Welcome to the swamp! Here, lurking in the muck, where creativity spawns, you'll find Mrs Crocodile, aka Colleen Dunkel, a costumer and teacher based in Basel, Switzerland.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

The joys of motherhood: cartoons, pj's, coffee

This is threatening to be a short list.  My number one joy of being a mom this week, turns out is not entirely embodied in the two little creatures branded to look like me who insist on carrying one or more of my names around with them, but two other kids. 
The first boy I'm in love with, whose head is shaped like a triangle and speaks with an American accent, is very creative and is always dreaming up stuff like roller-coasters. 
His brother, who I also have a crush on and whose head is very long-shaped, almost never talks, but when he does his accent is English, is the mastermind.  Strangely he reminds me of my engineer grandfather.  He can pull a tiny scrap of paper out of his back pocket, unfold it 20 times and brandish the blue-print for the roller-coaster which starts at one end of town, snakes around across town and comes back several times.   They get working on it.  They build it.  Their mom never finds out and it all gets cleared up magically. 
They are some of the most creative kids I know, actually step brothers, called Phineas and Ferb.  They are animated.  And they have a pet platypus who is a secret agent.  Haven't you always imagined your pet was a spy?  So obviously my number one reason for being a mom today?  Watching old episodes of Phineas and Ferb.
Enjoy here:

I know it's "doof", but I love it.
Yours,
Mrs. Dr. "Doofenschmirtz" (rough translation: "like I'm so dumb it hurts")


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Sunday, December 4, 2011

When crocodiles hibernate...

Happy December!  I decided to break my "Winterschlaf" and wake up for the holidays.  There are several reasons for that.  Against my better judgement, I shall give you a reason for waking up and coming back into this world:
A blogger I happened to really enjoy checking out, in a blogeuristic-(rhymes with voyeuristic) kind of way, stopped posting, and I was sad.  It was a death.
Now you can clear your throat and say: "I'm sorry". 
My main motivation for spending my precious time living other people's lives, just suddenly, wasn't there anymore.  What to do?  I stopped reading blogs.  I stopped blogging.  I moved on from fantasizing about other people's lives.  I lived life.  I got a life.  Oh my.  It does sound awful.  I'm feeling very tired again.  So tired I think I'll go back to sleep.
Sing me a lullaby.  Sing me a sweet, sweet lullaby.
Your favorite croco...zzzzz....ile...zzz....
PS if you are really wondering what I've been up to lately, click here: www.mrscrocodile.com.  It's the newly renovated Mrs Crocodile web-site


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Thursday, November 10, 2011


Sculptor Henry Moore:
 "The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is -- it must be something you cannot possibly do."
@import url(http://www.google.com/cse/api/branding.css);
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Friday, September 30, 2011

Do you have ivy in your underpants? Or are you an Ivy League fairy?

Next time I do a show with fairies in the woods I want them all to be wearing these special leaf suits.  I think it would look particularly stunning on the men, don't you?  Admit it, haven't you dreamed your whole life of wearing a green spandex leotard and walking around with a bunch of leaves sewn into it?  Seriously, guys don't be alarmed. Camouflage is an accepted pattern for much of men's clothing-this is just taking it to another level.  When you think about it, warriors, hunters and soldiers have been wearing some kind of camouflage since the all-mighty split up the turf in the Garden of Eden.
The poor "man"-nequin in the picture has these ivy leaves nailed onto his styro-foam, headless shape.  But that's okay, I can only assume that being headless and styro-foam might add something to the camo effect and the show I'm costuming in my mind.  It would be good too if the actresses could carry these headless guys around as props and talked to them, right?  I may be deluded in my take on it, but I like it like that.  Come to think of it, I'll take a whopping helping of delusion any day over a plain old reality sandwich.
Yours,
Mrs Croco
PS These mannequins live at Parfumerie Haycinth in Basel, Switzerland

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Monday, September 19, 2011

"There's no place like home..."

There's no place like home, except of course if you can go out to a musical dressed up all snazzy-like; Mrs Crocodile asked musical fan Simone Jaccoud of Basel, Switzerland about her look for the Rocky Horror Picture Show:
 
Mrs Croc: "What are you wearing?" 
Simone: "Black and white polka dot dress and butterfly brooch, H&M;
"Dorothy, the Wizard of Oz" shoe necklace, online shop, home-made stuff, USA;
Feather Earrings, feathers in hair, black gloves, black handbag, Claire's Accessories, Basel;
Leggings with roses, Coop/Nulu, Basel;
Ankle boots, you young convoy: www.eboutic.ch half price;
Heart Balloon, Blume 2000, SBB Basel, Central Train Station."

Mrs Croc: If you could wear anything in the world regardless of cost, time period etc., what would it be?  Simone: "The real sparkly red shoes Dorothy wore in the Wizard of Oz."

Mrs Croc: Me Too!  Because there's no place like my Home (page)!  Thanks Simone!


