- Expats Again
- Munich, Germany
- I am married to the love of my life and am finally able to shower him with all of the attention he deserves. I am now retired and living the life here in Europe. I am an American, he is an Australian, and this is our second overseas address. The first was Shanghai, China and now Munich, Germany. Come along and live the life with us as we continue our adventure of discovering all Europe has to offer.
Subscribe Now: Feed Icon
Monday, August 31, 2009
Weather Underground forecasts the hurricane to hit ground in the Baja peninsula on Thursday of this week. Viewing the map at the right, Jimenas' path will pass right through Los Cabos which is located at the southern most tip of the peninsula.
I have never been in a hurricane, nor have I seen the devastation that remains after a hurricane has hit. I will be watching its' progress for the next few days to see if it looks imminent. The resort will probably have updates for us as well.
Looks like my husband will get his wish! "BIG SURF!"
Image via Wikipedia
For days now we have been shooing off a frequent visitor, a black kitten. She has made herself quite at home in our attached screened-in porch off of the dining room. She purrs and licks the glass on the sliding glass window seeking someone to pay attention to her and let her in the house. When that doesn't work, she begins to claw at the glass and purr some more. She has found out how to sit atop of the lounge in the porch and peek inside of my kitchen window that is above my sink. Here she pleads for me to allow her entrance.
I made the mistake after ignoring her for two consecutive days, of putting out milk for her to drink. BIG MISTAKE! Now, she won't leave. She is adorable, but I can't take a pet back to Germany and besides, my husband is allergic to their dander. Still, in spite of being ignored, tossed off the deck, and starved, she keeps coming back.
I fear there will be a trip to the humane society tomorrow if she returns.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Sadly, it was our turn to have a family tragedy and fortunately, for my husband and I, we were both back to the states for our first visit since moving to Munich.
Tuesday morning, around 1:00 am, I was awoke by my son to learn that his wife, my daughter-in-law, just got a call that her sisters' daughter, 16, was killed in a car crash. I rushed to my daughter-in-law's side and stayed with her until I was sure she was stable and able to sleep. I stayed awake for hours, and I know she did too. My son left to go to her sisters. Tragically, she had just lost her husband only months before.
We were not aware of it at the time, but her daughter had been despondent over her father's death and according to a newspaper report, unconfirmed, she left a note saying she wanted to be with him. However, she drove on the wrong side of the interstate into an oncoming semi and died instantly.
Today was the funeral.
My heart goes out to my daughter-in-law, her sister and her two remaining children, their parents and siblings. Words fail me at this time. It is unnatural for a parent to outlive their children. I cannot imagine the sheer enormousity of this for my daughter-in-laws' family. Other than be here for comfort and offer to babysit my grandchildren, I know of nothing else that will suffice to bring them peace. I pray that our Lord and Savior will be able to strengthen them at this most challenging time. May they be blessed with His presence and may He bring them the care and guidance they need. May God bless this family.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Image via Wikipedia
For example, when the twins were very active and very small, they would race around the house. It was at times like these that she would yell, "Do you two always have to go racing around the house like mad-ass ducks?" For years we kids wondered what a "mad-ass duck" looked like
The one phrase that I hated was, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." To a teenager this meant one of two things:
- You are hanging out with your friends too much and I need you here to help with the chores.
- That boyfriend of yours is bad news, get rid of him.
It wasn't until the 19th century that the phrase began to be used more widely, with Thomas Haynes Bayly's (1797-1839) song Isle of Beauty, published posthumously in 1850:
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder, Isle of Beauty, Fare thee well!"
I hated that saying and I just knew that whenever she spoke it, something bad was to follow. How could staying away from a person you like to be around be a good thing? How could you be around them too much? Would being around them too often make them not want to be with you anymore? It was all too confusing and all too elusive for a young girl to conceive.
