Jun 072011
This week apparently we were very German.   ‘Oh?” say you, “Did you drink beer or eat wurst or wear charming leather shorts?”  “No”, “Yes”, and “No, but what a terrific idea!”    
However, what we did do was: 
     1) Spend a LOT of time working on our (new) apartment;
     2) Visit not one, but Two separate town festivals; and
     3) Wrestle with several tiny-but-ridiculously-complex-and-over-engineered electrical items.
I am pretty sure we also get a few points for IKEA, IKEA, IKEA- though, perhaps I lose some for signing up for integration classes (after all, if I were already German, I wouldn’t need them!) and for potentially allowing our daughter to go to school in France.
First up, Festivals!
As I just mentioned, and will mention again soon, we spent a great deal of our time this week working on getting the new apartment ready.  One thing this meant, though, was that we were sort of exhausted and prone to search elsewhere for food.  As it happened, the localities of Kehl and Offenburg were especially obliging on that front this week!   Each kindly put on a local event to provide us with a pleasant distraction and some less-typical food options.  
I mentioned in the last blog that Ascention (aka forevermore as Flying Jesus Day) is a national holiday here.  Well, what else are you going to do with a Thursday holiday than throw a muti-day street fest with local bands, crafts, food booths and carnival rides?  I suppose in the States you might have a mattress sale or something.  But, here, folks seem to take holidays a little more seriously and most of the stores are actually closed.
DS sampling cheese spätzle.

 He might have enjoyed it, but they seem to use fried onions in the recipe, so he was unimpressed.

DD at the Kehl fest

The second festival we happened upon completely at random.  Sunday, we worked all day at the apartment and stumbled into town hoping to find something other than McD’s open.  Often the Turkish places and maybe a bakery or two will be open into the early afternoon, so we were crossing our fingers.  As we approached the Main Street, though, we started hearing music.  And as we got closer we found pleasant smells wafting our way.  Offenburg was having a festival!

But, this one wasn’t the holiday.  This was “International Fest”.  Have you ever been to a Girl Scout International Day celebration?  Typically each troop has a booth with samples of foods, costumes and maybe a craft or two from their chosen Nation.  This was *just* like that- only it was run by adults!  All around the square were little booths with a sign saying what country they were from, a couple of reasonably-priced foods from their region, maybe a person in traditional costume and maybe some samples of regional crafts.  There was a bandstand with a jazz trio playing (other groups scheduled for later) and lots of long tables in the shade to eat at.  There were numerous ads for Integration classes and services and get-togethers in the area, which was nice to see.  Down the block a mini-soccer court had been set up with 4-5 person teams of youths representing various nations engaging in a tournament.   I was gladdened to notice that a girl with Portugal on her t-shirt immediately stopped to offer a hand to the girl with Great Britain on hers as the second girl took a stumble.

All the local ice cream parlors were also open to serve the needs of the festival-goers.  Definitely goodness, there!  Found some very yummy chocolate ice cream I plan to incorporate into my regular diet.  For lunch we had various samples of grilled meats and sausages from, I think, the Syrian booth.  Not all that un-German, come to think of it, but pleasant nonetheless. Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera since I thought we were just grabbing a bite.  But, it was a fun break in our day.

Education Update-

Incidentally, on the issue of Integration Classes.  It looks like I will be taking some of these.  They offer low-cost language lessons to folks who are staying as long-term residents.  But, they are a serious commitment.  5 days a week, from 8:30-11:50 every morning.  For 8 months.  Wheee!  At the end I can take a test and earn my B1 language certificate.  I am not sure what that is good for, but, it seems like a positive regardless!

Also, more news on the kids’ school.  The European School in Strasbourg confirmed that DD is accepted (as long as she passes an entrance exam), but DS is on a waiting list because there isn’t room in his grade.  So, I guess that stuff is still up in the air, but it is possible our kids will be going to school in two different countries!!!  Wild Stuff. 