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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Crocodile Skin Peeling...Restructuring


"Buckle up that seat belt!  Let's take a ride and see if Mrs Crocodile is back!" said the woman with apple fritter eyeballs who drives like a bat out of hell because she has a tea cup glued to her right hand and a designer armchair as a mouth.  Her cousin in the back seat whose mouth is where her eyes should be says "Great! The engine has no gas but we'll see how far we can get coasting." 
Dear Readers, Just back from the Mrs Croco skin-peeling, and restructuring the subconscious of a reptile--which takes longer than you might think, and other busy-ness stuff.  I hope you enjoyed your little blogiday from
Yours truly,
Mrs Croco


Friday, June 3, 2011

The Art Basel at the Crocodiles: part 3

The management has taken into account that some readers may find the subject of the Art Basel Spin Off Event, Gallerie Muc, a bit tiresome.  However, the PR department at Mrs Crocodile is undergoing some major managerial shifts, so we ask our followers to be patient as we are in the process of writing up new bylaws and printing new marketing material.  In addition to this, at our AGM, which was held between the hours of 7:30-7:45 last Friday, over a plastic bowl of frosted flakes and long life milk, two of the board members, who were for some reason more awake than the coffee drinking CEO, put a statement forward: "Why do you have to stay up half the night sewing costumes for those other people, when we can't even find our underwear?"  The CEO said she would take the matter up with her PA, who has taken the rest of the week off.

Keep watching these pages for more updates on the state of the ART (at the Crocodiles) and maybe something about RENT.

We remain, yours faithfully,
The office of the CEO


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Monday, May 30, 2011

Art Basel at the Crocodiles: part 2

Heart by Alla Crocodile, 2011

Introducing: Gallerie Muc: the latest of Art Basel's spin off events.  Gallerie Muc's founder, Coco Crocodile, speaking in an unidentifiable accent from a country-formerly-called-home, had this to say about the gallery's upcoming show, Pushing Buttons: "This show deals with pressing issues I feel the world needs to know, like why you should never show a six-year-old how to use the enlarge function on your color photocopier."  
The show is set to coincide with the opening of Art Basel.  We contacted the artist, who prefers to be known only as Alla and asked where she gets her ideas: "I tried pushing buttons.  I didn't know what I was doing actually.  I can't read.  Very well.  But my mom showed me what all the buttons do and then how to enlarge stuff and well, now I'm famous.  Mom keeps complaining that the budget for toner has gone through the roof and that it's cutting into the mac and cheese budget.  I think she thought kids were just supposed to sit around playing Fruit Ninja on her iphone till we grew up". 


So there you have it, six years old and they go and stimulate the rest of us out of our creative muck.  We now leave the swamp where we go back to Basel in eager anticipation of the ART.


Submitted by Mrs Crocodile's PR team


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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Crocodiles are ready for Art Basel, part 1

"Untitled" by Alla Crocodile, Basel, 2011,
"I was kind of thinking maybe I might like to try my hand at art.  Oh never mind!"  Just throw your hands up and realize that Resistance is Futile.  One day you wake up, and all your friends are doing some kind of art or creative job and you have to jump in too, even the children rope you in there.  I have tried to get Alla and Kazam to clean up their messes, but the "messes" just keep getting more creative.  When Alla was 12 months old it started with spaghetti sauce in circles on the wall next to her high chair and has continued till I realized last night that Alla had a roll of masking tape in her hand and was taping a paper towel to the bars on the balcony.  Once she finished she stepped back form her work and declared, "Mommy, you are not allowed to clean this up, you have to watch it blow in the wind."  The tone of her voice was the thing that brought me back to the here and now and I was able to respond, "Oh!  How perfect.  It's almost Art Basel."
Yours,
From the balcony,
Mrs Crocodile


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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Are you a Lebenskünstler?

One of my all-time favorite words in German is "Lebenskünstler".  Direct translation: "an artist of life".  Well now doesn't that just sound nice?  Not only because I have found no English equivalent, but because it is one of those words that can't decide if he's got a positive or negative connotation.  He doesn't know if he's coming or going.  Perhaps best described as resourceful, a Lebenskünstler is a person not an adjective.  He has something of the "letting go" of the artist, something that says, "Well yeah, you want such a big house and such a big car and such a big wife, husband, kids, etc..  But I am happy with what I have so I'm chilling out and enjoying life here.  I take my time.  I do not allow myself to be stressed.  I use my potential.  I live in the now.  I'm an artist.  I'm a soul."  But it rings less like Dr. Suess narrative than my description does.

So since Spring has hit in all her Glory, I encourage you to be a Lebenskünstler (masculine) or Lebenskünstlerin (feminine), at least for one day or maybe for the rest of the year...

Yours,
Mrs Crocodile


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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Take me or leave me...

There is a special place in my Croco heart for the character of Joanne from RENT.  Imagine in a few years, when Joanne and Maureen have smoothed out the first years' jitters of a new relationship, Joanne will be on the boards of directors of almost every organization campaigning for women's rights in New York City and will therefore be very busy, because she makes lists in her sleep.  Meanwhile Maureen will be a very good artist and business woman.  But for now they are still in the "There-will-always-be-women-in-rubber-flirting-with-me" stage of the relationship.

