Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dresden New Years

After work today, I hopped in my aqua speed demon and zoomed (literally was going mostly 90 but up to 120, so fun!) to Dresden. I wandered around the city for a while before checking into my sweet little pension room. Navigation went okay even without a navigation unit. I had to stop in the info center for a little help, but I had such a good time there that I think human interaction is still something we should not disqualify.

The pictures are all of downtown Dresden- Alde Stadt. (Old City.)

Sometimes I have to leave home to rest and I realised after getting here, that is exactly what I am doing.

Love to all in this new year...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Two weeks of Holidays...

You'd think I'd have something great to say. Or at least feel ultra relaxed. But even after 4 days of lounging around last weekend, I'm still feeling like I'm on overload. Is this what the holidays do to you? Or is this just what it is like to be truly back in the real world?

Regardless of the day, it seems like I don't have enough hours. We've had reduced schedules the last two weeks at work, yet every minute is full.

I've been booking hotels, buying plane tickets, mapping things, fixing retirement accounts, calling Kaiser who sent me an erroneous collections notice, mailing packages and picking them up, running and lifting weights, ordering needed stuff off the internet after realising ALL my clothes and undergarments are about five years old, talking to family and friends, entertaining company for three days and trying to fit sleep in there, along with eating and keeping up the house. I feel like a person running mad and getting nowhere.

But in the flurry of activity, my car is now freshly vacuumed and I have my emergency survival kit ready (it's winter and I figure you shouldn't tempt the Gods), so tomorrow I am off to Dresden for New Years. And then where, who knows...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mein erstes Weihnachten auf Deutschland

As I was wandering to my car to hang out at work for a while, Helga was throwing open her window (literally) and started asking, "Wie geht's?" and what was I doing for Christmas? Her son was coming aus die Schweitz today. It was a good way to start Christmas eve, which she said is their main celebration day here.

After work, I went to the gym, ran and came home. Decided at 1400 that I should have Christmas, so I created a massive mess in the far end of my kitchen and opened all my boxes. Some years, there's nothing. This year, quite a lot.

I was still hanging out on the floor hours later when I heard the door buzz. It was Helga with a bag of cookies, asking if I wanted to come down for Christmas tea. I said "Yes, after I put on some slippers." Donning my new pink socks, I headed downstairs.

Their Christmas tree was breathtaking- large yet sparse branches with wheat stars, balls and electric candles, one wrapped present underneath. The coffee table, set with tea and cookies and a special Christmas wine, held one of those wooden Christmas decorations with the blades on top and candles below that cause the whole thing to spin. A nativity scene was on a side table. The effect was magical.

The four of us sat around chatting for about an hour, mostly Deutsch, though their son speaks English. They cannot understand! I do think that it's rude to speak another language when others can't understand if you have a common language. Even if my Deutsch is child-speak.

After a while, they mentioned that they were going in die Kirche (church) am halb zehn (9:30) and said I was welcome to join. I said, "yes!" We were wearing rather ratty clothes, so I asked if we should change. Yes, again.

So in ten mintues I took a shower and returned with a skirt and down coat. We hopped in their car and scooted off to church.

The church was in Edelsfeld, just up the road. We entered and it was quite empty. Ernst led us to a pew near the front and we sat down. I took in the colors. Light blue pews with matching velvety seat covers, hand painted walls. Not until I was walking out (and the church had filled up) did I notice that it went up three stories and there was a gorgeous aqua organ in the back. What a sight, after singing Christmas songs in German with my landlords, listening to the choir sing "Oh Holy Night" and the 15-person brass band before and during the service.

A peaceful magical (noncommercial) evening, exactly how I think Christmas should be.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Doesn't everyone need two cars?

How did I go from zero to two in just two months?

Factor in:

I was supposed to be working only here in Vilseck with a ten minute commute. Circumstances have changed; now will be traveling a bit more around Germany (and perhaps Italy) than I'd expected.

Second, one alternator going out on the way home from the gym scare in the pitch black of the night puts a little fire under one's pattoey. (This is the 4th car that I was driving that had the alternator go out. The second in less than 6 months.)

