Jun 012011
[First, a quick brag and aside. Apparently the project that included my first two books for TCM is up for two Association of Educational Publishers Awards.  I am told it is sort of like the Grammy’s of Educational Publishing.  So, sort of fun!  For those of you playing at home, the two titles I wrote for the series are Sal Fink: American Tall Tales and Legends (Building Fluency Through Reader’s Theater) and  Pecos Bill and Slu-Foot Sue: American Tall Tales and Legends (Building Fluency Through Reader’s Theater)
Sal Fink: American Tall Tales and Legends (Building Fluency Through Reader's Theater) Pecos Bill and Slu-Foot Sue: American Tall Tales and Legends (Building Fluency Through Reader's Theater)

(Incidentally, and perhaps not coincidentally, two of my cousins also wrote on that series!  Diana Herweck wrote Davy Crockett: American Tall Tales and Legends (Building Fluency Through Reader’s Theater) Dona Rice, who is now the Editor in Chief of the whole company wrote Paul Bunyan: American Tall Tales and Legends (Building Fluency Through Reader’s Theater) and John Henry: American Tall Tales and Legends (Building Fluency Through Reader’s Theater).  Dona lured me into this career path with the Sal Fink book and I haven’t looked back since!)]

Now back to Germany!

This week has been a busy one.  I restarted work with a 1/2 time project.  So, I am trying to juggle that, getting the new apartment ready, and all the usual Day to Day Life in a New Country kinds of things.  The end result  is that I am stretched a little thin, but I am (mostly) having a great time!  I find I really enjoy the diversity of life here.  I can pick any direction and a few feet out the door is something new and interesting.  Sometimes I don’t even need to leave the house!

For instance:

The Visitor

Yesterday morning I opened the door to discover a huge man dressed head to toe in black.  His costume was rather reminiscent of a turn of the century police officer, but he had a black skullcap and there were dark wires, brushes, a ball and chain (!) and a small hatchet slung around his body.  My first impression was that he might be collecting for a local community theater production.  He smiled at me reassuringly and instantly launched into a friendly spiel that I had no hope of understanding.  I tried to redirect him to my landlords, but apparently they weren’t home.  He reassured me (I think) that I wouldn’t have to pay anything and kept indicating upstairs in the house.  Finally, perhaps out of curiosity more than anything, I stepped aside.  He instantly leaped through the door and sprinted up the stairs all the way to the attic, where he proceeded to…. clean the chimney!  5 minutes later he came cheerfully down, sweaty and sooty.  He jovially thanked me then trotted off on his way to other jobs in the neighborhood!
His costume looked a bit like this:

It was a hot day, though, so no turtle neck, no gloves and his shirt was partially opened to reveal a black undershirt.

Witness Similarities

A little while later, I also received a call from some local Jehovah’s Witnesses.  But, really the most remarkable thing about them was how similar they were to American Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They were pleasantly dressed, soft spoken and had the ubiquitous Watchtower with them.  Once they understood that I don’t speak German and established that they don’t speak English, they wished me well and left.  I expect I will be getting a visit from some English Speaking Witnesses in the near future.

A few feet outside the door await more wonders

I have mentioned before, I think, the stork nest in the middle of Auenheim.  I had been meaning to get some photos of the Mom feeding her rapidly growing young.  But, as it happened, she flew away just as we drove up.  So, instead, I will treat you to a couple shots of the younglings stretching their wings and starting the Learn To Fly process.  Now I am all nervous for them!

This is where their nest is

Not as clear as I would like.  I will try some time when the lighting is better.

European School

Yesterday the kids and I went into Strasbourg to see the list of admissions for the European School there.  This is a school largely dedicated to providing education for the children of EU diplomats.  Every student is taught in their home language (as long as it is either French, German or English), and then taught the other two languages.  We had not actually been to the school, but had applied for both kids because all the locals had told us this was really our best option for schooling in the area.  (Even local school officials had told us this- remember Frau Frankenstein?).