Joanne does defend herself and say to Maureen: "I'm not a theater person" But yes, you are, my dear Jo Ann (different spelling intentional here), you are more theater than most of us.  And we love that!  In Semi-Circle's production of RENT, Joanne will be played by Ariane Wildberger. 

Now if Mom-Won-One and Mom-Tu-Two don't comment on this post, I will disown them,


Yours, I'm dead serious, and it's almost my birthday!!!
Mrs Croco


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Monday, May 2, 2011

The King, The Crocodile and I...

Surviving the aftermath of a Royal Wedding and trying to clean up crocodile muck...Here is the burning question: if they bottled the stuff that goes into relationships and sold it on a shelf at the supermarket, how long would it take you to choose Charles and Camilla Brand over the Cate and William Variety?  A tough decision: just slightly harder than the difference between L'Oreal and Nivea.  The fact is, most of our relationship histories look a lot more like the tried and true love of the Charles and Camilla Brand.  I would, though, bet the francs I spend on shampoo (but not the ones I spend on mousse, hair-spray, conditioner, hair-mask and hairdressing) that most of us would want our hair to be better than the reality and go for the new fresh love of Cate and William.  Well, you know, the packaging is nicer, even if, "Gasp!" he's balding.
I'm only writing this to help my readers stave off total and complete depression from not yet having found a prince or princess.  So:
1)  Get out of your lonely tower and stop cleaning and start watching the trees grow.  This is enormously satisfying, as long as you stay in one place long enough.
2) Watch that bit where he puts the ring on her finger.  Wasn't that great?  In Hollywood, the ring slips right on.   Isn't it nice that it was so hard for William to get in on?
3) You can always be happy!  Because your first, second, third, forth and fifth weddings combined, will never be as expensive as theirs.
4) Brighten up! Because if Wills doesn't start with some kind of hair-enhancing product soon, we will have Yul Brynner as the King of England, now wouldn't that be nice?  We could all sing!
5) Don't worry!  You will find your prince or princess.
Yours, singing and cleaning up the muck, talking to birds and mice and generally acting like a princess
Mrs Crocodile



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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maureen rhymes with colleen

There's a little bit of Maureen in all of us, non?  Maureen rhymes with colleen (lower case), cause she playful and a girl (lower case, get it?) and going out with girls and guys and Mark and Joanne can't take it anymore, which is why they dance the tango.  Logic?  No!  Maureen lets it all hang out.  Maureen "will sing native American tribal chants back wards through her vocorder, while accompanying herself on the electric cello-which she has never studied."  And she'll make you "moo"!  Maureen will be played by Denise Lutz in Rent in Basel.

Yours, licking the lips which chowed on the cow that jumped over the moon!
As always, Ms. Maureen Crocodile


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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Roger that!

Roger plays unplugged because no-one has paid the electricity bill, never mind the RENT.  He is writing one great song before he dies.  All the best Mrs Crocodile readers are doing the same.  Roger will be performed by Daniel Raaflaub.  Now please stop reading my blog and get back to your creative pursuits before I bite you.  That should get you communing with your creative god(dess) within!  Roger that?


Yours, as always,
Mrs Croco

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Burning Men, Kissing Priests and Dressing Angels

I love my work and here's why: on Friday, I'm watching a burning man come out on stage at the Theater Basel, last weekend I kissed a priest after Doubt and now for Semi-circle's Rent I get to dress a man in women's clothes.  Introducing Angel. 
Angel is played by Julian David and her character says a lot of wonderful things in Rent, but possibly the one line that jumps out at the costumer in me is said by Maureen, "You'd find an old tablecloth on the street and make a dress--and next year, sure enough-they'd be mass producing them... "  Oh! That never happened to me.


Yours, cutting up flags, Santa suits and curtains again,
Mrs Crocodile


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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mimi Marquez has not paid Rent for a year

This character in RENT incorporates a feeling which many expats are plagued by: "If I hadn't left my homeland for the fair and gray beaches of Switzerland, I might have ended up a recovering drug addict, HIV positive, who fell in love with a Roger, because he has the same baggage as mine.  And I would NOT have lived happily ever after in New York."   Instead, many an American woman married a Swiss man named Roger, switched her name to Meier and called it a day.   By the way, her smile reminds me of someone.  In Semi-circle's upcoming production of RENT, she's being played by Sarah Kappeler.  I hope Mimi speaks to you as she speaks to me.  Dearest Readers she is known to be, "clad only in bubble wrap", which sets my little costume mind going.  She also has no physical baggage, which is good, because I wouldn't want her to choose a crocodile skinned bag.

Yours,
Mimi Crocodile


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Monday, April 11, 2011

My list of four letter words or Mrs Crocodile gets mad, again...

The anger department: not being so well endowed, and speaking with a funny accent, Mrs Croco cursing always sounds comical.  Bad words, don't quite roll, but somehow, accidentally, drool off the tongue, past my mean looking teeth and out of the corner of my lips.  Maybe you have this problem, too.  I liken it to an Englishman ditching "bloody" and replacing it with the "f-word", which should never be done.

