Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy May Day

May first is Labor day in Europe and so a holiday. But May holidays go back to ancient peoples and the residue of such rites are still seen today. In Bonn there are no Walpurgis fires as you find in the north of Germany but there are Maibäume. In the night before the 1st of May, boys bring birch trees to girls houses and decorate them with streamers. They stay up all month while the girls "guess" who brought them the tree. Then on the 31st the boys come back to take the tree away and reveal themselves to the girls.

We live in a city so the trees are tied to any upright fixture in front of the house. Since the houses have more than one family and so possibly more than one girl, the name of the beloved must be inscribed in some way on the tree.

This is a leap year, however, so it was the girls turn to leave trees for the boys. Two of the trees we saw were dedicated to Fred or Freddy. I had no idea this was such a common boys name in Germany.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


1. The scaffolding is gone from my windows.

2. Jenny and Derek's cat Bailey passed away today.

3. We booked out tickets to return to the U.S.

4. I only have 509 things left to do on my list. (Okay, I haven't actually counted but 510 seemed like a good approximate number).

5. We had a nice dinner with friends last weekend (the two in the middle).

6. We will gather with friends this weekend for the Rhein in Flammen celebration. It is fully dark here by 9:30 at night but the fireworks will start after 11:00. I hope I'm not too old to stay up so late.

7. We had a beautiful day on Sunday to walk around the Schloss in the neighboring town of Brühl.

8. I have two more articles to read and I will have read a complete German magazine.

9. The scaffolding was still up when the marathon passed right outside our window.

10. If you haven't yet seen our pictures of Paris, you should do so.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

White Easter

We may not have had a white Christmas around here but we had a white Easter. Arlo thinks that I am possibly the only person in Germany that was excited about the snow. The way I saw it was that everything was closed for 4 days, we had no place we had to go, so snow was fantastically cozy. It even stayed on the ground long enough Monday for us to go out and snap some pretty pictures of Bonn. Here's my favorite:

Of course, we had to make the requisite snow man. I promise ... I'll make a bigger one next year when I'm living in snow country.

While it was snowing outside, we had plenty of color inside.

Using this for inspiration, Arlo and I painted eggs. Arlo painted Chester (who is my favorite). Of course we had to have an Easter egg with flow lines painted on it (keep any spherical-esque objects away from Arlo if you don't want flow lines painted on it). I was pretty happy with my heart flowered egg.

Arlo made a sweet Easter basket for me. Of course it had yummy candy in it and a pretty plant. But my favorite part was this Bunny "card."

The view from the back is pretty great as well.

We found the wrapper of the Lindt chocolate rabbits pretty funny.

I hope you all had wonderful Easter weekends as well. Unless you're a freak like me, I hope yours was warmer and more spring-like.

You may have noticed that I've given up on the post a day thing. It was too overwhelming for me. I found myself trying to find things to "feed the blog." Even when I though of something I wanted to post, I felt inhibited by the fact that I didn't have something for the previous day. So I didn't end up posting. Silly, I know. So, I've given up the idea. I will try to post almost every day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Have a pint of the black stuff.

Watch out for leprechauns and other fair folk.

Erin Go Bragh!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rainy Day Crafts

We had a perfectly cozy day inside while it rained ALL DAY. We pretty much stayed in jammies all day. I knit using these beautiful colors. Here is my progress on the baby blanket:

Can you see the frogs yet? Maybe here:

I made another necklace. It may be my favorite color combination yet ... but I don't like how it looks in pictures so I won't show you here. If I'm serious about selling these, I might need to get a tripod in order to take detailed photos. It might also be good to have a dummy neck to put them on. I'm also going to have to get creative with my naming abilities. Turquoise and Brown on Brown Thread is not the name I'm going for. Do they have color name books like they do baby name books?

I also made lemon squares. Mmmm ... a little taste of sunshine!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Further Signs of Spring

We took a walk down to Rheinaue Park and were fortunate to come across a baseball game. The Bonn Capitals were playing on two fields. One was a metal bat game (Arlo says he could blow them away) and the game we sat and watched was played with wooden bats. We picked up a schedule and it seems the season doesn't start until April so this must have been some sort of pre-season (Spring Training?) game. It only went 7 innings but this may have been due to it not being a regular season game.

It was quite an interesting mix of German and English. Instead of "good eye, good eye" after a batter waits through a "ball," the team would shout "gut gesehen!" But when telling a teammate that he needs to slide, the team would shout "get dirty!" or "get down!"

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cherry Blossoms

First come the cherry blossoms. Then there is a green haze to the chestnut trees as their spring leaves come into bud. The puffed out boy pigeons are all trying to impress the ladies. Soon it will be full blown spring here. I find myself wanting to wear dresses and open-toed shoes but we're not quite ready for that. I satisfied myself instead with buying some sort of fruit tree branch that will hopefully bloom in my house and some daffodils that will open overnight. I was excited to find the daffodils for a Euro for a bunch of 10 unopened stems. It was just like shopping at Trader Joe's.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The New View out my Window

Earlier this week, we decoded a message left by out landlord saying that our roof would be worked on and the outside of the building would be painted. Somehow, I was still surprised when men with scaffolding showed up on Wednesday. Now they've gotten past our windows. I was worried that the scaffolding would block the waxing Spring sunshine ... but this does not seem to be the case.

