Apr 142012
 
Almost a year here- The view of Bühl in spring

Slice of life 1 Driving through France this week on my way to pick up DD from school.  There is one place where they are doing a lot of roadwork and the traffic always stalls there.  This particular day, I drive up to the congestion and stop at one of several lights along the strip.  I notice that two of the cars in the next lane are fairly far apart, and two gentlemen are out of their vehicles.  My first thought is that they have had a fender bender.  But, if so, there is no damage- and the cars are at least a car length away from each other.  Hmm.  Then I look more closely at the men.  There is something odd about their attitudes.  Chests out.  Faces puffy and sour.  They keep making these little darty movements at one another.
The first gentleman is a full head taller and probably 15 years older than the other one.  He is stocky, Germanic and has a girth equal to the tire on an SUV.  He looks pissed.  The other guy is also thick bodied, but he is darker and less round. He is certainly giving his tough face to his opponent, but he also has a twinkle to his eye and a barely suppressed air of  “I can’t believe how ridiculous this is” going. As I watch, I feel my jaw dropping lower and lower at the spectacle.  They never come to blows, but all the preliminaries are there.  I have never seen men in the states do anything quite so hesitant.  They look like birds, charging up, then backing away to re-evaluate.  Several times they look like they are about to chest bump.  Then they march back toward their cars.  Then someone says something.  The other huffs. Repeat. At one point the older gentleman spits on the ground.  It looks like he is throwing a gauntlet!  As the light gets ready to change, both men prowl back to their vehicles.
The first gentleman’s passenger is a woman sitting essentially right next to me in the traffic. As her husband gets back in the car (throwing the bird as he does), she turns to me.  And, I swear, she does the best eye-roll I have ever seen and then gives the universal puffed-cheek speedboat raspberry of exasperation as the cars drive off.  As they pull ahead in the next lane I notice that the display of male aggression continues with unnecessary VROOMing, and abrupt lane changes into the nearly-stopped traffic ahead.  Just another day driving in France.

Slice of Life Two- DS and I were going out to the car in the parking lot here at the apartment so we could pick up DD from Hogwarts.  The driveway around the building is only large enough for one vehicle, so it is not uncommon to have to wait while the mail carriers or other delivery people make a quick stop.  But, this time I notice that a black Mercedes is idling in our way.  The driver’s door is open, but no one is inside.  I figure the occupant must be dropping something at one of the businesses and hope that he returns promptly so that we are not late.  As we continue walking down toward the car, I see a distinguished gentleman in a nice dark suit.  His back is to me, but as we approach it is clear enough what he is doing- peeing off the edge of the parking lot into the field!  I wish I could say public urination was uncommon, but it isn’t at all.  Germans- especially German men- will stop at any convenient place along the road and wizz away.  During warm weather I see it several times a week as we drive about.  And David reports that the “rest stops” at the side of the road maintain an ammonia stink, even after a series of rain storms.  Whatever the case, this was the first time I had encountered someone using essentially our front yard for such activity! The gentleman in question never glanced our way, but went on with his business…. slowly.  I am going to guess prostate issues.  Or perhaps our unexpected arrival threw off his concentration.  Luckily, even a long pee doesn’t take that long, and soon enough he dashed back to his car and drove off, leaving the lane clear for us to get on our way. 

Slice of life 3- At a local bakery, David is in line and notes a man ahead of him ordering loudly in English!  “I want one of those and one of those!”  He has no British accent.  David strikes up a conversation and, sure enough- he is an American.  He is here visiting his Swiss son, who, incidentally is mortified that Dad insists on speaking English in Germany!  Amusingly, he seems to have encountered the only attendant at that particular bakery who speaks English and takes his order without problems.  Last week at the same bakery David had the opportunity to help a non-German-speaking co-worker who got cornered by unexpected German questions. 

Birds on the Rhein

Flowers near the bridge

Ducks

Easter Offerings- Different than in the US. 
If you want gummies and rum balls, the Germans have you covered.
Jelly beans are findable.  Plain chocolate eggs are tough.
Robin’s Eggs and marshmallow animals (PEEP) are nil.
At least they aren’t delivered by a bell, like in France!
We call this Murder Row. 
It is where the crows nest.

Went for a drive on Easter- this little guy came out and nibbled on
the grass as we went by.  Nice!

What better to do in the Spring Sunshine!!
(I like the bubble monocle in this pic)

We have seen these at the bakery since we arrived, but I finally got curious
enough to ask what it was…. The bakery lady carefully explained that it
had “Biskwit” and cream inside… hmmm Ok….. Worth investigating
Looks terrible, but it is actually pretty pleasant- sort of like a
mixed-up cupcake.  The inside has a mixture of cake crumbs (biscuit)
and sweetened chocolate whipped cream all piled up on a
shortbread cookie/cracker thing and then dipped in
chocolate.
   

Only the French Germans would think of this-
It is a bretzel-croissant.  Bretzel on the outside….
Croissant inside!  Amazing!
Really, though, I have no idea how you would make one.
You boil bretzels to get that outer quality- if you boiled
a croissant, the butter would melt and you would have a mess!
Trouble with the sugar bunny- napkin stuck to his ears…
Now they are… fuzzy!

 There was a fair in town for the German school holidays- DD was not interested, but DS had been looking longingly at it all week.  So, David finally took pity and dragged him over to Kehl to have some Father/Son play time….

OMG- So glad I didn’t go on that!!!
DS says it started really slow and he thought he would have far too long
to stare at their bizarre decor of robots and unclad females, but once
the ride got going, it proved not to be an issue!

Achtung!! Yes, they really say that!

Yeah, not sorry I missed that one, either…
The only ride with a German Name- Katz Und Maus
DS says it was pretty tame.
Both the Paris Family Men went on the Ferris wheel.  I actually think
this one looked fun.  Though, I can never look at one these days
without thinking of the Chicago World Fair and poor Mr. Ferris dying of
typhoid, broke and alone.  Hmm… Too, morose?
That is a nice view!
Kehl, from the wheel

The Wheel from The Wheel

The Fair from The Wheel

Green

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