Faithful readers from the embryonic stages of my blog will remember a time when I waxed lyrical about cutting up fabric or used a chain saw to get aggressions out.  Sadly, people have been asking me to make stuff with my hands rather than destroy it, so I'm forced to blog to cut up language.  Like fabric, utterances are pliable and unlike fabric you don't have to sweep up the schnipples of the loose words after you write.  So feel free to imagine me standing in the middle of a picturesque, quiet, not just neat, but orderly Swiss street, belting this out: "GO AN' SHOE YOURSELF THEN!" (an utterance which is not all four letter words, but I took the "d" off "and" so you can divide it by four).  Now you try it.  It helps.

I hope this gets you somewhere in the anger department today.  While we are on the subject, "cutting up fabric" is not a four letter word, but TEAR is.  Oh and the picture up top is of the NANOs that Alla and Kazam banged up with a hammer.  Is that FAIR?  They were not even angry, just curious.
So here I am again, ripping at the seams of a project that never should have been SEWN! at midnight.
Mrs Crocodile


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Monday, March 21, 2011

Where can I get fur to put on my stuffed horse?

An internet user googled the title of this post and clicked on my blog.  Maybe on purpose.  I love that.  It is so random.  That somewhere in cyberspace an internet user has a stuffed horse, I'm thinking life-sized here or course, is just great!  And that person found Mrs Crocodile!  What are the odds?  Oh the mind races!  And where would I put a stuffed horse if I had one?  Would I be able to carry it up my four flights of stairs?  Where could I put it in my living room? In my office?  And what does that user do with the stuffed horse that he or she needs new fur on it?  Is it natural wear and tear?  Or could you, if you had a stuffed horse, use it to entertain your friends when they come over for drinks?  You could throw themed parties and ask everyone to dress up like John Wayne.  Oh it's too good.  I think I know what I want for my birthday, but I can't decide between life-sized stuffed horse or life-sized bull.
Yours, seriously branching out, and anyway, I might need it for a show someday...
Mrs Crocodile
PS Just in case another user accidentally finds my blog by googling the title of this blog, here is a link, the business is called Ravishing Beasts-I'm not making this stuff up:
http://www.ravishingbeasts.com/horses/




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Monday, March 14, 2011

Awash with "Doubt"s and Mr Zog's Sex Wax...

There has always been something reassuring about being as old as Mr. Zog's Sex Wax.  Originating from similar nether geographic regions fills me with pride.  But then, sometimes I think my ideas are weird, uncertainty sets in and there is no going back to being certain.

This is why I would like to illustrate the connection between the beautifully crafted writing of the play Doubt by John Patrick Shanley and surfing.  You thought the play was all about a Catholic school and two nuns who suspect a priest of mishandling a pupil, but you could say it's about finally getting to stand up on your surfboard after waiting in the water all morning.  You are up.  You're feeling good.  Mr. Zog provides a great grip for your feet, you feel confident and exhilarated, which is an absolutely wonderful position to be in.  You look down at the rocks zipping by through the glassy water underneath your board.  They look closer than they are.  Doubt, as is surfing, is the dawning on you, that although this ride is great, you could fall and crash into the rocks.  You lean forward and feel that you are about to lose your balance.  You steady yourself again and enjoy the ride.  Still standing feels great.  (Out of nowhere you hear the words of Doubt's Father Flynn: "Even if you feel certainty, it is an emotion, not a fact"). Quite suddenly, you don't know where you are.  You are underwater looking for the way up.  You burst your head out into the air again.  You take your first breath as if you've just been born.  You've just wiped out.  This may involve getting sand under your eye-lids and in other unspeakable places.
Oh dear readers, I have been awash with "Doubt".  I have not written because I have been busy, not surfing but something almost as good: making costumes for a well-written piece.  You can see Upstart Entertainment's version of it when it opens on the 18th of March at the Schönes Haus in Basel, in English, with Stephanie Németh-Parker, Meredith Buser, Frédérique Anklin and Sharon Harris, directed by Andy Tobler.
Check out the web-site: Upstart Entertainment
This crocodile has all her own teeth.  That much I know.
Yours,
Mrs Crocodile


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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Falso friendo

I knew my German had really improved this year when I started spitting at my boss.   

I feel for you if you are struggling to survive in a language, where, correct me if I'm wrong, but enunciate and spit are the same word.  To honor this German mishap, I would like to dedicate this post to what language teachers call: False Friends and "borrowed" words.  If you are not aware of these little nasty guys parading as friends, get to know them. They steal about in different languages usually dressed in drag in the foreign language you are supposed to be learning.  They will really mess up your conversations when you are trying to be serious. 

On the up-side they will lend your small talk some pep when dinner parties turn to "Yawn, no, actually I wasn't falling asleep, please tell me more about what it was like to buy your house".  Drinking enough wine and telling stories about my family seems to help my listeners' eyes widen, too.  But if you never got arrested or no-one got kidnapped or no-one discovered the other side of the rainbow, and not one of your family members ever went diving with sharks, try the false friends and borrowed words topic.  Talking about language in Switzerland is a national past-time anyway.  So, in a country which does not boast of insipid traffic jams or baseball, rugby or late trains, language talk is small talk.