It is disconcerting to see people standing outside our 4th floor (3rd floor European) apartment.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Isn't My Bed Beautiful?

I have a bit of a cold today. This is my first bit of any sickness since we arrived in Germany and it isn't that bad. But it is making me miss my bed. I really want a nap but I don't like our bed in our apartment (an our couch is not long enough to lay down on). I want MY bed ... the one my husband made for me. Preferably, I would like to have a cat or two on it as well.

Okay, that is all for my whine. I am loving our experience here and we do have a very nice apartment. I am such a home body and I've worked hard to surround myself with things that have meaning to me. So it makes me grumpy every now and then to not have MY things.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Baby Quilt

I just found out that another friend of mine is expecting a baby soon. So I've started on another baby blanket. Look closely, what do you see?

Monday, March 10, 2008

The IRS Thinks We Are Transients

I can't figure out where my tax home is let alone where I want it to be. According to one publication our tax home is not in Germany because we came here for work that is temporary in nature (i.e. at the onset we expected it to be completed in one year or less). It turns out that temporary or indefinite are all a state of mind. If you think that you are going to be in a foreign country for less than a year but you end up staying longer ... you're temporary until you realize that you are staying past the 12 month mark. If you think that you are going to be in a foreign country for more than a year but you end up returning to the U.S. before the year is up then you are indefinite (and your tax home is abroad) until you realize that you will be going back to the U.S. early (at which time you will be temporary). Your status actually changes. You can have a tax home in Germany for 8 months (thinking you will be there for 2 years) and then in the 9th month you find out that you will be leaving in month 11. For the last two months you now have a tax home in the U.S.

Okay ... by this publication we clearly have our tax home in the U.S. But we have no home in the U.S., nor do we do any business in the U.S. so according to another publication ... out tax home is NOT in the U.S. Where is it?

There is actually a formal definition of itinerant worker (the publication clarifies this means transient) but we don't quite meet that definition either.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Baths in Germany Have a Long Tradition

A few weeks ago, we went to Trier, a city established in the first century by the Romans after they conquered the Treveri. The picture above is of the ruins of the roman baths in Trier. This weekend, we went to the modern equivalent: Aqua Land

One area had about 20 different saunas plus 4 hot/cold tubs and various showers. My favorite (to view, not to use) was the cold shower that filled a bucket with a string which you then pulled to dump water over your head ... for those that like their cold shock the old fashioned way. As the pictures above show, there was also a series of interconnected swimming pools and hot tubs under a huge atrium. They had a couple of slides as well. There were grottos where you could lay on warm rocks or on sea salt. The sauna area is "textilefrei" but people wear swimming suits in the main pool area.

I was really nervous about going, but I don't know why. I have been to clothing optional hot springs (namely Harbin Hot Springs in California) but somehow not speaking the language and not knowing the protocol was really scary for me. It was better that we went with people who had been before and that could speak German and I was of course fine once we got there.

I tried a couple of saunas but I am just not a person who enjoys being hot. I definitely do not like to sweat. I do really like sitting in warm/hot water though. One of the hot tubs in the sauna area is filled with salt water. It is outdoors and only heated to about 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit (below body temperature anyway) so it was a bit cold ... maybe in the summer.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Hair Cut!

I woke up this morning and decided I wanted my hair lopped off. So my kind, brave husband, that CAN see in a straight line, cut it for me. I've never been particularly fond of going to the hair salon ... strange, I know. I'm really not good with idle chit chat but it always seems awkward to just sit there. I never really know what I want done with my hair and I always hate how it looks as I leave the salon. None of these make for an experience that I want to repeat very often. Every now and then (once a year or so) I decide that this is the time that is going to be like a make-over show. I will go into the salon and say "Make me beautiful" and out I will come, a swan with a glorious hair cut. The last time I did this, the stylist poked me in the eye with the scissors. (I mean literally, my contact lens came out of my eye.) Arlo thinks that as girly as I am, I should like going to a hair salon to primp (or whatever it is that girls do) every 6 weeks or so like other women. Maybe I'll become a grown up one of these days and become a regular at a salon. I'm sure that would help keep my expectations reasonable and probably give the stylist a fighting chance at helping me choose a style that I like.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Punk Sheep

Since sheep are grazing animals that tend to wander, ranchers need to mark the sheep in some way so that they can be differentiated easily (from a neighbors herd or even within their own herd). Thus the spraypainted blobs on the sheep. This one has a lot going on. You can see the blue behind her head and the pink on her butt. I seem to recall that she had a few other blotches as well that didn't show up well in the picture.

Some days I think it would be fun to have my own sheep for wool production (feed the habit) and I really want chickens. But then I think I must be crazy to want farm animals. Who am I and what did I do with the real me. I don't know ... the more I hear about self sufficiency and eating local produce and shopping from hand-made, home grown businesses the more it sets off my day dreams. I guess we'll just see where life takes me.