Through the years I have experienced the wisdom of this common saying, but not in the way that my mother had intended. When applied to a place, rather than a person, it becomes unbelievably clear to me. When I am in Munich, I so much want to be back home in the states. Now that I'm here in the states, I really want to return to Munich. It's such a contradiction!
What is it about not being somewhere that makes you long for it even when you're perfectly content where you are? I am so longing for the German simplicity of life. All I had to do there was decide was what time I wanted to exercise, go to town to do shopping, get a manicure or pedicure, work on my German, see friends, or play. Yet, when I was in Germany and doing these very things, I longed to be back in Ohio where I could see my dear friends, visit my beautiful grandchildren, visit our extended family, and catch up with some unfinished business back in the states.
Now, I absolutely know that I won't be back in Munich for less than 24 hours and I'll be wishing I was right back here...... where all of my loved ones are. But, I have to be truthful, with Germany comes a lot of "me" time and "us" time that equally fulfills me and strengthens our marriage.
I now believe that absence does make the heart grow fonder.... I do miss Munich.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Image by johnb/uk via Flickr
My sister, Vicki, is here to visit me while I'm home from Germany for a few weeks. She lives in Florida and I live in Ohio. We are five years apart (me being senior to her). But, for all intents and purposes, we are as close as two women can be. Our mother passed away about ten years ago, so there is just us two girls in the Smith family. She has a twin brother who lives in Florida also, but for years now, us girls have looked to one another while being married, raising our children, surviving divorce and remarriage, and working on our careers.
We don't have much time together this trip. Only three days. Vicki has two girls and a boy. I have two boys, no daughters. It is nice to have another woman in the family to confide in when you need an ear to listen. Her two daughters have grown into women and now we have expanded to five girls in our family. Actually, considering the fact that she has one grand daughter and I have two, I guess you could say we have multiplied the girl factor now to 9 of us. If we include my two daughter-in-law, it brings the female population of our family to a respectable 11! I am so thrilled about the
fact that the girls reign strong in the family now. For so long, it was just the two of us and my
Vicki and I are opposites. She is gregarious, wears a lot of bling, and is a real p
Image via Wikipediaeople person. I, on the other hand, am more reserved, much more conservative when it comes to fashion , and love my alone time. Yet, when I think of who it is that I want to be with as much as my husband and family, it is my sister. We have shared so much throughout the years in spite of the fact that we have mostly lived a great distance from one another. She is the one I would most like to travel with, other than my hubby, and the one I would trust to give me solid advice if I should need it. She looks after my back, as it were, a
nd I look after hers.
We don't have to talk on the phone daily, weekly, or even monthly. We both know that we are just a phone call away. We don't always agree on everything. In fact, being the older sister, I usually end up giving her far more advice than she ever wanted or needs. We have a great time laughing, hanging out together, and just being sisters to one another. We love to shop, sunbathe, watch movies, bake, and have cocktails together. One of the most favorite things we like to do is wake up in our pj's, have a cup of coffee or tea together, and just while away the morning hours chatting. I don't think we could
Image via Wikipediaever get tired of it and the hours just slip on by.
I don't know what life would be like without my sister. She is an extension of me. She has always been there for me and I have been there for her. We share the family history and so much goes unsaid and yet we both nod together knowing what the other one is thinking. I know I take it for granted that she will always be here for me and yet, as we age, it is clear that this might not always be so. I have made a promise to myself to spend more time visiting with my sis when I get back to the states. I really need to take advantage of the fact that I am in the same continent and make seeing her a priority. Life would just not be the same without her. I love you sis!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
These girls invited us to share their holidays with them in their home in China while our family was celebrating back in the states. We golfed together, played mah jong together, went to spas, had facials, shopped (boy, did we shop), and lunched together. We took trips to Guilin, the Silk Road, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Viet Nam. We could as easily have told you how to barter at the local markets as told you what a string of pearls from Lilys should cost or how much to pay for jewelry from Chesters. Jewelry was our specialty, much to the chagrin of our hard working husbands.