So if the words are borrowed, would you give back eine Dousche, das Handy, der Oldtimer, der Smoking, der Slip or der Pullunder?  To name a few.  They are, and to mess you up a bit, I'm not writing them in the correct order: cell phone, tuxedo, underpants, a shower, vintage car, undershirt.  However, I think the the most famous false friend, which really messes up German, French and Italian as regards English speakers is Preservative--strangely some language teachers insist that it is borrowed, as if any speaker was going to give back the word, because, well, honestly, who knows where the condom has been? 

Yours, because, you are a good friend, and I just thought someone should be looking out for you,
Mrs Crocodile



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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dousch! Douche! Tush!

"Whoa! They are really into douches in this country, huh?" Said Mom-One-Won in her really American accent years ago as we walked down an aisle in a supermarket in Switzerland.  I'm not sure why, but her remark stuck with me.  I think it is proof-positive that learning a foreign language is a long, twisted, rough, at times, sticky, wet, and not to mention, muddy dirt road upon which it would be better to drive a 4x4 rather than public transport, even if it is on time.  Back in the grocery store, in that patient way Expats or Cowpats do for loved ones flown in from the Country Formerly Called Home, I explained to Mom-One-Won, "In German and French, Dousch or douche is the word for shower."
"Oh! So it comes from French then!" she exclaimed.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist or even a linguist to tell you zat French just soundz good, non?  Except when they say NASA which comes out sounding like nazi.  Rockets and douches aside.  The point is, soap and therefore douschgel, shampoo, and possibly washing detergent are totally over-rated.  I tend to prefer more obvious distinctions like the one between window cleaner and toothpaste.  But soap and douschgel are just dumb.   First of all, neither one is good for Crocodile skin, we prefer oil.  Second, you know that saying going around on the internet, "If you can read this, you are intelligent.  If you have a computer, you are rich."  I would like to add to that, "If you have shampoo, soap and Douschgel in your bathroom, you are filthy rich and suffer from dry skin."
Do you realize how many times I hear the word dousch in Switzerland?  It is also the word Alla and Kazam use when they are pretending to shoot at each other.  They have never learned the American English equivalent of Pow! or even Bang! Bang! Their education is sadly lacking in any other sort of mouth exploding shot sounds.  When Alla and Kazam are shooting at each other they say "Dousch! Dousch! Dousch!" Usually while holding up the last bare toilet roll that nobody has replaced or bought a replacement for.

To which I say, "Please close the door.  The bathroom is getting cold, and I'd like to help the world, one douche at a time."
Yours, spreading my tail out of the tub,
Mrs Crocodile

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Body parts and other bits to avoid in the post Valentine's season

How many times have you heard Swiss men say:  "Oh Valentine's day, it's just another over-commercialized holiday."  
To which I respond to all bankers: "Why export a holiday if it's not going to do any good for the flow of the economy and therefore the flow of love?"  Just think: Where would we in Europe and America be today if they hadn't exported Christmas from the Middle East?  Swiss people actually call Christmas "a fest of love",  which surprised me because I thought they were talking about V-day.  And then I remembered Jesus was all about love, too.
Well, we did better than old J.C. this year; we survived it.  Surprisingly, so did the 100 or so men standing in line at the Coop flower market yesterday evening just before closing time, where the line snaked all the way out of the shop and up the escalators to street level: The image is good, non?  I wish I was an illustrator, but I have to use words.  All of the men who think Valentine's day is an over-rated, over-commercialized, imported, annoyingly American fest are on an escalator going down, down, down to get their red roses and there are so many of them they can't stop, so they all start falling on top of each other and trying to run back up the escalator to safety.  At times, you see a few heads popping out of the crowd with a white wrapped up sort of triangular package, they are carrying it upside down like good European flower carriers and are now traveling up and out of the over-rated, over-commercialized, imported American red love fest and making it home to their sweetie where we hope they will remember to practice the out-of-bounds rule on body parts, which is this:  anyone, even yourself, discussing certain negative aspects of your body (and clothing) is completely off-limits.  This includes, hair, hips, arms, thighs and anything else which might be closely related to your anatomy.
If you keep this up throughout the year you may survive the pile-up at the bottom of the escalators,
Yours, with love,
Mrs Crocodile

For more help on buying roses for a loved one in Switzerland: Swiss Survival Tip: Grocery Shopping


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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Expat or cowpat?