 Next- The New Apartment

Turns out that moving for the second time in 2 months is a little easier than the first time, but still a heck of a lot of work!  This week we concentrated on finishing up the painting, and started to collect items that we will definitely need.  We had a couple set-backs: i.e. still no working fridge, but that is supposed to be solved tomorrow, knock wood.  And some successes: e.g. found what we think will be a perfectly serviceable table with benches for under budget.  Mostly we just worked our buns off and tried hard not to make all our work look like crud because we were too tired to follow through with the last minute finish.

David working on putting up a stripe in our room
DS finished taping the hallways!

…but all the tape fell off overnight!
Not what he wanted to see!
And, after all that work, what do we do?  Pull it all up in the end!
Taping for another pass at the ceiling line- first one looked…. bad

Nothing bad about DD’s wall, though
Removing the tape- done ‘for now’
We may have used a little tape in her room, too!

Wonder what that will look like once there is furniture!

DD does not need furniture when there are windowsills!

DD’s new favorite spot- she really is a cat!

She reminds me of my Dad here- sketch pad in hand

The Ikea Guys!!!

We ordered our sofabed, a computer table and our washing machine from Ikea.  It was our first furniture in the new place, so I was pleased to see them.

Woohoo!  The Ikea Guys arrived!!!!  This was step 1 on our couch
Many steps later, DONE

True story on these guys- when they arrived, and completely by coincidence I am sure, all the ladies from the office downstairs happened to take their cigarette break at the same time.   They spent their whole break watching the gentlemen unload our stuff from the van, chatting merrily among themselves- only returning to their office once all the packages were unloaded.  Too funny!

The Washing Machine

Speaking of good looking guys unloading furniture- here is DH with our new Ikea washing machine.
Now, a few of you who also follow me on facebook may remember a post I made early on asking about how to run a particularly old German washing machine.  We have gotten relatively good with it, now- mostly because with the help of a friend and her hubby (Thanks Kim!) we just picked one setting and have stuck to that for the past month.   Now let me show you the settings on the, I kid you not, cheapest and simplest German washing machine we were able to find. 

DH unpacking the new washer

Ok, so let’s take a look at the knob to the left… How Many Settings?

Answer- *15*

This is the list of basic operations

One setting is for jeans, another for baby clothes, and one is to help your ironing.  But, my favorite is called “5 Shirts”.  It is for washing, “5-6 lightly soiled shirts”.  Germans apparently take their washing very seriously.  Incidentally, your lightly soiled shirts had best be light in weight, too.  That load can only handle 2 kilo of fabric.  The strongest setting can handle 5 kg- but only if you use pre-wash settings.  All I can say is Thank Goodness this instruction manual came with as many languages as it has wash settings or we would be completely sunk!!!!

Next big accomplishment- Cable TV, Telephone and Internet!!!
50 MB for the moment, may switch up to 100.  Won’t feel like home until the router and TV Recorder arrive in the mail, though- hopefully Friday.  Tomorrow we have the electricians out for try two at our refrigerator.  We tried to get them to install the 2 lights that we still need since I didn’t want to mess with 230, but, and I am not kidding, they said that the Fridge Guy didn’t have the technical skills to install a light and we would need to wait for the Light Guy to come next week.  Boggle!!!  Thursday should be another big furniture day- our dining room table, tv stand and my ergonomic computer chair will arrive.  I am thinking Thursday may be official Move-in day.   I am trying to scrounge enough money to get a little storage and a rug or two.  Gonna need to redo my budget again.  But, we did find a really economical place to go for rugs, so we shall see what I can do.

Oh, remember how I said Germans like home improvement projects?  There are several houses in the Auenheim neighborhood getting facelifts at present.  When we arrived back at the temp-house today, the house kitty-corner to us had a large crane set up for some work.  I have only been here a month, but, maybe I am getting a little Germanized because this didn’t even strike me as odd….

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