Third, it was in my plan anyway to get a newer car within three months. I just am so overachieving that I did it in less than two.

Fourth, this car is damn fun to drive and it's aqua blue.

Oh, and I'm keeping the hooptie for a while, just in case. Company can tool around in it. I can park it at the train station...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First snow, uploaded with my wireless internet stick

Driving into town- yes, I was taking them from behind the wheel. Luckily you can see that there's not too many cars to avoid.

On Post now, here's my new building. We just moved in last week.

Recycling bins. You can recycle almost everything. My dream. It's not quite as easy as Portland- here you have to sort everything.

My old clinic- the portable. It was actually spacious and warm and really just fine...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Simon & Garfunkel morning

The fridge's gurgling in the corner, long shadows of sun light the kitchen floor.

I'm siting at my little green table with the orange budvase holding a beaded butterfly that's supposed to be in a plant, but I have a black thumb so the vase is safer. I'm not sure how difficult it is to kill a piece of metal, but I might be able to do it.

I woke up this morning wondering, "What is that strange noise?" A scraping sound. Outside my window. Over and over.

My marshmallow white bed cozied me in. I was still in my bathrobe. (Yes, I slept in it.)

Finally I remembered we have snow here. Maybe more! My landlord, Ernst, was out cleaning things up.

Hours later, it's still flurrying. I can't seem to leave the house, though I have my gym clothes on.

It's one of those days where I just want to stay home under my fuzzy John Deere blanket and let life pass by.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter becomes me.

Positive events abound late in the week. The snow falls; life falls into place. Finally.

A phone. Internet. A reliable car. Moving into my new office.

Ok so it's not all perfect yet, but I'm nearing the end of the shuffles back and forth to the store, exchanging phones. Calling the internet company without resolution.

I have a new phone, which allows me to call the States and twenty-two other countries for a flat rate per month. Only $30 (20E). My wifi stick works here and all over Germany. Alles ist gut.

I've even mailed some Christmas cards.

As Friday closes, I'm watching "A Room with a View" from 1986. And preparing for the weekend, which hopefully is restful. (Though I cannot lie, I feel like getting out and jetting over to Czech, since it's only 25 miles away... I just might.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reading people

You may depend upon it that he is a good man whose intimate friends are all good.--LAVATER

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More uncanny horoscopes, if you believe in that thing

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): I trust you've traveled all over creation in 2009 -- or have at least exposed yourself to a wide range of novel sights and sounds near your home turf. I pray that you've escaped one shrunken niche, two narrow perspectives, and three low expectations. I'm also hoping that in these last 12 months, you have regularly sought out pleasant jolts and breathtaking vistas that have inspired you to see the big picture of your unfolding destiny. If you haven't been doing these things with the eager abandon you should have, please take the next flight to the other side of the world. Eat unfamiliar food, meet people who are very different from you, listen to strange music, climb a mountain, and get your mind blown.

I think I passed.

In the twelve months of this year, 2009 gave to me:
12 visited countries;
11 months of homelessness;
10 separate flights;
9 different renters;
8 new pairs of shoes;
7 started phone numbers;
6 tubes of mascara;
5 bouts of montezuma's;
4 summer reunions;
3 different jobs;
2 alternators go out while driving;
and 1 new god niece.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Technology woes

I'm in the ACS (Army Community Services) using the computer, as it's the only place I can access my email accounts since the army has blocked all the non-army emails accounts as well as facebook, blogs, etc. But you can still shop as much as you want online. Go figure. Since I conducted all my correspondence on gmail and yahoo for this job and everything else, this is a considerable irritation. Also since the Gods don't seem to want me to get internet or phone at home, I am really in a black hole of connectivity.

However, with the soon-to-be purchase (that's next on my list today) of an analogue phone, I should be semi-available. And perhaps the internet situation will be cleared up this evening as well. But don't hold your breath for any of it. Unless you wish to die. Then go right ahead.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I got it all put away! (Almost.)

Warm up with a few photos from Heidelberg. Yes, another Christmas market!

Introducing my own Christmas tree, which I set up the very first day my shipment arrived:
The view out my windows: (across the street). Yep, snow finally arrived. Yesterday!