As with all labels, "expat" gets old.  You know what I'm talking about.  You've lived as long or longer abroad than you lived in the place you were born.  At least it feels like a life-time.  You made friends with people who spoke your language in the expat community, until you realized that they kept mysteriously disappearing as if there was some kind of guerilla war going on.  And you thought this was a neutral country.  You've learned to guiltily, yet discreetly slip the question to new people you meet at parties: "Is this a permanent move?"  Because you don't want to invest the time and energy in someone who is just going to run off at the drop of a hat to the next better paying job and cheaper country than this one.  You actually speak the language of your host country.  Your own country feels like a host country.  You are tired (really tired) of people asking you: "Why are you here?"  The answer to this question gets longer and longer the amount of time you've lived in your host country so congratulating the person on asking such a great open-ended question is the only right answer.  Because you know that person does not want the three-hour-answer.  We all know that the why-are-you-here question always follows the pre-requisite where-are-you-from question, so you could at this point run.  I have another tactic: if someone asks either of those questions I respond, "I can't remember actually.  Let me think..."  and then I change the subject.  If you're tired of talking about the weather, I suggest the topic of shoes.  Both male and female human beings seem to have a lot to say on this subject.
"Oh!  So you really want to know why I'm here?" at this point, try to smile and not look tired: "I'm a cowpat, I'm not an expat.  I'm working on the soil here and fertilizing it.  Actually, I just got some great new shit-kicking boots on sale.  And you?"

Break a leg, dear readers, I am, as usual, yours, but this time with with water-proof footwear,
Mrs Crocodile


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Friday, February 11, 2011

Bloggers do it with lists (part 2): Time saving tips

Notice I didn't say lips.  But I rather like the sound of bloggers do it with lip.  Do crocodiles even have lips? Never mind.

Here are some tried and true Mrs Crocodile time saving tips:
1) Try a vacuum cleaner that really sucks: Warning: watch out for the kids and certain parts of your anatomy.
2)  Read Mommy blogs:  They are entertaining and remind you that you like your own kids heaps more than anyone else's and you won't have to go through the hassle of breeding again.
3) Keep more than one lover:  I know you won't believe me and I don't have to state the obvious, but breaking up will be a lot less time consuming.
4) Try putting this in your next personal ad: "Watching a man doing my laundry, washing my dishes, taking my trash out, washing my car, washing my windows, carrying my groceries, vacuuming the kids up, cleaning the toilet and doing light DIY work around the house always does it for me.I have a new vacuum cleaner which really sucks."
5) Room dividers: If no-one responds to the personal ad, buy a room divider and put it up in front of the mess.  I have one with a man silk-screened on it.
7)  Meditate: Use that gray matter between your ears for a mini-vacation.
8)  Buy a bull-horn and always keep it with your mobile phone: people may get the message faster than you think, you save time and your voice.  Someday they may come up with a Harry Potter "Howler" App for iphones.
9)  Buy a watch:  You can buy a watch but you can't buy time: so go out and splurge on a great new time piece.

Yours,
With no time on her hands,
Mrs Crocodile

*You don't have to mention exactly what it does...


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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Introducing Hurricane Alla

Ever seen a 6 year-old-cat use a sewing machine?  I liken it to driving lessons with a teenager.  A few days ago--we are still cleaning up the mess--Hurricane Alla threw herself on the floor in front of the sewing machine, "I HAVE TO SEW LUCA A PILLOW!!" Alla screams so the shop across the street and everyone in the tram one block away can hear.  Remember dear readers, Luca is the transvestite dollie, aka Emma.
"In a cat costume?"
"YES!" she screams.
"No," I say and bare my teeth.
Alla throws herself on the floor again.  "I NEED A NEW PILLOW FOR MY BABIES!!!!"
"Stand back Kazam, we may need life vests," at this point I'm sheltering Kazam from the storm and I come back with more:  "Alla, I haven't forgiven you for the time when you were two and climbed up on my sewing machine and peed," I walk into the next room pretending with all of my might that this discussion is over.
"She did?"  Kazam doubles over and laughs himself silly on the couch. When he's able to speak again he asks, "Did you do that Alla?"
Suddenly Alla stops scrambling like an egg on the floor and we enter the eye of the storm.  "Did I do that?"
"Yes, you did.  And you can say sorry now."
"Sorry."
We all exhale.  The storm is subsiding.  Blue skies are returning.
"Okay, let's sew.  But you need white.  I'll thread the machine.  Kazam, do your homework."
Oh the joys of motherhood.  Who knew that we would also become hurricane hunters?
Mrs Crocodile


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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Swiss Survival Tip: Grocery Shopping

Once you get over feeling illiterate and dumb, you can relax and start enjoying yourself.  You will be able to relax after you have learned three languages and one form of Swiss German fluently.  It sounds daunting, but don't be discouraged.  For dialects, I would try Basel-Dootsch; it is peppered with French and English and the odd German word is re-cycled in it, so you will being doing something good for the environment by speaking it.  The other upside to learning Basel-Dootsch, unlike some Swiss dialects, is that people won't think you're choking on something.

Here is the fine print on feeling dumb all of the time.  It is required by law in CH (which stands for Concrete Hobby-horses and is the official name of this country) to sell products with three languages on them.  This is supposed to help you distinguish milk from orange juice.  I don't need to say this, but the label does come in handy if you like warm frothy orange juice in your coffee at breakfast-time.

