Tag Archives: humour

4.) Noah’s Ark!

1 Sep

Our new life in New Zealand – 10. November 1999

Our little cottage feels like an old barge dancing on the waves. Noah’s ark would be exactly what I need now. But it has to be water tight from the outside and the inside! It is still raining and raining and this little island seems to go down in a big flood. When we board the Ark I have to remember to take the Dinosaur from the garage, so that, at least, one important species survives (besides cockroaches, spiders, mosquitoes and the common house fly).  The water inside the house comes from little Henry though, who dribbles so much now that I decided to spend some money on proper goggles and snorkels. I really hope that his habit stops before his eighteenth birthday.  It gets even more dangerous when on top of it all, Henry sneezes and the gluey stuff spreads first through my face and then through the whole room like an explosion.  Not a healthy situation for my bacteria-phobia tortured plumber husband. Nothing here is safe of moisture and even the paper in my printer has curled already.   

Little Henry-baby just had his last bottle for today and now he cries again, because I want him to lie down. He hates it and prefers to watch TV sitting upright. I think this little sailor is sick of the rain, too. We haven’t been able to go to the beach to collect driftwood, nor have any other interesting discoveries. For a few days I tried to feed Henry solid baby food. He sits in his pram (we haven’t got a highchair yet) and I try to push a plastic spoon with baby apple puree into his mouth. He must have remembered the medicine I had to give him this way, weeks ago, for his stomach pain.  In a second he changed his little baby face into a grotesque mask, his eyes popped out a few centimeters and then straight away he pushed back the expensive puree with his gluey tongue. It is time for him to get some teeth to block the way back. Then he laughed like mad, while I desperately tried to recover that apple stuff from his chin, before it lands on his monster-washed and turbo-spun bodysuit. We need six to eight a day! Is it normal? As a first-time mum you have no idea what is normal! Anyway… while Henry works successfully against me, our goals seem to have opposite directions, but in teamwork we spread the apple puree round his little Buddha face and even into his nostrils.  Henry loves it, has a lot of fun and from time to time he sucks the puree deep down into his lungs. Mum and Dad are not amused! We try making smacking noises and improvised movements to make him understand where the puree has to go. Then he really starts to enjoy the entertainment and he squeaks like a little piglet. After all, a baby needs clever in-put for proper development.    

My lovely plumber husband spent the whole afternoon writing job applications and his CV, which of course turns out to be very difficult in a language which you can’t speak or understand properly. So he was determined to translate all his qualifications into nice and tidy English, while I hand-crafted tiny Christmas angels from the nut collection I bought at the supermarket. At least Henry was interested in the nuts and he was happy for me, when another golden angel was born and hung on the wall for drying next to the landlady’s golden plate from her grandmother. 

Bernie was writing and writing and nearly forgot his coffee and cigarette addiction with this challenging task. It looked to me like he was working on his memoirs. By dinner time he very proudly presented me with two pages for assessing. After dinner I and Henry started checking Bernie’s writing in the good old German manner (a bit too fussy, maybe!). We marked and corrected every single sentence. Unfortunately my lovely Masterplumber husband felt offended in his honour and in two minutes the discussion totally got out of hand.  Henry again enjoyed the entertainment and happily joined in for a while until he preferred to watch TV and let his parents go ahead by themselves.  Half an hour later Bernie and me sat peacefully at the computer and reviewed the text again. At that time the dictionary looked like it is 100 years old already and the first pages had started to come out. Finally we printed two pages out, which hopefully are good enough to let someone imagine that my lovely husband is looking for a plumbing job. I had no idea how difficult it was. Every time we had a good idea for a sentence in our own language, we couldn’t translate it, because we didn’t know the most important word. When we then tried a substitute, but couldn’t find that new word in the dictionary either.  And if we found a matching word, it had around 37 different meanings and not one of them made any sense to us. Hour by hour went by and the rain outside went on and on flooding our new home country…

After all, only success counts and I am sure, in 124 years we will laugh about it (with no hair and no teeth – exactly like Henry).

