Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oh well, while I'm at it

“Oh look, a recipe for toffee apple pudding. Yum. Oh look, it says here that it goes well with roast chicken with braised celery and cider. Excellent. I’ll just roast a chicken while I’m at it.”

Hey BBC Good Food people, here’s a tip: no one on earth ever thought: "You know what I need with this incredibly easy dessert recipe that requires almost no time or effort? An entire roast dinner." 


But thanks anyway.

Monday, October 29, 2012

You should understand me like I understand you

You know it's Monday when you order a ham and cheese sandwich and realize only once you've already come back home, repositioned yourself at your desk, and begun unwrapping your (much-anticipated) lunch (which you decided to buy instead of making at home as a treat to yourself because, hey, it's Monday, the crappest day of the week, so let's live a little! Let's buy a sandwich!) that Sandwich Man forgot to include the ham.

What you have is a ham-less sandwich. Bread and cheese. A prison lunch. A sand. A wich.

Really Sandwich Dude? I mean, first of all, I always order ham and cheese. Never just ham. Never just cheese. And really, if you don't know me by now, you will never never ever know me. Oohh ooh ooh ooh oooh.

(We interrupt this post to bring you a musical interlude featuring Mick Hucknall singing to a bunch of chairs):

But seriously. I'm as predictable as an episode of Murder, She Wrote. So just stop assuming I'm spontaneous and adventurous. You Dutch may like to mix it up from time to time, but not us Canadians. No sir-eee bob. HAM + CHEESE. Every time. Amen.

Second, why would I go outside in this weather to order the most boring food on earth. I'll have you know I have all the ingredients at home to make countless most boring foods on earth. I have yogurt with no sugar in it. I have something called "spelt flakes." I have QUINOA. Oh yeah, and I have cheese. Boatloads of it.

Now pig. There is something I don't have, Sandwich Man. I do not have any pig at all. I went outside for pig, and thanks to you, I just came home with more cow. Thanks, Sandwich Man.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

I've grown so fastened to you

As some of you know, against my better judgment I have decided to try to become a Dutch citizen. In order to do this I first have to prove to Queen Beatrix that I can understand her crazy language. There’s probably also some secret handshake I’ll have to learn for the official ceremony, no doubt involving synchronized triple-cheek-kissing and balancing a cup of coffee and a single cookie on one hand whilst mashing potatoes with the other, but I’m not that far in the process yet and will cross that dike when I get to it.

For now, I’m just focusing on the language, and so I’ve signed up to do the Dutch state exams, which will test my proficiency in speaking, listening, writing and reading Dutch. I take my exams on 5 and 6 December, which gives me a little more than a month to practice. A few days ago my husband and I sat down for the first time in front of one of the sample exams so I could try my hand at a few questions. The result: I am now officially panicking. You see, my Dutch is really good for the sort of things I normally use Dutch for, namely, shopping (“Will that be all?”: yes/no; “Would you like a bag[1]”: yes/no) and reading (i.e. skipping over the boring bits, reading only the words I know, and interrupting my husband every five minutes to ask him the meaning of the words I don’t know) the Saturday papers. But my experience using Dutch for these activities did not help me when one of the questions on the sample exam asked me to explain the process of bookbinding to an imaginary interlocutor.

Now, I understand that I should perhaps be able to do a wider range of things in Dutch than shop and read the Volkskrant Magazine. But bookbinding? Seriously? I mean, how long are books even going to matter? Surely I’d be better off explaining how to turn on a Kindle.

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I decided fairly quickly after that initial study session with my husband that I was going to need to actually practice a little before going into these exams. So I’ve been making an effort. I have started systematically working my way through all of the sample exams on the staatsexamen website, my husband and I have committed to speaking only Dutch with each other and I am also refusing to speak Dutch to my Dutch friends when we meet socially. This last strategy is making my Dutch better but my social appointments quieter (and shorter).

The result of all this practicing is that it's clearer than ever to me now that my Dutch is not flawless. So far I have: (a) referred to “boetes” as “boetjes”, which, if it did translate (it really doesn’t) would translate roughly as “little fines,” which I guess would be the ones given out by the hesitant cops who really just want to be loved and are afraid of hurting criminals’ feelings; (b) responded "It was very dark" to the question on a sample exam “What was it like on the street before the traffic lights were installed?”; and (c) told my husband that I had become fastened to some people I know. 

On the plus side, I have learned a great deal about bookbinding.

The Shoes are Dutch and are therefore spared this terrible ordeal.

[1] When I first typed this it read “Would you like a gag?” Which I think goes to show how much I’d (subconsciously) rather not actually have to prove that I can speak Dutch at all.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What I meant to say # 6

What I meant to say:


What I actually said:


Friday, October 19, 2012

Me: "Honey we need mushrooms." Man who (probably) married me by accident: "Okay, I'll just pull some off the door."

The silly decision to live in a rickety old shack is something I’ve blogged about before. But this week a number of reminders of our folly have presented themselves. And so I give you: 

More signs it was a bad idea to buy a house older than Confederation 

When the “solution” for that annoying dripping noise is to stuff the end of the drainpipe with a balled-up facecloth

When you need go no further than your front stoop for a plentiful supply of mushrooms

When turning on the kitchen lights involves duct tape

When you must ask yourself whether you prefer your new shelves to be level with the floor or with the ceiling. You can’t have it both ways, people.