Fido and me

Fido and me
Fido and me

Friday, April 30, 2010

Kabop (Kebab) Adventures in Metz


In September of 2004, a friend and I took trains from Paris to Metz, France, and then on to Saarburg Germany.  We spent two nights in Metz in the French province of Lorraine.

When it was under German rule, Lorraine was called Lothringen.  But it had been a French city for a long time by the time Laurie and I arrived and it is likely to stay so.   That made it more difficult for Laurie and me.  We both speak a little German but only a French phrase or two.

The first morning in the city, I went out to explore a little while Laurie, who woke up feeling under the weather,  stayed at the hotel to sleep.   My sister had told me that there was a lovely pedestrian area in Metz - with shops and eating places.  I had a map from the hotel which I followed until it showed a street that didn't exist and I was stymied in my search.

I tried asking people who looked friendly for directions, but most spoke neither English or German.  One nice lady called back a friend from whom she had just parted.  The second woman did speak some German; but I think I misunderstood her, because I walked quite awhile before I concluded this was the wrong direction.  Unfortunately, by that time, most of the shops had closed for their two-hour lunch break - no help there.

Walking by a shop offering Kabops, I decided to try one.  Marilyn, my sister, and I had often seen "Kabop Shops" (as we called them) in Germany and promised ourselves to try one sometime.  We hadn't done so - now here was my chance.

The young man behind the counter looked as if he might be from the Middle East, and he greeted me in a flow of French.  I was unsure if he was asking me what I wanted or telling me that the shop was about to close.  I asked him if he spoke English.  He shook his head. On the off chance that he might know a little German, I tried that language.  His face broke into a huge smile.  He was a new resident of France.  He had worked in Germany during the prior two years and was so happy to have someone with whom to review his German language skills.  The shop was quite empty and so he told me the story of his life, some of which I understood, while he prepared my kabop.  It was more on the order of an exotic wrap than the shish kabob I had expected.  

We said a German "Wiedersehen" and I left, munching.

Views from Metz exploration:


Later Laurie felt better, but not good enough for a kabop.  Eventually we found our way to the center of Metz and a cafe where she could have a late lunch.  Then we explored more of the city, including the Cathedral and a shopping mall.  We had made so many twists and turns that as we toured that we had an almost impossible time finding the way back to our hotel.  Our mileage probably topped five miles.   Metz has a more difficult street configuration than Waukesha, my home city, even though I'm not sure anyone who has spent a couple of hours lost in Waukesha would agree.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tulips and imitation

This is one of my tulips.  It has decided to imitate both a yellow tulip with red streaks and a white tulip with red streaks.

It is a bit like me - it is unable to resist taking on a bit of other's coloration.Whenever I hear someone with a charming accent that varies from my Wisconsin-style American way of speaking, I start to imitate.

An example:On Saturday I woke to humorist Michael Feldman's Show, "Whad 'Ya Know." on Wisconsin public radio.  He was talking to a witty, down-to-earth woman author with a wonderful North Carolina  accent.  Lee Smith, the author in question, is a born story teller.  In talking about her latest book, "Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-eyed Stranger," she charmed me both with her humor and her accent.

I told a good friend about the book and the radio program and automatically began to imitate the accent.  I know that if I listened to Ms Smith for a few days, I would be talking with her lilting cadence and adding extra syllables to my words - in southern fashion.  It isn't unique to me - this need for exactitude in repeating a story.  After my sister Marilyn, age 8 or 9, spent a few days visiting her cousin Georgene, she sounded just like her.  Our mother wasn't amused, "Talk like yourself, not like Georgene," she said.  She wanted her regular daughter back, not a recording of her sister Laura's child.

Where does this need to imitate originate?  Our maternal grandmother, Mary Boehm Probst, "listened-in" on the multifamily telephone line that was the typical mode of country phone service of the 1920s and 30s.  It was her entertainment before the time of multichannel television.  After a call, she would repeat what she had heard, accurately imitating the voices of any two speakers.  Mom said she was a natural mimic.

Yes, it's genetic for our Boehm clan line to imitate - just as it is for my cross-colored tulip.

Yellow tulip

White tulip

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Columbine memories

The picture of a columbine from my garden has a memory connection.

When I was a little girl, there was a place where our parents would take us on Sunday. There was an amusement park with a carousel (my favorite thing). The place we went was called High Cliff because that is exactly what it was. We didn't know it, but we were standing on a ridge of rock formation that goes from the state of New York to Ontario in Canada, then on to the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. It takes its name from the most famous part which is the edge of the famous Niagara Falls in New York.

There was a place at High Cliff where we could walk down rough-hewn rock steps to a lower path. Here we could see the geological formation of the rock and run along the path discovering whatever there was to find. And the little wild columbine, red and yellow in color, grew out of cracks between the rocks. Even as a child, I thought that amazing and also very decorative - as if God had found the dull browns and grays of the rocks too severe and found a way to make them brighter with this little flower.