G is for … Sorry… I Have to Say It: Great German Guests

After the past number of weeks of glowing, gushing, grateful posts about my Great German Guests, it seems like there can be no other theme for today’s post. Indeed, this evening the house is overflowing with Germans – AB is back for her third stay – MC is here for another couple of days and MC’s two friends – also from Bavaria – dropped in for a quick visit as well. NEVER have the dinner dishes disappeared so fast! Imagine a whole team of Germans scurrying around your kitchen figuring out a better system for putting everything away! And the efficiency with which that dishwasher is loaded! Ach du meine Güte!

german flag

What a shame my German mother was not still here to enjoy the company of our young visitors. In an odd twist, just about everyone who has come to stay has been from Bavaria, which was my mother’s adopted home after her family fled from East Germany as the Russians invaded. I grew up with stories of Bavaria and of the war (Mom was born in 1939) and it’s very odd to hear many familiar place names and some distinctive phrases from the region popping up in conversation.

grandparents day cover

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of when my Omi would come to stay (or, when we would go to visit her in Bavaria). I used to love Omi’s stories, one of which was eventually woven into the picture book, Grandparents’ Day. Omi’s family spent some time in Brazil where, as a child, she was bitten by a poisonous snake. The result of that encounter left a spectacular scar on her leg and hearing her tell the story of what happened next (which involved a blacksmith and an impromptu cauterization of the oozing wound with a super-heated poker) was so awful and so cool I loved/hated it when she would say, “Have I told you the story about the snake?” The process of taking such a grim tale from its original state to the final, more-or-less appropriate-for-young-children format was quite the journey…

Hearing all this German being spoken around the dinner table recently has awakened some corner of my brain where, apparently, quite a bit of German has been sleeping. How is this possible that a language can lie dormant for decades only to be activated by endless conversations about how crazy it is we have all these nice big roads and such ridiculously low speed limits? What’s really strange is that I understand the most when I’m not really trying to listen… kind of like the way you see better at night when you don’t look directly at whatever it is you are trying to see.

Speaking of night… time to sign off: Guten Nacht!



7 responses to “G is for … Sorry… I Have to Say It: Great German Guests

  1. I used to live in a German speaking town before moving to frenchieland, and so for a while my German wasn’t bad but I have barely spoken it since I left so I keep thinking it’s all gone… Until I get exposed to it again for a couple days and things start coming back. I used to think it was too bad I let it slide but honestly it’s just way too complicated a language, all the der die das genetif etc, makes my head spin. The little I’ve retained works fine for ordering a coffee and sandwich and averting a disaster while camping so it serves its purpose in my life 😉
    But so anyway, I hear you, I’m super fascinated by all the things that lie dormant in our brains…


  2. It sounds like you and your guests had a great time. It must have been fun.

    I enjoyed your comments about your faint memories caught in your brain. Sort of like little cobwebs in the recesses of a room. They were functional once. Now they seldom get seen or used. But, they are still there. Our memories are still there, too. It is interesting what present day actions, thoughts, words, smells, sensations will trigger some of those memories from the past.

    Deep space is a fascinating subject. The internal space in our brains is vast, too. It deserves a lot of exploration.


    • The cobweb analogy is a great one… It really is fascinating what is locked away inside the brain – and what it takes to release it. Not that long ago I had a peculiar flashback triggered by looking through a large window into which a fine wire mesh was embedded. Something about that safety mesh transported me instantly to a moment in childhood when I was in a mezzanine overlooking a ballet dance practice hall. The large windows were protected by exactly the same style of glass. I took ballet lessons as a child and often had vivid dreams of dancing with a level of skill far beyond that which I possessed in reality. After my mesh-induced flashback, I had vivid ballet dreams again for several nights. Obviously, some very particular part of my brain had been stimulated in that instant and it took a few days to settle back down again.


      • We can’t always trust our memories to be truthful, either. They can change and be molded by newer ones. Virtual reality brings a whole new realm of experience.

        East of the city in OK where our son is doing his pilot training, is a huge nitrogen liquifying plant owned by the Koch brothers. It sits a mile off the highway that we drive into town. Last fall, I used Google Streetview to drive up close to the front entrance and the parking lot.

        Last week, we drove that main highway again on our visit to son. I felt a brief deja vu that I had driven back along that road to the plant. Nope. I have never done that. But, I could describe all kinds of details to Melanie as if I had.


      • You are so right about the faultiness and impermanence of memories. We’ve had many a heated conversation where one family member remembers a certain event with absolute certainty and someone else is equally convinced their own, very different, recollection is the correct version of events. Obviously, both can’t be right, but our pasts are not quite as set in stone as we like to think. No wonder historians have such trouble figuring out what actually happened way back when.

        Technology is definitely changing all that. Google street view is a good example – and I recently had one of my faulty memories corrected by a gleeful relative who produced an incriminating text message I had sent at the time of the misremembered incident.

        Our collective memories are getting a whole lot better (or worse, depending how you look at it) with Wikipedia and Google never far away. What was the name of that actress in that film with the dolphin and the cave and, you know – that guy with the beard? One moment, please…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s