Finally Henry is sleeping happily and we are totally exhausted from another busy and exciting day. A few minutes of watching TV before calling it a day, and what’s on TV? A documentary on the sinking of the Titanic! (How suitable!). I can’t watch it! 

Did I just see a Hammerhead shark and a huge Snapper passing by my terrace door? I think, I’ll go to the amazing wardrobe and try to find the inflatable lifebelt and some rubber Duckies for Henry…. I am also not sure if the toilet flush in the basement still works with these high water levels outside. Hopefully no octopus will come up the pipe…  

Time for bed!

To be continued…

(c) Beate Minderjahn


1.) Seaside Living – finally!

30 Aug

Our new life in New Zealand – 4.November 1999

We are very happy to live in New Zealand now, after two years of paperwork, English tests, hundreds of translated documents and a long, long flight with three month old baby Henry in a bassinette. After two weeks it still seems like a dream. I feel a bit like an adventurer, stranded on a lonely island. Everything is new, we don’t understand a lot or it doesn’t make any sense to us (because we are foreigners, I guess). You just have to be open to different habits and ways of thinking. I thought my English was good, especially after succeeding the necessary IELTS Test, but now I have the feeling I don’t understand anything, not the news on TV and not the people either. They talk so fast and with a strong accent, that my brain is just not working fast and flexible enough. While I still think about the first three words, the speaker has finishing his third sentence. But we try our best and persevere and every day we learn new words and sayings. Yesterday I learned that power steer is not a raging bull, but part of a vehicle. I am optimistic and I think in 20 to 30 years I will definitely be able to have a proper conversation with a real person again.

Unfortunately I still can’t send e-mails to my friends in Germany, because we have a modem now, but still no software to use it. The software is on a CD, but the computer doesn’t have a CD drive and therefore we have to go on using the mysterious fax machine, which not only sends faxes, but works as a phone, answering machine, cash register, steam iron and electric tooth brush at the same time. If somebody sends me a fax, the voice on the answering machine asks them to wait until it has finished to clean two dentures, to iron 37 shirts and to finalize the GST report, before it can receive their fax! But the most annoying point is that I have no idea in which sequence this machine from hell works, and every 5 minutes it starts beeping like mad and I don’t know why and how to stop it.

Yesterday morning I took a deep breath and at 7.30 in the morning, I put on my brand new sneakers and ran to the beach, which is only 2 minutes away from the cottage we rented. It was wonderfully warm, lonely and quiet there. I got a lot of fresh air! But unfortunately I didn’t make it very far, because my condition suits more an old kitchen trolley than an enthusiastic pioneer woman on a mission to discover new continents. Here in New Zealand you find many wonderful and lonely beaches. It is very romantic. If only I were young, beautiful, rich, desired and freshly in love… My last walk to the beach with little Henry in his pram was not so romantic, because as soon as we reached the beach, he started screaming like mad. Luckily we were the only people at the beach. The moment we came back home, he laughed his head off. He must have learned that behavior from his dad, who also wants to go home as fast as he can, if anything doesn’t work for him or he feels like there is too much bacteria at one place!

Last night Henry invented lots of new noises, after which Bernie and me put together a one-hour-life show to keep the baby in a good mood. Henry had lots of fun, sticky water came running out of his mouth and he enjoyed spitting and laughing at us. And then finally I smelled that very strong smell and we had to change his nappy. Henry also likes TV and he seems to be the only one in the family who understands anything. He tries to talk to the people on the screen and at least he sees some faces other than Mum and Dad, as we still don’t know anybody in New Zealand.

Little Henry is constipated again and he produces small balls, you could easily use to play table tennis or in a slingshot to get sparrows off the tree. That reminds me of the birds nesting and raising young ones in our gutter. They look like sparrows to me (having no clue about wildlife and plants), they are big, black and have a yellow beak. (later I learned that these are Blackbirds, not sparrows) If Bernie is outside on the deck smoking a cigarette, the birds sit on the TV aerial to watch him and then they scream so loud, that you could hear it in Auckland City. Our terrace must be exactly in their starting and landing zone and the bird poo starts to pile up on the wooden deck. Maybe we have to wait until their young ones leave the nest, before we can sit on the peacefully on the deck, otherwise the droppings will land on our heads or on our BBQ sausages or the Blackbirds’ worms land on my plate.