We largely managed to avoid getting lost on the way, and easily found the school’s two buildings- one for primary/nursery, the other for secondary- just around the corner from each other.  They look like city schools with tall fences with locking gates all the way around.  But, we got there as the students were getting out for the day and were reassured by the pleasant bustle.  We were also pleased to note the Patisserie just across the street :)

DD waited in the car while DS and I checked the list.  We quickly found DD’s name,  but DS was not on it!  We had been told that they have a priority for keeping siblings together.  So, we aren’t sure if maybe his grade is impacted or if perhaps there was a mistake.  So, we are trying to find out.  Of course, since everything happens in three languages, and not all staff speaks all three, it does complicate communication.  Honestly, I think the school would be an amazing opportunity for us if we can finagle the logistics (and manage to get both kids in).  So, stay tuned, I guess!


We continue our work on the new apartment. The first day the kids and I painted on our own, I lost my balance on the step stool and jammed my shoulder trying to catch myself.  This probably would not have been a big issue, except that I had jammed the same shoulder when I fell running for the bus a couple weeks before.  Might I say OUCH.

It is still not fully recovered, but, I have been being kind to it (Lots of ice and rest and some ibuprofen to stave off swelling) and I can largely paint now without too much pain if I am careful.  This is good because for such a small place it surely does require a lot of painting!  Part of this is just that every painting job is bigger than it seems.  The other is that our new landlord & wife in their decorative zeal painted the entire place in various shades of orange!   The pale apricot throughout most of the house hasn’t proved too much of a hindrance.  Honestly, I might have left that if we weren’t contractually obligated to paint.  But, the must-go accent walls in dark rust, burnt sienna and toasty pumpkin are a little harder to cover.  As is the ribbon of red-orange running around the entire perimeter of living room, hallways and master bedroom.

DH and DS in front of some of the lighter orange walls.
DS’s room, almost done.
What a catch he will be!  He seems to LIKE cleaning!
DD working on her room

She incorporated the dark orange-red of the wall as an undertone for her forest theme.

The New Landlord

Speaking of the new landlord, we met him for the first time last week.  His name is Frank Sachs (said zahx) and he is probably our age, soft spoken, blond and German-looking.  He speaks a little English and apparently owns a couple of businesses housed in buildings across the street.  He now lives in one of those. We walked through the apartment with him, Sanja (David’s wonderful co-worker), and the agent for the property.  The two German men talked about and recorded any issues that were found- mostly little things like cracks in wood, or a window that didn’t open correctly.  At one point Mr. Sachs decided to show us how the Fantasy Bathroom works.  He seemed especially proud of the tub.  He showed us in detail how each radio station was selected, how the jets were controlled, and spent a fair bit of time making sure we understood that the light could either go through a variety of colors, or be set to stay on one color in particular.  If you like your bathwater orange, this light can accommodate.

Next, it was time for the shower.  Now, I am going to hazard a guess that Herr Sachs was the Tub Guy, and perhaps his wife is the one who loved the shower- because he seemed altogether more awkward getting the shower to run through its paces.  As you may recall, this shower has a rain faucet, a hand shower, and jets that go all the way down each side.  It is supposed to have a steam function, too, but apparently that and its built-in radio do not currently work.  The jets, though, were worthy of a show, so Herr Sachs gamely set them going.

What he did not take into account, though, was that the shower door was open at the time!  5 people crowded around the tiny, lovely bathroom found themselves swiftly soaked by the Dancing Waters of our soon-to-be shower :)  The only ones to escape the torrent were the kids, who were quite amused to find all the grown-ups laughing hysterically and Herr Sachs somewhat sheepishly trying to turn the faucets OFF.


While everyone in America got Monday off for Memorial Day, here we get Thursday off for Ascension Day.  When David asked one of his co-workers about this, he replied “I am not really up on the religious stuff, but I think it has something to do with Jesus flying”.  Flying Jesus Day is apparently celebrated with local carnivals and, for us, More Painting!

Integration Classes

More Education-  We went down today to meet with a woman who runs the integration school in Kehl.  If we can work out the logistics, I will stat taking 1/2 day language classes at the end of June.  For about 80 EU/month I will have full immersion with other immigrants 5 days per week for 8 months!  At the end of that time I can take a test and be awarded my B1 Language certificate…. which I guess is a good thing.  Whatever the case, I think learning more German will definitely be useful!

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