of the attractions. Come on, there’s something for everyone. Culture for everyone. It works! is the motto. And linger, enjoy life. Corso’s is on the event.’

Are we immodest? Merriam-Webster tells me that this means: ‘not conforming to the sexual mores of a particular time or place‘. Are we really all of that? Well, ok. As it’s written, let’s push ourselves as the crowd. According to this translation ‘It works!‘ is the motto. I can think of poorer mottos. As they say, ‘It works!

So, you’ve been informed: we’re playing at the Corso Leopold. To be more specific, we’re playing at the ‘Theater der Flaneure’ on Sunday 10 June 2012 sometime between 17 and 18 o’clock (according to the map provided, it’s near the Gisela Straße U-Bahn stop). The only thing that’s missing at this point is that we need a name. We’ve been talking quite a bit lately about idling, and our newfound obsession with the ukulele seems to go well with said idling. So the name we’ve come up with is:

Idleright

If you can’t make it, I’m hoping we’ll have some footage I can link to later. Oh, and this is the first time we’re playing ‘Mustard and a Piece of Bread‘ live in front of other people. That’s exciting.

How about all of that? I think It Works!

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some ukulele whimsy

perplexed by an unsolicited package

masonry men in Berlin

This is the perfect blogpost for tumblr. That site still confuses and irritates me, but I’ve been spending more time there and eventually I’ll understand how to better create tumblr content.

But…this: what I’m about to write…it’s not a full blogpost. It’s an unfinished thought. It’s the beginning of a story and the promise of more to come. Perfect for microblogging.

Though I don’t post something here everyday, I do try to polish my work before I throw it up here. As you know, I am particularly fond of whimsy and when I employ a bit of it, I get the best response. I’ve somehow found and attracted a tribe of bloggers whose humour I appreciate and who *get* me. Not sure how it happened all of a sudden, but I’m very appreciative.

Enough introduction…on to the story I came here for.

The other day, I received a package in the mail with a book in it. Because of our work, my wife and I get quite a bit of unsolicited material. Brochures, books, and a wide variety of samples arrive by post and it seems there’s always something that needs to be assessed.

But this package was somehow different. For one thing, the letter accompanying the book was hand-typed. Haven’t seen that in a while. Secondly, the only contact information was an address. A street address.

No telephone. No fax. Nothing.

Most intriguing of all? No website. No email address.

Weird, eh? That’s what I thought.

Like something out of a Paul Auster novel.

Would you have ignored it? Well, you’re better at ignoring your curiosity than I am.

Several days later, I wrote a polite letter asking a few questions. Still curious what this was all about (the book sitting ominously on my desk), his letter arrived and I was even more perplexed.

Soon enough, a new letter arrived.

It turns out he didn’t include any web-related contact information, because he doesn’t use the internet. Not at all.

The plot thickens, eh? More on this when I have more to report.