However, the process of labeling products helps in distinguishing those which are even more alike.  In this lesson, you learn how to distinguish a bunch of roses from a bunch of parsley.  Here is the context for our first lesson: a common enough situation in which you have made a lover's faux-pas and need to make up ASAP.  You have found your way to the supermarket.   Now go to the section where you see flowers.  Good job!

On the package of roses it says Rosen, Roses, Rose, which sounds like a Latin declination exercise so you can feel great about yourself that you are actually learning four very useful languages.  We'll even throw in a dialect for the same price!  This is handy because up until this point you were feeling a bit in the dog house (remember what you had said in that state of intense agitation) and illiterate, which everyone knows is an awful place to be.   Luckily, you can still read my blog which is read by only the best dogs. 

Just in case you didn't get that it was a bouquet of roses and not a bouquet of parsley, you can check the parsley: Petersilie, Persil, etc..   Persil is also the name of a soap, I can't figure out why they named a washing detergent after parsley but I guess since it'z French it soundz better.   Everyone needs washing detergent, too, so don't feel too badly if the washing detergent makes it into the basket with the roses and the parsley;  as in learning any language you may make mistakes.  It's all part of the learning experience.  If you really want to sleep in your own bed and not use the dog as a hot water bottle, you could offer to do some laundry.  Laundry and roses speak volumes so forget about learning a practical language: try ze language ov luv and launderettes.

You'z wi'z a revard ca'd in 'and,
Madame Crocodile

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

My getting through winter blog post

Kirschmagroonli, Gilgen, Basel
Even though I am not qualified to talk about winter,  it does seem like everyone's getting one, so I thought I would, too.  Here's my getting through winter post.  


The problem with winter in Basel is that it is just gray.  The sky is gray.  No white stuff slows us down.  No seasonal excuses to get us to work late.  Trains have this maddening habit of being punctual here as they speed past gray fields, gray trees and gray grass.  Everywhere you look you see concrete, gray headed old ladies, gray newspapers, the gray sidewalk, gray streets, I could really go for some pink or orange or red.  It was five degrees (centigrade) today.  We do not suffer from the cold.  We suffer from a color.  Yesterday I saw a woman with a dashing long red coat on, I was so excited by this apparition, like light at the end of a really long tunnel, that I ran up to tackle her in a bear hug.  Luckily she is a friend of mine.

There may be a reason they painted the sky gray here and it's not the chemical industry's chimneys. That is if you haven't thought of anything more creative to do with your mate than using him or her as a hot water bottle on winter nights, here is my answer to the illness: Kirschmagroonli.  I'm eating one now as I write this post.  See the dark brown chocolate enveloping the pure white cream with just a hint of Kirsch?  I bet you can almost feel the crunchy but slightly chewy macaroon underneath.  Sorry to you who are on the beach in January and sorry to you who decided to do your  P.h.D on Winter (in Minnesota).  You can only get Kirschmagroonli at Gilgen in Basel. 

If you are not planning a trip to this neck of Gray anytime soon, try putting on some bright red lipstick and chucking the hot water bottle.  I hear that works in other countries, too.

Yours, biting down softly this time,
Mrs Crocodile




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Friday, January 28, 2011

Transvestite Dollies

Alla and Kazam have a cross-dressing doll.  Should I be worried?  Wasn't it me who wrote in the last post I wanted to put men into skirts? Am I ruining my children?  Is it that half Swiss half US mixture that is getting in there and messing them up?  Is it because I came form a broken family, made a family and broke it and broke it again?  Is it because I'm working on Rent where there is a cross-dresser?  Is it because I like to wear jeans that are too big for me? Crisis!
Breathe.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Oh, I think I'll be alright.  I'll go back to being me now.  There are four other girl dollies we could...
Yours,
Mrs Crocodile

For more related reading pleasure see : King Tut, the Cardinal and a Transvestite walk into a bar..., Ode to Boyfriend Jeans and Tailors.


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Monday, January 24, 2011

They are scandalously called the Chocolate Friends.

Just in case you weren't wowed by my definition of chocolate friends in the last post: Cotton Candy Friend vs. Chocolate Friend.  Now here's a better one: check out this video of 15 men (mostly) and women who are usually scantily clad in colorful satin singing and dancing their way through Dominican Night-Clubs; they are scandalously called the Chocolate Friends. 


Here are the performers on the beach, practicing for a wild evening wowing tourists, I imagine.  I love the one with the super tight superman t-shirt and matching blue towel around his waist.  I mean everyone knows that towels make great capes.  When you are not flying, you can wear them as a skirt.  This gives me more costuming inspiration than anything lately.  How I have longed to get men into skirts my whole life.  Now in defense: a good chocolate friend finds my ideas sweet and laughs at them and encourages me to get men out of their pants and into skirts.

And what about the one who walks through dressed in gray spandex as a shark?  You choco friends out there just know I love big teeth.

What about the one who is wearing football shoulder pads, but no shirt over them?  Does he need shoulder pads to dance? 

A good friend (like a chocolate friend) should be able to make that beach feeling last, n'est-ce pas?
Cue bongos...



