Monthly Archives: June 2017

“I’m Cleaning My Oven!” #MondayBlogs #women

Growing up in industrial America during the 60’s and 70’s left controversial impressions on the minds of young girls. They were at the mercy of liberal, alternative student teachers coming fresh out of college. They attended open-concept schools and were bombarded by the never ending stream of cable TV. Women’s role in society stood before a revolution—the fight against conservative, traditional duties and the even bigger fight towards independence and equality.

Young girls tended to look up to the young adults of that age. They said things like Question Authority and Think and What, Me Worry? Young girls were forced to choose between conflicting doctrines, ones that either their parents forced on them or ones that they found they could best rebel with. I had a friend in the third grade that painted a peace sign in art class and took it home. Her father, who was in the military, took it away from her and ripped it up. They moved away after that year, so I never saw her again.

Not only did the young girls have to choose. Women were fed conflicting ideals, too. New expressions like Permanent Press and I Don’t Do Windows showed women that if they wanted it, they could exchange oppressive drudgery for a fulfilling life. An example: the commercial for EZ-Off oven cleaner showing women sitting and sipping tea saying, “I’m cleaning my oven.” (I love that, by the way, but I couldn’t find a video.)

But what if sipping tea was not a woman’s goal? What if she wanted more? Some women embraced this new-found freedom and believed that a woman could be all she could be, or at least earn equal pay for an equal job.

The biggest culture shock that hit me after coming to Germany was probably the role that women take on. Women sweeping the sidewalks. Women washing the front stoop on Saturday mornings. Women ironing, women washing their windows once a week. Women earning 20% less for doing the same job as a man.

German women clean their windows like every week. Voluntarily. Happily. I used to tell the women in my aerobic classes that before they give in to the urge to wash windows, they should get down and do 20 (pushups, that is). If the urge was still there, then do 20 more. The only problem is there are men behind these women also urging them on. I have a neighbor who has white tiles all throughout the ground floor. The first time I saw that, I heard my mother in the back of my head: one does not put anything white on the floor. Along those lines, I don’t even wear white clothes.

Yes, there are more women in politics in Germany than in America. They must have someone to care for their kids or none at all. But for normal mortals, the communities are only slowly, slowly, developing decent day-care. Slowly, schools are turning into whole-day schools or developing afternoon programs. (When my kids were small, children were standing at home on the doorstep at 1:00 p.m., elementary school children–11:00 a.m. sometimes–and either the mother was there…or not.)

The roles women play seem to be a continuing theme throughout my blog posts. It is a preoccupation I never consciously knew I had. Women still face many conflicting dogmas and often have to choose in order to define themselves. Am I a woman or a mother? Am I a wife or a lover? To have a career together with a family and make life function is possible but the price women pay for this is definitely higher than for a man. How many supermoms have burnt out and given up their careers to save their health, putting their dreams on a back burner? Or chosen not to have a family in order to maintain a desired lifestyle.

What choices have you had to make?

The Birth of Venus–Sandro Botticelli

Massenkarambolage #TravelGermany #MondayBlogs


What do non-Germans think of when they are asked to name one thing German? Do they think of beer fests with liter mugs of beer, pork roasts and potato dumplings? Do they think of Christmas markets with steaming-hot, sweet spiced wine and Lebkuchen? Do they sing a song from Nena? Or maybe they think of anything having to do with the hundred-odd years between the Reformation and the Thirty Years War. (I know I certainly do.) Or do some think of the cool German cars cruising along at the speed of sound on the Autobahn? What great brands we have for the eyes to feast on: BMW, Audi, Porsche, and my favorite, VW, specifically the Golf. Occasionally a Ferrari escapes across the border to go for a run, or a Maserati. At unlimited speeds. Anyone can drive as fast as they want. Or can they?

Richtgeschwindigkeit–advisory speed limit or reference speed on the Autobahn is 130 kmh. That means that one can drive faster, but if an accident occurs, one could be held liable. But over the years, more and more speed limits have been enforced because of Massenkarambolage—Massive Freeway Pileup. I love language.

My most memorable Autobahn moment: I was driving along, doing my 130 kmh, just minding my own business and two zippy cars came up behind me at a terrifying speed. Everyone should experience this just once in their lives: looking into the rear-view mirror and seeing a Porsche and a Ferrari approaching and instead of ramming me or forcing me from the road (the A3 is two lanes here in my area) one passed me on the left and the other passed me on the right, on the shoulder. Those two men (I’m sure they were not women) left a lasting impression on me for life.



