Nov 272011
My favorite fast-lunch.  It is a bretzel with melted cheese and bacon on top!!  Bad for the arteries, but nice for the mouth.

Autumn Aubservations
This week we have been trying to finish up our Move In Process.  This involves emptying the last of the boxes (only a few of David’s left, now), working our way through the backlog of laundry that STILL needs washing after its time on a ship (everything had kind of an oily film, so seems like washing is necessary before wearing), sorting through the last few things that need to either find a location in the house or be relegated to the storage room in the basement…  But, we did have a couple of interesting things to note, and a few amusing observations to share.

  • DD went to what turned out to be a rather avant garde production of Moliere’s L’Avare (The Miser) at a college in Strasbourg.  There were locked gates and confused locals trying to tell the ‘Englanders’ how to get to the theater.  There were also, apparently, mime costumes and papier-mache 1/2 masks like they use at Renaissance faires.  The play went quite late, though, and DD and DH did not get back home until 11:30 PM.  On a school night.  Ouch.  DD was a zombie the next day.  Luckily *both* teachers who had scheduled tests for that day flaked on them.  Huzzah for flaky French teachers!
  • DH had a fire alarm at work- and it made the local paper.  Some construction worker set off the fire detectors with a faulty grinder.  Several fire trucks and many police arrived and chased everyone from the building- 2ce.  Eventually they all went back in.  But, there were pictures in the paper the next day.  Ah, small town living!
  • DH also had a work party.  Not much happened, but he got to hang out with the South African company tech lead and answer questions from curious kids who might want to be game programmers some day.  He also got to eat decent lamb curry and not so decent fish. Must not have used the thermal bags!
  • The Offenburg Christmas Market officially opened.  DS and I wandered around for a couple hours yesterday, but it really wasn’t all that impressive.  They were serving a lot of hot spiced wine, though.  I am betting Kehl and certainly Strasbourg will be a lot more fun! 

Here are a few slices of life from around these parts:

I had to laugh.  This piece of high art was on sale at the local supermarket- next to t-shirts with zebras on them and wooden rhinos.  I just kept trying to figure out what their buyer must have been thinking to order such a thing.  Also, it was nice to know that American’s aren’t the only ones with gawdawful tastes in home decor.

Some things really *do* need translation.  This is a popular, thick sour milk drink.  Not sure that improves things much, though.

These are, um, milk straws……

DS looking a wee bit German- eating a bretzel, of course.

Typical local image, our property manager sweeping away leaves into the field next door.

Not sure if you can see, but she is using a broom made of twigs.  They are available everywhere.

I did things backwards this year- made our traditional after-thanksgiving donuts the day before I made the thanksgiving meal.  Yumm!

The ice rink has been iced!

Thanksgiving dinner.  Homemade cranberry sauce, gravy, butter, blueberry muffins, Baby Turkey (2.3 kg), pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and dressing made from bretzels and rye bread.  Meant to have another veggie, but turns out we didn’t have one in the fridge and as it is Sunday, there was no correcting the oversight!  The wreath with the 4 candles is a local tradition.  You light one candle on each of the 4 Sundays prior to Christmas. Almost every stall at the Christmas Market was selling these and other greenery.

David making off with the muffins while DD goes for the pie. 
Nov 232011
So, here is the thing. We had a really rotten month.  You already know about the car stuff and my shoulder stuff.  But, then things started getting worse.  My step-dad was diagnosed with cancer.  Our cat died.
Then David’s father died.
I feel like I should have something profound to say.  But, nothing really seems quite right.  
Maybe that is it.  Nothing seems quite right.
David’s family opted not to have a memorial.  I don’t know if there was an obit in the paper. So, here are my few, brief words on the subject.  David’s dad was a good, intense, affable, flawed, creative, wickedly-smart, prolifically productive, competitive, funny, earnest, loving, strong, eclectic, talented, self-driven man.  I liked him a lot.  And I see each of these qualities in my husband and kids.  DS also happens to look a fair bit like him.  His death was not unexpected.  Though, the timing of it was sudden.  He died of a massive lung infection that was the result of his ongoing battle with radon-induced lung cancer.  I don’t know if I can really say we were surprised.  But, we were shocked.  I think we were a bit surprised at how shocked we were.  And, of course, very sad.  My favorite memories of him were when he would make up games to play with the kids.  His mind always took a turn that mine wouldn’t make, so it was really fun watching it work.  Then watching the kids have a blast playing the games they had all made up.  These are a few of my favorite photos of him from over the years.