Hi from the bathroom. Ya, I'm still in my pajamas, but I'm waving! And you see that nice butt washer in the corner? I'm gonna start saving the environment and use that one of these days, or else maybe I should wash my hair in it?

Massive happy tub, yet to be christened.

The bedroom. A serene setting for every night.

For some odd reason there's a hallway to a window just next to the bathroom. Since German houses have no closets, it seems like a good place to hide my massive shoe, coat, hat & mitten fetishes.
To the right of that above hallway is the second bathroom.

Piano arrived intact - perfect actually- but is getting more out of tune with each coming day as it acclimates.

From the other side. I inherited that backbreacking TV from John, the previous tenant. I have watched it once. PS the couch folds down.

Patio. Damn cold right now.
The tree in it's natural setting with my two Rapunzel windows. My pet cat is in the right corner. And liquor cabinet on the left. (Patio is out the door to the right.)
Kitchen. There IS a dishwasher and fridge, they just are covered with cabinets.

The light fixture is nearly the same size as my terribly romantic mini table. Which I painted myself.

Ok. Enough kitchen. Only one person can visit at a time.

ENOUGH FOR NOW. I forgot the front of the house! Another day.
I am still struggling with internet access. Hopefully this week it will be tied up.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's the smallest pleasures here that make my day.

Last night, I called Deutsche Telecom to see if DSL was available in my apartment. This required several conversations (if you can call them that) in Deutsch and two phone calls. I found out that DSL is not available, and by the end of the phone conversation, the man on the other line was saying "Schones Tag" and more. We were laughing, I was apologising for my Deutsch and everything felt good, even though I appear to live in the boonieland of low cell phone reception and no DSL.

I was thrilled when I hung up the phone and got something done.

Shortly afterward, our sweet little German cleaning lady came in and started chatting. She thinks I have good German skills. Which I'll tell you having any German skills qualifies "good" to the locals.

Even just writing about this and remembering it makes me laugh and feel breathless.

What is it about speaking in another language?

I've discovered that I'm rather literal minded, word-minded (even though I thought I was only good at math-science person when I was younger) and of course, love learning. So the language high shouldn't be that surprising.

Simple communication. Such a small thing to bring so much pleasure. Yet it is the core of our being- connection with other beings. Most likely, the most important part of our existence here.

Germany is filled with simple pleasures. I am drinking them all in.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My brain works like this

by Emily Dickinson

I felt a clearing in my mind
As if my brain had split;
I tried to match it,
seam by seam,
But could not make them fit.

The thought behind I strove to join
Unto the thought before,
But sequence ravelled out of reach
Like balls upon a floor.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bled , Slovenia- backpedalling to the pictures...

Arrival into Slovenia.

Bled. The church had a sort argyle roof. Beautiful.

Walking down to the lake.

The boats which you take to the island in the center of the lake. Rowed by locals.

Good morning ducks.

They're headed to the Church!

Cute old man syndrom strikes again.

And I'm always a sucker for little girls.

Piles of orange fluff. I romped in it like a child. (Y'all know I'm not terribly mature yet.)

Castle and my church. I didn't go to the castle. I thought it was good enough from afar.

I used to think fall meant "death" but I'm changing my mind these last few years. With leaves like these...

Little crystal droplets were everywhere that morning.

Pom pom tree.

The 3.5 mile path was mostly paved but not entirely.


So damn cool!

It was a little cold for swimming anyway.

Love these colors.

Chainsaw conversations. No one died.

My boat to the island. You can tell by the tilt that I was the only passenger.

Happiest rowing man ever. He built this boat with his own hands 16 years ago after the boat his father gave him 33 years ago wore out. Amazing craftsmanship.

Mini-confessional. No privacy here.

Walking down the steps. I just thought it was so pretty.

Side of a tree.

The church on the island up close. They've had marriages here for centuries, but were banned while Slovenia was communist. The marriages started again in 1989.

Nativity scene by local artist.

The island.

I love Slovenia.

I love orange even more.

Neatest wood piles ever!

Train station...

My hostel.

So nice!

Walking into town.