Last year, I ranted about precarious pigeonholes. It’s unlikely I’ll ever accept when people use nothing but appearances and superficial conversations to draw conclusions about another person’s character. Neither am I amused with one-dimensional personality-based pigeonholes. This anecdote is an exception: Let me start by recognizing that I used to be a bit of a nerd (if you ask the duck, I still very much am one. Well, I do love listsa lot); I was serious about my studies and fair comprehensible grading. That’s why my demeanor becomes particularly serious when I relate to my seniors, superiors, or people responsible for judging my work. In contrast, those who know me better (and in more casual situations) must suffer through my bad jokes and occasionally annoying cheerfulness. One day, my friends/coursemates and I convened with a lecturer who had known us for a few years. After a long serious discussion, we were all exhausted and frustrated. I made a jokey remark, and my friends responded with a polite chuckle. When we realized our lecturer was staring at me perplexed, we froze. “Did you just make a joke?” he asked, looking as if I’d admitted to stealing a staircase.* I don’t remember the rest of the meeting, just that we couldn’t wait to leave the room and have a long, healthy laugh about the situation. Days, even years later, we still chuckled, imagining what kind of person I must have been in our teacher’s mind. It seems my “professionalism” worked too well on him. Don’t get me wrong, I still resent feeling pigeonholed. But the way our lecturer was so sure of his reading of me and how this gave us all something to laugh about in an otherwise bleak situation made this a pretty priceless pigeonhole – one with a crystal chandelier (if we’re going with the literal sense of the word)!
That’s what the duck and I exclaim whenever we look at our read list from this past winter. Even my past regularly-reading self would deem the current duck and me worthy conversation partners. Last year, we met our absolutely achievable reading goal. So, for 2023, we increased it by a single book. And, before the beginning of spring, we were more than halfway there. Believe me, the duck and I didn’t start the year thinking we should try to reach our noncommittal reading goal as soon as possible. But then two things happened that appealed to our personalities so much that reading more than usual became inevitable: #1 Like last year, the duck and I participated in a reading challenge for which we read a little bit every day in January. That went smoothly until, in a weak moment of particularly powerful procrastination, we joined two more reading challenges, comprising a combined 16 prompts to consider when picking books to read this year. As stubborn (still-) completionists and faithful friends of frugality, the duck and I were committed to finishing these two extra challenges, ideally at little to no additional cost.
After our spring-themed snack reviewlast week, the duck and I are keeping up another tradition on this blog. We find it extremely hard to break some of the most useless of our habits, after all. So, here is our 2023 spring photo post. We’ve been slightly lazier busier this late winter/spring than in the pastfewspringphotopostiterations. Therefore, this year’s pictures stem from our not-very-good phone camera. We took them on the way home from one of our local, once again basket-less, grocery shopping trips. Here are the photos we could just about salvage out of our small, unimpressive selection:
Eventually, the duck and I are happy we’ve kept up this tradition for another year. Who knows what we’ll photograph and share next spring (if anything). Have a happy rest of spring (or fall), wherever you are!
Our friend Y always sends us the most delicious snacks. Last Christmas, she outdid herself with sweets in our favorite flavor: matcha! When the duck and I lived in Japan, we took note of Bitte biscuits (as in cookies, not bitty buttermilk bread). But, somehow, I don’t think we ever bought a box. Probably because there were so many snacks waiting to be tasted by us and so little time. So, we were thrilled to see that Y had given us a chance to amend our neglect by presenting us with a box of beautiful matcha-flavored Bitte biscuits. During our Japan adventure, the duck and I were excited each time we spotted a new matcha-flavored snack on the konbini–and grocery store shelves after Christmas. That was when we learned that, in terms of seasonal snacks, matcha is considered a spring flavor in Japan. So, Y has also gifted us the opportunity to once again write about a spring-themed snack in (late) spring! Let’s get to this year’s super subjective spring snack sampling:
“Duckules!” Since editing our Heidelberg video, the duck and I’ve had this melody stuck in our heads. We’d regularly catch ourselves referencing or singing lines from “Zero To Hero,” the song at the midpoint of Disney’s 1997 animated film Hercules; some (= the duck and I) might call it the movie’s “Hakuna Matata.” Eventually, we tried to get it out of our heads by turning it into a movie still duckification. Sort of. It’s more of a movie song still duckification. Which still counts. The duck insists everyone who meets the duck “run[s] wild with oohs and aahs,” so it would only be logical to also “slap [the duck’s] face [and muscular body] on every vase.” Since my pottery skills are nonexistent, the duck agreed a Hercules-inspired digital drawing was good enough. Now the duck and I present the superior duck-version of the vase at the end of the song in the middle of Disney’s Hercules:
Wouldn’t this be a great way to announce a duck-themed online merch store (alongside the vases, “Zero to Hero” features lots of other Hercules merchandise, like action figures, “Air-Herc” sandals, and “Herculade” lemonade)? It would. Even though the duck is spectacular (and allegedly extremely humble), I see no duck-related merchandise in the foreseeable future. But there is this movie still duckification. And we will hopefully keep making them for a while longer.* So, the duck will have to be content with just that for now.
What do you do when you have a song stuck in your head?