At Vasquez Rock

Not all the games were just for the kids 😉

DS and Greg in 2000
I don’t have a date on this one.  But, DH was young, so early 90’s, I think.
So, we have spent some time working through all that. In some ways, it felt a bit like time stood still for a while.   But, nothing in the universe stops for long.  So, onward we go.
Not Thanksgiving
Right now in Germany, things are getting prepared.  But, not for Thanksgiving.  Oddly, the Europeans aren’t much impressed by our American tradition of celebrating our ancestors eating a peaceful meal with their soon-to-be obliterated neighbors.  They do seem to like the idea of giving Thanks.  And feasting is all good, of course.  But, Thanksgiving itself is a non-starter.  This can be readily seen by the fact that the only turkeys available are either hard-frozen or boneless-skinless.  And, of course, other New World foods like corn and sweet potato are MIA at most of the stores.  
Additionally, both David and DD have required evening events on Thursday.  David’s work has scheduled a Meet and Greet for the press and local German Game Publishers– employees only.  And DD’s French class is taking a field trip to see L’Avare by Molière.  Since I will no doubt need a few extra hands to cook any sort of decent meal anyways, I think I may postpone our TG celebration until Sunday.

But, people are starting to get prepared for the extended Christmas season.  St. Nicolaus Nacht seems to kick things off on the 6th.  That is when the good saint goes around beating bad children with a big stick.  Then someone hides candy and little toys in the children’s shoes.  They don’t really do stockings in Germany the way we do in the US, we are told.  But, this tradition comes close.   Interestingly, presents here are thought to be brought by the baby Jesus, not Santa Claus.  Though, you never see him.  You are just supposed to imagine it.

Also, as you will see in the pictures, the towns are getting started on the Christmas Markets, Weihnachtsmarkt.  Unless I miss my guess, those will open this weekend.  Decorations have been showing up in the stores since early October.  Though, interestingly, Christmas Music has not.  Shopping here is strangely, if pleasantly, quiet.  

The weather is getting cooler.  It has been raining the last few days.  But, we have also had several mornings with frost.  We are told that snow is not a huge factor in these parts.  It is the warmest region in Germany.  But, an hours drive will get you to some of the best skiing in the world.  Speaking of skiing, DD’s class is planning a ski trip to the Alps, but she has decided she really does not want to go.  I guess I can understand it from her perspective.  But, I admit to being a little put out that I won’t be getting the vicarious experience of her trip!
In other vaguely interesting news, DS has started a new trimester at school.  This time around he has 2 (two!) music classes and a Religion class.  Unlike DD’s school, ethics does not seem to be an option, so he got to choose between Catholic and Protestant.  He isn’t sure which one he wound up in because all they have done so far is play a Name Game to get to know each other.  Honestly, I am not terribly put out by the prospect of his getting some religious education since apparently we have been a bit negligent with him on that issue.  When I was trying to explain the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism the issue of Communion came up.  He thought it might be a drug.  Or perhaps a siege weapon.  Yeah, I think it might be good to learn a bit more than that!

Next week my mom and Mark come for a visit.  We will be making the Weihnachtsmarkt circuit and checking out what the season has to offer. So, That should be fun :)  Hope to have interesting things to show as the season moves forward!
plowing the ex-corn field

The huge blades leave a deep groove to one side- the driver uses that as a guide for one wheel on the next pass

dd getting ready for her skating party (It went well- one fall, lots of friendlies, but none of her closest buds were there)

Mom! Knock it off!

We arrived in town today expecting Christmas music.  We got a Peruvian band.

But they are prepping for the Christmas Market!

This will be an ice rink.  Was just starting to freeze

German oddity.  We finally found a decent fish market.  They seal the fish in thermal paper with a heat press to keep it cold till you get it home!
Nov 122011
When the local Home Depot clone thinks it is a good idea to spend about $20 U.S. marten-proofing the wiring on your car…

The label photo is just classic!

Nov 082011
Looking a bit grey out there

Never ask a diabetic for Halloween Candy in Germany
I learned this the hard way.  Even though Halloween is largely a non-event in these parts (a few parties, nothing more), I still got the craving for a little sum-sumptin.  So, I asked my kind hubby to pick me up a little taste of home when he made his market run.  Since there were no big American-style candy displays with Milky Way minis or Peanut Butter Cups, he apparently just decided to choose by color.  This is what he got:

I won’t make you translate.  It is organic vegan black licorice made with all natural cane juice!!!  Good?  Actually, yeah.  But not really the Craptastic Halloween Experience I was looking for.