Bernie is now proud owner of an old Nissan station wagon, and it took him the whole day in gleaming sunlight to clean the car. He cleaned from back to front, from top to bottom, inside and outside (there is nearly no white paint left…). He polished the rims and scrubbed the windows, so that it looks like the glass is missing. Well done! My neighbour had some fun behind the curtains, too. I am sure, she is wondering about the strange habits in our home country. Here in New Zealand a car seems only to be used as a tool to get from one place to another. I haven’t seen anybody else cleaning their cars yet. Maybe it is prohibited and we didn’t know, and maybe next time Bernie will land up in jail, or will be send back to Germany, or he will be sentenced to work in a quarry for the rest of his life…

Henry wants to sit on his own now, but unfortunately his back muscles are not strong enough yet and so he still falls down every time he tries. If I help him, he looks like a little Buddha observing his surroundings, (the world must look very different sitting upright) and he loves it. He smiles from ear to ear with no hair and no teeth. If we have dinner, he lies in his pram next to the table and shows off his wind problems. As soon as I change his nappy, he pees in it to mark his territory. I really seem to have a problem with these New Zealand nappies, as everything comes out at the back after a few minutes. Or maybe it is Henry’s personal sprinkler technique, which extensively increases the un-ecological and un-economical usage of these civilization materials. I remember and I start missing the good old German air, gas and water tight nappies from the supermarket.

To be continued…

 (c) Beate Minderjahn

Christmas 2009

29 Aug

Just another little slice of my suburban life at the end of the world:

I just finished reading a book about the magic of money.  Now it is kind of clear to me, why I still don’t have any. First you need to have a pile of it, the gravitational attraction (similar to magnetism) kicks in and the pile grows like magic. I realized that the biggest problem is to get the first small magnetic pile,which I still haven’t managed to set up. And my son Henry is nearly eleven and finally old enough to learn the truth about money. (beside the truth about Rudolf, the red nose reindeer and the artist bunny, who for 364 days a year sits in his studio and paints eggs and the truth about selling your teeth to a little business fairy in the middle of the night). The shocking truth about money is, that you have to earn it first, before you can type in some numbers at a machine and it spits out the colourful notes. The problem is that on a daily base the children only see, how the money comes out there, but they have no clue how it gets in there. I admit, it is not easy to understand…. and not so easy to explain either.

 Finally I started to rest and relax after a very busy, stressful year and I found time to philosophize about my exciting life as an artist, housewife, mother, diplomat, accountant, teacher, toilet cleaner and taxi driver again. My Asian homestay girls just left and now they learn the other basic life lessons from their own mothers again. And we start to enjoy our own thrilling adventures like hanging on the sofa, watching tv, sitting on the deck with some drinks, having a BBQ for dinner or going to the beach, where I can read more books about the connection between wealth and freedom, while Henry tries to escape to Australia with his body board.  To make my life even more exciting, Henry shows me on his new mini-laptop, what he already knows about computer technology (how to download music and how to skype with his friends and so on). And if I can’t stand the thrilling excitement anymore, I sit at the computer myself and try to do my book keeping, with what I am two and a half month behind already to figure out how much GST I have to send the IRD for a happy new year! (there are some adventures in life, you just can’t get away from…)