Last spring, the duck and I spent some time in Saxony. We had made dinner plans with a pal and remembered that our local friend had mentioned an American-style diner she likes. When we entered 50’s ville Diner, we were greeted by country music and immediate burger cravings. It didn’t take us long to pick the sweet potato burger to go with our accidentally large lemonade. While we have no trouble snacking all day long, the duck and I can barely eat a whole burger and the fries that go with it. But, since we’re no fans of next-day fries, we followed our completionist hearts and nearly finished our plate. Despite the subsequent stomach ache, the duck and I fondly remember our dinner with our pal in true German-American fashion. 5/5 burger buns for the food, ambiance, company… and our impressive accomplishment (or that of our stomachs, really)! ☆★☆★☆
We rarely eat junk food that doesn’t come in boxes with neatly listed ingredients (the love is true. But also, our stomachs are funny). Because our diet is relatively healthy (minus the snacks that make up 20-80% of it), we don’t even consider sharing a burger twice a year “junk food.” In fact, the duck suggested using the term “hunk food” instead. Apparently, that’s the shape of the duck’s soul or something?
As I mentioned last month, my moderate jogging skills virtually worsened through most of last year. While music may potentially boost my speed, our dedicated jogging podcasts, paired with the duck’s cheers and my stubbornness, were my master motivator. Without them, I’m not sure I’d have regularly stepped out of the house to attempt another hopeless jog with lots of walking breaks.
Last year, the duck and I curated a list of our favorite jogging podcasts. We have since listened to a bunch of new ones during our jogs – enough to warrant a new list of our favorite jogging podcasts:
A few years ago, whenever someone asked me about my favorite weather, I would respond, “windy!” without hesitation. My “windy” was a refreshing breeze by the ocean, dancing leaves in the fall, and fresh air atop a mountain. I enjoyed leaning into powerful gusts or receiving a determined push toward my destination from them. Sometimes, I still do. Even when I started living in Tokyo, a city occasionally visited by powerful typhoons, I was convinced I liked windy weather.
It took a series of surprised looks and chuckles from my coworkers after my favorite weather proclamations to make me question my conviction. I began observing my reaction to all kinds of windy weather. When the wind was accompanied by rain, and I worried about the well-being of my umbrella, or when it was so strong that I had to squint to shield my eyes, I wondered if I really liked windy weather the best. I recalled a period when I lived in an old building next to a park. Each time it was stormy out, I worried that my single-glazed window would shatter from a loosened branch or the pressure of the wind.
After a while, I aligned with the majority and made sunny weather my favorite. Despite my previous beliefs in the superiority of windy weather, I’ve always been a regular sucker for sunshine, more so than wind. My mood heavily depends on it.
I still love a breeze on a hot day or watching swaying trees through my double-glazed window. But each time I go for a slow jog on a windy day, I curse the wind when it amplifies my struggle to keep going. In those situations, the duck always asks me how I could ever have considered windy weather my favorite. You know what? Despite all that, I still feel like saying I like windy days (and imagine a refreshing breeze while I do). I suppose my volition to swim against the tide is firmer than my common sense (figuratively speaking. If I had to literally swim against the tide, I would give up after a few seconds).
It’s that time of year again when the duck and I reminisce about our running slow jogging progress. Or shall we call it “regress” this time? “Running for ten hours” would be the logicalcontinuation of our previous post titles. But the duck and I like to stay truthful, and there is no way we will ever deliberately run for ten hours (I’m not even sure zombies would get us there). We did unexpectedly pass the one-hour mark a few weeks ago, though.* However, this was a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence in an otherwise slow year. I want to blame it on my post-Covid energy decline that over 90% of our jogs contained walking breaks (the duck slowed down in solidarity). But one weird occurrence clearly contradicts that. It concerns the duck and my jogging entertainment (because the outside alone isn’t entertaining enough for us to keep jogging).
This is where the uncharacteristic title of today’s post and the following question come in:
Last month, I mentioned that the duck and I took our new camera on a cinematic adventure after testing its photographic abilities at our raw cake munching session. Our chosen location: the romantic city of Heidelberg. Even though it’s a popular tourist destination and had been recommended to us as a fun place to explore by several people, the duck and I had never been. When our friend T suggested we accompany her on a day trip, we instantly accepted. She had planned to meet an old friend who’s also a semi-local and thus would double as our tour guide. While we all reminisced about the good old days and updated each other on what our shared friends and acquaintances were up to, the duck and I also made it a personal challenge to be perfect tourists and see as many famous Heidelberg sights as we could in our limited time in this picturesque city. Here’s how that (and our first outing with our new camera) went:
Working with slightly more stable video from our new camera was much more relaxing than trying to turn the shaky footage from our UK visit, taken by our non-stabilized mini camera, into something somewhat presentable. Now we only have to learn how to capture better video and audio. And familiarize ourselves some more with our editing software and learn how to use more of its tools. Maybe we should edit more videos… Later! At this moment, the duck and I need some well-deserved lazy time after spending way too many hours/days on a video that doesn’t look like we did… once again (and rushing to finish it as long as it was still winter for us because we don’t want to lie). And be glad we finally visited Heidelberg with our friend and have something to show for it.*