Maybe I really do need a holiday.
Yours,
Mrs Chocodile


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Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Cotton Candy Friend vs. The Chocolate Friend

Have you heard of the Cotton Candy friend?  You know who I'm talking about; it's fun while you're getting to know each other, but there is no lasting relationship built upon anything solid except maybe a flimsy stick.  After a while, you realize it was just a lot of hot air and sugar and you stay friends with them on Facebook.

A Chocolate Friend takes more investment and time.  As opposed to the Cotton Candy Friend, with the Chocolate Friend there is a solid relationship built up which might last many years, even a lifetime.  As an example, a member of my family has had an over 60 year relationship with a Hershy's bar, with almonds please. 

In Switzerland, the variety of chocolate is grotesque, which makes finding the right melt in your mouth experience very difficult indeed.  Two years ago, my favorite was taken off the market.  Strangely, it is still sold in Germany.  So after a few months of personal chocolate hell, where the only treatment was to actually try many different kinds with things mixed in that should never be married with beans grown in a tropical region, I decided on a new favorite or to secretly go over the border for my fix.

If you have lived in different countries, you are sure to have a favorite chocolate and a favorite friend in every city, like a sailor has a wife in every port.  And so it is with Chocolate Friends.  When I first came to Switzerland, I had no friends, so I had to eat a lot of a certain sweet substance, dark please.  By the way, chocolate friends are not hollow, but solid all the way through.  Really good chocolate friends are hard to find and when you do discover them, you tend to horde them obsessively and not share.

I am thankful to my chocolate friends for getting me through the day...
Yours,
Mrs Chocodile


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Proud parent of an underacheiver

 Here is the late George Carlin's skit on "Proud Parents" bumper stickers:


I loved his definition of school: "Where their child has been sent to be striped of his individuality and turned into an obedient soul-dead conformist member of American consumer culture..."

Maybe this is why, Kazam, my son, seems to have trouble concentrating on his homework.  Other mothers of 9 year-old-boys have told me they have the same problem.  When there is some excellent motivation (sadly referred to as bribery by the law or perks in corporations), like watching old Donald Duck on Youtube or playing with a friend outside: Alla Kazam!  The homework is magically done.  But when the only motivation is to annoy his mother, which is probably more value than you think, here is a typical conversation which spans about two hours:
Picture the scene, my beloved son Kazam is sitting at the kitchen table, with paper, pencil, eraser at the ready.  After fifteen minutes and no writing on the page:
"The table is too rough on my skin,"says Kazam.
"Maybe you should look into becoming a paper pusher when you get older," I say.
"What is that?" 
I walk out of the room.
"Will you do my homework for me?" calls Kazam.
"No, I never went to school in this country, I wouldn't know how it works."
"I'm hungry," he calls after a long pause and no movement
"Then eat."
"There's nothing to eat."
"Try the homework."
"That's yucky.
"I know, it's in German.  Try it with salt."
"Mom."
"You said you were hungry."

I'm secretly happy that my child is not an over-acheiver and I don't have to put a bumper sticker on my car that says "Proud parent of an overacheiving little brat in a Swiss public school."  I mean I'm not even sure of the right German translation.   And if you do have a bumper sticker on your car in Switzerland are you are required by law to write it in three different languages?  Well, Kazam has lots of friends, gets invited to lots of birthday parties and speaks three languages; can I write that on a bumper sticker in Swiss German?
Any advice to speed up the homework process, or how to explain how not to become a paper pusher to a kid would be warmly welcomed...
Yours,
Mrs Crocodile

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Feng Shui the kids and other decorating ideas for 2011

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's SINGLE WORKING MOM!!!!
Sticking with the Superhero subject, I'd just like to spew 11 single and working mom decorating ideas out there for 2011. You can follow them, too, even if you have a nanny:

1) Take a hot salt bath: This is a real home decorating idea and was not mine.  I gleaned it from Jayme Barret's "Feng Shui Your Life", where on pages 28 and 29 she suggests starting out your Feng Shui journey with a hot salt bath to cleanse your energy field.  You may choose to stop your journey here.

2) Feng Shui the kids:  They are moving energy anyway.

4) Don't buy any furniture that has to be screwed together: If you do, please don't put it in your love and relationships center.

5) Skip step three: In any case, you won't have time.

6) Try not to stand while drinking coffee: If you must multi-task while enjoying your morning cup, make sure it is while talking to a good friend, reading my blog, or while cleansing your energy field as in step 1.

7) Keep emergency alcoholic beverages on hand: Heaven forbid you should put your faith in a Saint Bernard.

8) Wear your sunglasses inside: This has a three-fold effect: the dust won't show, you will look cool and your crow's feet will have miraculously disappeared.

9) Make sound investments: I have already gotten an extra 8 hours of sleep this year with only one DVD: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

10) Spider plants:  They need very little water and light and they breed by themselves, thereby validating the working mother and the principle that neglect is a valuable educator and that children learn through "natural" consequences.

11) If all else fails, evacuate: You can't see the dust, the mess, the empty fridge or the dirty dishes when you are out of the house

Yours with parachute on,
Mrs Crocodile


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