For Christmas I bought my own presents (like always) and I invested the money (from the money machine) in garden furniture, so that I can sit outside on my new outdoor sofa with my bottle of Baileys (that I got from Santa and Rudolph – after all I must have been a good girl during the year) and feel like a million dollars, or better to say feel like queen mother! My cat Mimi also loves the new outdoor lounge suite and if I am not sitting there on my throne, her royal Mimi Highness takes over and rules her cat kingdom from that holy seat. Next year that selfish beast gets a golden crown for Christmas! Mimi also adores the Christmas tree we rediscovered in the garage and decorated for her in the living room. Unfortunately the tree, I bought last year with roots (to save the world and the South American rain forest) has in mysterious ways not survived the last year. I am not really sure, but from a scientific point of view it could have been a lack of water what caused its early death. Therefore the special Chinese breed tree from the Warehouse, that I bought ten years ago after we just arrived on this island like Robinson Crusoe with his family, was good enough for now. And if you think about hundreds of little Chinese people sitting in factories, creating these trees and how they glue each artificial needle to the tree by hand, then in a way it is a piece of art, that should be saved for generations to come…    

And, as I said before, my big, fat, black homestay cat (if she sleeps, she stretches to 1.05m!) loves the tree and every evening she sits underneath and sharpens her claws on the stem. Then I have to jump up from the sofa to rescue the tree from falling, because otherwise it would course a first class family disaster , because this year my lovely husband and son team decorated the tree with great grandpa’s good old German glass décor.   For obvious reasons and for the last ten years I was hiding them successfully in a box in the garage. But this year the boys were in charge of the tree and made it very special. And again – Mimi loves it and to her it doesn’t matter where this decor comes from or how old it is. In fact she ignores my warnings. I am sitting peacefully and filled with Christmas feelings in front of the tv, one eye on the series about the old Egyptian mummy, archaeologists just discovered, the other eye on my ancient cat under the tree. I am sure her ancestors must have strolled around the pyramids at one stage. And from time to time I have to jump up from my sofa like a Kamikaze warrior with a samurai sword, to save the tree and to avoid the disaster.    

Santa was very kind this year and brought Henry a brand new mini laptop and now all eyes are set to a modern future. Every two hours Henry comes out of his technical laboratory (what used to be his bedroom until 24. December) und explains his newest explorations from cyberspace to us. The printer works like controlled by an invisible ghost and now I am asked to install Skype on my computer, so that I can chat with my son und we can see each other via computer camera while talking…, But I prefer the good old method of suddenly and unexpected throwing open his bed room door and tell him, what I have to say, from face to face, an eye for and eye, etc. A computer camera is the last thing I need in this world. I would have to put make-up on, do my hair and dress properly to sit in front of my computer, just in case, somebody skypes at me! No thank you! There are certain technical achievements in this world, I can live without! And I love to sit at the computer at 6am, without being washed and groomed and I set there in my old “nighty”, that my lovely husband calls a sack! Besides, if you write something, you can still correct or change it, once you say something and the words have left your lips, it is out there forever and one knows that one word could lead to another war.    

But I have to admit computer technology also has advantages. When I decide to let my ten-year old know, that dinner is ready I have a lot of amazing options to do so: I could send him an e-mail and attach a photo of the food, I could transfer a note via Bluetooth, I could beep on Skype and show him the menu via camera, I could contact him via his website, I could write a song about the food and share it with him on i-tunes , I could send him a newsletter or a link to a Youtube video on how I cooked the meal, I could text him the menu on his mobile phone, I could send him a Hallmark invitation card, I could turn my voice into a ringtone, ready for downloading or ….. here comes the good old method, I could again throw open his bedroom door and scream : “Dinner is ready!!!!!!”. And to be honest, I love that method best, because it even works during power-cuts. Oh, and I forgot, I could send him a message in a bottle, but there is the chance, that the food is cold and rotten, until he finds it.

Before Christmas I quickly changed the furniture in the house, I sold some pieces and bought some new ones on Trade me and my friends know that I have this strange habit since my earliest childhood. If I become frustrated and unhappy, I paint the walls, buy new furniture, and re-arrange the paintings in the house, and I am a happy girl again. Of course instead I could start a psycho therapy, but I love the furniture placement  therapy better and the results are more stylish. To be fair and because I got the furniture, Bernie will get a new garden shed in 2010. Then he (not as a person) can move in there with his tools and materials and boxes and boxes of old business files from his first life in Germany. And I will (with my captivating nature) take over and squeeze the inventory from my Dairy Flat studio (300 sqm) into the 40sqm garage. I hope, that until then Henry has learned from the Internet how to shrink things. And hopefully he can also find out how to stop people from saying things spontaneously or how to switch off the voice while speaking. Somehow I have the tendency to say things to people, that get misunderstood or misinterpreted. (it reminds me very much of my dad – must run in the family). It is not always appreciated to say what you think or trying to help via saying the truth… But that is another aspect of life, I will write about at another occasion.