My contribution: Candy Corn Cookies- The orange came out too red, but not bad otherwise

That is the watchword this month.  Everything is work.  But, we whistle when we can, so Bring It On.  The nice thing about work is that once you do it, you have, in fact, Done something!

This is doubly true when you are a writer because someday, you know, you will have a lovely little book to hold in your hot hands commemorating the effort you put in. This week I set the wheels in motion to hold 2 little books in the future.  And, left-hand willing, I should have 3 more submitted by the end of the week, 3 more after that by the end of the month, and 3 more by the end of the year!  I do like my job!  But, if I happen to be a bit slow on the blogs (or emails), please understand.  There are only so many words my one hard-working hand can produce.  And TCM had the rights to about 30,000 of mine over the next few weeks!

New Work
I am told that learning new things, like new physical skills and new languages, can help inoculate your brain from the effects of Alzheimers.  If so, then I have been taking my medicine!  Typing left handed is just slow and tiring.  Mousing left handed, though, is a whole new skill.  As is brushing teeth, washing hair, using the restroom, putting on a seatbelt, flipping eggs in a pan, etc etc etc! 

As I am busy discovering the wonders of a one-handed lifestyle, David and the kids are busy learning that Being Mom does not really involve that much sitting around on your tush time.  Obviously, David gets the brunt of it.  He is suddenly in charge of such disparate tasks as furniture building, child delivery service, cooking, shopping and, of course, helping his wife dress and shower.  To his credit (or perhaps mine) he doesn’t seem to mind those final two all that much 😉  But, juggling all that with his fulltime job is a logistical challenge to say the least.

Unfortunately, this weekend the logistical challenge took on insurmountable proportions when our car, once again, landed at our convenient local VW (fau-veh in German!) dealership repair bay.  It seems that the brake job included in our last major service was, indeed a brake job.  As in a brake.  One.  On the passenger side.  The driver’s side brake, feeling out of sorts and neglected, decided to pick this week to protest.  Unimpressed with the idea of carrying a cardboard sign, it, instead, chose self-immolation as its statement.  The loud noise and 600 EU worth of damage it created DID succeed in catching our attention!  It also kept the kids out of school for two days and David out of work for one.

Actually, he just skin-of-the teeth missed having to make a 4 hour round trip to Hogwarts in the rain (2 hour walking 1 hour on trains and 1 hour on trams) to meet our obligations as Lunch Box Monitors. He convinced the service center to have the car ready at 11 instead of noon.  You can only imagine our relief over that!  Last month we completely Oopsed our Lunch Box day when we found out about my shoulder, so we really had no wiggle room on this one!

Unfortunately, the car issues kept us from getting out to see Autumn color at its height.  I am rather piqued by that.  But, at least the tree by our bedroom window has been putting on a show :)

New Parts
Oh, that is right.  I promised to tell you about Titanium, Sugar and the Mechanical Chair!

The chair is actually supposed to arrive today.  It is to provide 1 hour of “passive movement” of my re-configured arm per day.  I guess we get to keep it for a couple months.  It would have arrived sooner, but, our address was still listed as Auenheim in the computer, so it got taken to the wrong place!

As for titanium and sugar?  Well, apparently I am now sweeter and metalically reinforced.  My tendon is held in place with one large titanium screw that will stay with me for life.  It is also currently supported by a few sugar-based fasteners that will dissolve over the next 3 years or so.  The doc showed us an X-ray.  The screw is deep in the bone so it won’t rub on the soft tissue.  I am not sure how it is attached to that tissue, though.  May be best not to think too hard on that.

Another thing not to think too hard about- the line on my Physical Therapy prescription that says “Manuelle Lymphdrainage Teilbeh”.  Shudder.  First physio appointment is Friday.

New Furniture
Ikea and Roller both got a chunk of money from us last month, and now it is finally paying off- in Sweat, Honey.  Ok, I suspect Debbie Allen’s furniture-kit days are long behind her.  But they are still very much part of our present.  When we conceived of these projects, I am pretty sure everyone expected I would be our primary builder.  Again credit is due to David, who has stepped in uncomplainingly for a long string of what we affectionately and accurately term “Curse and Swear Days”.

David, tell us how you REALLY feel

When in doubt RTFM

Almost done

Ta Dah!!!

This will be wardrobes.
Drawers!  Woot!

David and DD walked 2 km to Bauhaus to buy a kickin drill

Everyone pitching in

Insides done

Drawer adjustment
One Down!  Next one next weekend!

6 months living out of suitcases and boxes- you better believe wardrobes and bookshelves are a Big Deal!

You know, the colors are fading, but this is still a nice view as light plays in the leaves in the mornings.