15 August 2023

Briefly, this happened in the last two weeks.

I got up very early every morning, starting with 4:30 am on day one and slowly moving to 7:30 as of yesterday due to a curious but seriously jet lagged grandchild - my welcome gift to the grandchild's parents. We discovered early morning bird call, picked berries or tomatoes, read books on the sofa until someone produced jam on toast (not toast with jam) for us.

An exhausting day was spent in a "theme" park with life size toys, hundreds, no thousands, of overstimulated children, lousy food options but extremely well organised merchandise sections. A masterclass in consumerism. Not sure who prospered most. The grandchild when asked insisted on the fact that R got his feet wet at the pirate pond as the most memorable event.

Hotel breakfast buffets were lovingly rearranged and as usual, the strict German staff mentality gave way to lots of ooh and aah once a four year old guest explained in English that they were searching for  blueberry pancake. 

We met all the relatives and some more.

It rained a lot, mostly at night. 

The ability to score high at memory games decreases with age. 

I got a throat infection with a funny voice. 

There is a mountain of sheets and towels in the laundry looking at me.

Also, about 50 library books are waiting to be returned.

Not a day went by without a moment of terror.

Now I am on a short hiatus before they all come back for more in a few weeks.



  1. Nothing can wear me out like being with grandchildren I adore.

  2. "We discovered early morning bird call, picked berries or tomatoes, read books on the sofa until someone produced jam on toast (not toast with jam) for us."

    The love of books being passed down the generations. A beloved grandchild. That's for sure. Sending love as you rest and prepare for more family time.

  3. oh yeah, the granny camps. they wore me out. four grandkids, they each got one week to themselves and then the three and four day holiday weekends while their parents worked. loved every minute but a little glad it's over. now I get to enjoy them as adults.

  4. So fun, even if you have to take a nap sometimes. I'm happy for you.

  5. Sounds exhausting but I'm sure you're loving it!

  6. One of the side-effects of being reasonably well-read and getting older is a tendency to re-read. Not wishing to waste time on new books that turn out to be bilge. It's a cowardly practice, I know, but I fear I'm well past the age where I expect to be - or want to be - "improved". Sometimes books I enjoyed in my twenties no longer appeal. I tell myself I'm becoming a more discerning critic, knowing it to be a fib.

  7. Sabine: Sorry for seeming irrelevant but you are the only person I know who might be able to answer. In singing German songs from the classical repertoire, singers of differing nationalities, including German, seem keen to avoid the German "er" sound. Thus "der" becomes "deer" and "erste" becomes "eerste". I've tried to Google this question but it's too complex for Google's tiny mind. I guess it's because the true "er" is not congenial to sing but I'd like some confirmation. Much of my song repertoire is in German and I - in my, no doubt, debutante ignorance - have no problems with the true "er".

    1. Good grief! Can you give me examples? German songs?

  8. Sorry, if it's too difficult. Forget it.

    Otherwise here's a duet from Mozart's opera Die Zauberflöte


    These are the first four lines:

    Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen,
    fehlt auch ein gutes Herze nicht.

    Die süßen Triebe mitzufühlen,
    ist dann der Weiber erste Pflicht.

    Note the pronunciation of "der" and "erste" in the fourth line.

    I realise it's not your bailiwick. But it is a word thing.

  9. Their pronunciation is top notch, nothing overdone or unusual. If anything, the very slight stress on certain syllables is only due to the musical score, where the length of the note requires the singer to extend the syllable (think of "I know why my redeeeeemer lives"). I dimly remember a linguistics seminar on how opera singers have to undergo specific training for accent free etc. pronunciation.

  10. I sing from the same score. And the fact is classical singing does require certain distortions. In spoken English, for instance, the definite article is closer to "thuh" than "thee" (unless specialised emphasis is called for). However the vowel sound "uh" doesn't lend itself to singing and all singers find ways round this. Normally the vowel sound in the German "der" rhymes with "air". In this duet it is far closer to "ear". I wouldn't have brought this up if I hadn't found other classical singers - of all nationalities - opting for this variation. To the point where I concluded there had to be some musical advantage though I couldn't find anyone to discuss the point. The example you quote (redeemer) is merely an extension of the originial vowel sound and its greater length would be obvious in the musical notation.

    I wasn't attacking the pronunciation per se. Almost half my repertoire consists of German songs and I'm well aware - from many first-rate singers on YouTube - of what German should sound like. And where the difficulties lie.These are two excellent singers and both show they are capable of rendering the characters they play, as well as getting the music right. But this detail is clearly not accidental, I could point to a dozen other singers who use it.

    However, if the difference is not apparent, perhaps it's better if we draw a veil over the matter. My thanks for your response.

  11. Whether "der" is pronounced as in "air "or "ear" depends on the region in Germany. This does not imply dialect or accent (that's a completely different kettle of fish), merely the fact that the way German as a spoken language evolved varied (and varies to this day). Most non-German speakers, even at foreign university level, hang on to the concept of a high-German, i.e. THE proper German but no such thing exists, although the way German is spoken in the region around Hannover is easiest to understand and relatable to its written form by foreigners. and thus most often considered to be high-German.
    On a scientific level, we refer to standard German as a normative system for rules regarding written use etc. and common day German (Alltagsdeutsch), which is the way it's spoken and applied.
    Generally, the further north you go in Germany, the more often you will hear the variation of der as in your example, while further south, it's more likely to be air or even dör (as in sir). Again, this has nothing to do with accents, which come on top of that.
    There are some lovely (to me) maps online for many German words and the way they are used and pronounced across the German speaking areas of Europe but they would be over the top now and also, are not available in English. I wonder why.

  12. Thanks for that. Interesting that - to my knowledge - some English and some Japanese classical singers have picked up the regional variant. Frankly I couldn't "hear" a vocal benefit between the two. But then with tuition at 1 hr a week since January 2016 I hardly qualify as an expert.

    I should add I love singing in German. Takes me back to the German family I stayed with in the early fifties when I had enough of the language to chat. Mainly gone now. But then most of the best classical songs and - especially - song cycles were written by German speakers. Cut my teeth on Schöne Müllerin and have now moved up to sixth form with Winterreise. Much tougher. Not that German is easy. Try combining "sch" with "w" but without sounding breathy and you get the idea. As to the umlauted u, ah well...

    On the other hand:

    Du holde Kunst, in wie viel grauen Stunden,
    Wo mich des Lebens wilder Kreis umstrickt,
    Hast du mein Herz zu warmer Lieb entzunden,
    Hast mich in eine beßre Welt entrückt.

    Oft hat ein Seufzer, deiner Harf entflossen,
    Ein süßer, heiliger Akkord von dir,
    Den Himmel beßrer Zeiten mir erschlossen,
    Du holde Kunst, ich danke dir dafür.

    ...and I wobble at the knees. Despite having previously encountered "wie" and "viel" as one word.

  13. I'm glad you got to visit with your grandchild. I'm not a fan of theme parks either but children love them. So glad you get to visit with them in Germany.