(Reblogged from: RRBC Writer’s Conference)


Last year’s conference proved that RRBC is home to some of the greatest writers, most knowledgeable authors and avid readers from around the world! We are all coming together again, to fellowship (Gather), have fun (Enjoy) and become enlightened! (Learn!). This year’s theme is: When you know better, you produce better and in our year of BETTER at RRBC, this quote hits the nail right on the head! Newbie authors, seasoned authors, and readers of all stages and interests, in one arena…teaching, learning and growing! What an amazing opportunity to be part of an event such as this!

*Get inspired and get to writing
*Market your work to avid readers
*Strengthen your craft of writing
*Network with like-minded individuals
*…and so much more!

This conference and expo will have something grand in store for everyone! We will have sessions on many topics that are of interest to today’s Authors. This will be your time to learn all that you can about the literary playing field, and brush up on things that you thought you knew well.

There will be *Author booths for RRBC members to showcase, promote and sell their books, and Vendor booths for those who wish to showcase and sell their services. No event is ever complete without giveaways, so allow me to mention that our plan for our RAFFLE this year, will be even bigger and better than before, and made fully possible by our SPONSORS! Yes, all this learning, camaraderie and fun, in one place!

Fun…did you just hear me say fun, or did you hear me say FUNNNNNNN? Well, you don’t want to miss our foray into “book” Scavenger Hunting! Stay tuned for more details on this event!

**NEW** this year: FREE ‘RIGHT ON THE SPOT’ CRITIQUING SESSIONS! Bring your manuscript and we’ll let you know what we think, right on the spot! (More specific details to come!)

This event will be held for one full week, beginning October 22nd and running thru October 28th, 2017! If you are an author and have books releasing this year or around this time, this event will be a great venue to debut them!

By now, who hasn’t heard of those amazing sessions presented at our conference last year? If you haven’t, where have you been hiding? You don’t want to miss out on the 2017 sessions and you can register for them by simply clicking HERE! If you are an Author/Vendor, and would like your very own Author and/or Vendor Booth on display during the conference, we invite you to register, as well!


(Author booths are available to members of RRBC only! If you’d like to JOIN US, we welcome you!)

***This event is open to the general public!***

REGISTER NOW! Registration General Info

RRBC Website: Join here

Greetings From the Chaos #Kitchen #chocolate #fudge

Picture courtesy of Cat’s Eye

Laura’s Chaos Cooking Tip #4: Cook clear and concentrated when confronted with Death By Chocolate

Alone in a kitchen with baking ingredients. Somewhere in Germany, 9:30 am.
     Quick breads are exactly what they claim to be. Quick. If you follow the recipe. My favorite is a basic banana bread. But I don’t want banana bread. I want chocolate. I want Death By Chocolate.
     This basic banana bread recipe calls for flour, sugar, an egg, some butter and about a cup of bananas. Some vanilla, some salt and some sort of raising agents.
     Ok, something dry, something wet and some grease. I can do that.
     I need a cup of something wet and mushy like bananas: so I start with 150 grams of melted dark chocolate and mix that with cream cheese until it looks nice and creamy.
     Heart is starting to pump faster and I haven’t even had any coffee yet.
     Add 1 cup dark brown sugar, a packet of vanilla sugar and I put in 2 eggs because I have the feeling this needs more moisture. Add butter: let’s use olive oil instead and pretend to be healthy, about 4 tablespoons. Add 1 cup of whole-meal spelt flour, a dash of salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder and, what the heck, a half cup of cocoa. Remember, this is Death By Chocolate.
     Thinking is becoming sharper.
     Mash that all together and see if it’s moist enough. A splash of olive oil to sink the cholesterol levels and we’re ready to go.
     Now who says you have to bake this fast? I think I’ll drop the temp down to like 300° (150° C.) Put the whole mess in a greased loaf pan an away she goes!
     The icing: Yes, icing. How about something like Aunt Cathy’s never-fail fudge recipe? I just can’t find it anymore. (Note to self: get that recipe so I can share with you guys, it’s wonderful.)
     Melt yet more dark chocolate and add sweetened condensed milk. I don’t know how much but you have to get it off the heat before it gets weird and then stir the daylights out of it. Set it aside but don’t refrigerate it because it will get all hard again. We want it soft and spreadable.
     Thoughts are racing. Is this ‘fight or flight’ or a sugar rush?
     As I write, this wonderful creation is baking away, the outer crust almost frying in the greased loaf pan. Now I need a cigarette.
Chaos Tip #4a: Always set the timer.