Maybe I still have to learn more about human relationships and maybe I should reduce my conversations to shortened text messages or start a year of silence. I will give it a second thought.

The only person or thing (?), I haven’t got a communication problem with, is her royal highness, the queen of cat town “Mimi”. We understand and respect each other (except from the little Christrmas tree  problem). In the morning at 6am I prepare her breakfast and serve it on a silver platter, at 8am I lift her up to the golden tap to have the finest, freshest water in town and to show her appreciation once a year she throws a dead bird next to my desk (sometimes it is still alive and I am filled with horror, while she is even more proud of herself).  She just has her own simple rules: If Mimi refuses to be touched, she scratches and bites, if she wants to be the center of attention, she rests her heavy fluffy body on my computer keyboard or on my holy  IRD documents, when she has enough of family life she hides in my vegetable garden (where killer weeds took over and have not left one seed of organic living much to the horror of my 84 year old neighbor gardener), and if I buy the cheap disgusting cat food from New World, Mimi doesn’t talk to me for three days.

And if I’ll ever come back to this planet, I will definitely come back as a CAT!

After a few days of relaxing and peaceful family life over Christmas and lokking at the Christmas photos, I felt the urge to do something for myself. I was thinking about a make-over, a new hairstyle, etc.  In these modern times, you can do nearly everything on the computer, even a hair and make-up makeover.

So I downloaded the software and started my little journey. First you had to choose a photo of yourself and remove the hair and background, so that only your face is left. I can tell you, that is a shocking sight!  It looked a bit like Spaghetti Junction on the Auckland map, if you focus on the wrinkles. Anyway, you load the photo into the software and set visual points, so that the computer knows, where your eyes and your mouth starts and ends. That is important for the make-up makeover. Then I tried around 724 hairstyles in 25 different colours and the only hairstyle I kind of liked myself with, was the one I have already. Then you can chose from hundreds of eye-liners, eye shadows, mascaras, blush, lipstick and lip-gloss. That is amazing! You can even choose the brand and the article number of the ones you like. But I came to the conclusion that the only problem was still my face. It just refused to look good in any of these eccentric and joyful colours. After two hours I gave up and went to bed and dreamed of painless plastic surgery and a beautiful wig.

 And that brings up the old question again. Is it too much to ask for as a woman to raise seven happy children, who become lawyers, doctors and accountants, to have a loving husband who looks like George Clooney and who loves and respects you till the end, a person you can still have wonderful sex with after 30 years of marriage, who buys you unexpected and thoughtful gifts and invites you once a year to a romantic gondola ride in Venice? Is it too much to ask for a lean, muscular body, once you reach 50, to still have nice and soft skin like a baby bottom, to have long, thick, shiny hair and that your boobs stay where they belong without having to wear a German engineered steel construction? Is it too much to ask for a happy, successful and stress-free work life in a job that you love? To have a wonderful social life with lots of friends you can “steal horses” (old Germany proverb) with, have fun with and from time to time have a drinking party where you are allowed to dance on the table without being sick the next day? I can’t believe it. I personally don’t think it is too much to ask for but I am wondering, if one really gets in life what one deserves?

Enough about Christmas photos!

I just come to the conclusion, that in my age you have to concentrate on the more important things in life other than to look good. The inner beauty for example (that reminds me of an appointment for a colonoscopy), the beautiful memories of the good old times (if Alzheimer’s hasn’t taken over yet), life’s wisdom, which I collected in many years of trial and error, disappointments and stupid decision and finally there is still hope, that the medical research will soon come up with an affordable pill to make us young and beautiful again…