Amazingly, our guys would laugh and jest that they slaved while we spent. It was a magical time, in a budding city that never slept. Our years together were chock-a-block with activities. Together, we hardly left a store unshopped in the whole of Pearl City or all of Hui Hai Lu. Passionate about exploring all of our new environs, we set out to discover all our Asian hosts had to offer.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Image by Toban Black via FlickrI just read an article in the International Jerusalem Post entitled, "Managing anti-Semitism in Germany," written by Henryk M. Broder a leading commentator and writer for Der Spiegle and Benjamin Weinthal, The Jerusalem Post correspondent in Germany. In the article, largely disparaging, the writers summarized their points with these three short-term remedies:
- "Academics, journalists, NGOs and politicians should attach a human face to modern anti-Semitism (anti-Israelism)."
- "The myth that the accusation of anti-Semitism is as lethal as anti-Semitism itself ought to be dismissed for the nonsense that it is."
- "And insulating oneself against the charge of anti-Semitism by employing hard-core anti-Zionist Jews should be recognized as a mixture of cowardice and anti-Semitism.
They went further to say that, "Wallowing in meaningless resolutions and a fluffy anti-Semitism parliamentary commision represents the path of least resistance; it means managing anti-Semitism instead of confronting it when it comes disguised as criticism of Israel."
A call to more activism by critics of Germanys' battle against this disease is the
Image via Wikipediaplea by these
Image by afagen via Flickrwriters. As the United States deals with similar issues while a new president prepares to put his own stamp on U.S./Israeli issues, it will be interesting to see if we can come to a common understanding of this complex issue.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Image via Wikipedia
One problem I am facing while living in Germany is not knowing if a special sale or bargain is being advertised since I don't speak or read German, yet. So, although there may be a sale or a discount, I would have a difficult time recognizing it.
According to my constant companion, LEO (the English to German online translator), here are some German words that apparently mean "on sale:
Image by striatic via Flickr
Kauf und Verkauf
Exactly how they differ with respect to connotation, I'm not quite sure, but they are words that I should remember so that I might take advantage of any savings while shopping. I'm not aware if the German retail market offers coupons or savings incentives as the American retail market does, but I intend to learn.
This week, back in the states, I was presented with a free oil change from our Honda dealership when I took my CRV into the service repair shop and received the third punch on my key card. That was at least a savings of $29.99! Also this week, when I called Seagate Technologies to order a power cord for my external hard drive that was lost in our move to Munich, I was told it would be sent to me free of charge. Probably at least another $10 saved. Last week I took the kids to see the movie Aliens in the Attic and before it finished, there was a brown out. Guess what? We were given three free tickets to the theater to see another movie! I'm guessing the tickets were easily $30 in total. (I still don't know if the aliens or the humans prevailed, however...).
Here in the states we enjoy free refills on soda, free fresh produce from our church praise garden, and the same Honda service center offered me a free car wash after the free oil change. Do these things happen in Germany? Hard for me to tell.
After five months of living in Munich, if there are bargains to be had, I'm not yet aware of them. Comparison shop? At the moment I'm using my i-phone camera to record the prices at various shops in the hopes of finding out where I might make the most educated purchase. Short of that, I'm at a loss.
It's a learning curve, that's for sure. I'm not saying I'm the queen of 30%, but I would like to have the advantage of getting the same savings offered to me as the next customer. However, without knowledge of the language, I'm really at the shop keepers' mercy.
Another phenomena is that some of the retail clerks just assume that I'm an American tourist and I won't ever return to their place of business. I know this because I have heard them say to me,"Thank you, and I hope you enjoy your visit to Munich," after ringing up my purchase. This assumption might also prevent them from presenting me with information about specials, sales, or future bargains.
Shortly after I arrived in Munich, my husband and I approached a produce vendor about purchasing white asparagus and I learned something else about being a foreigner. At the produce stand, I reached out to select what I determined to be the freshest asparagus spears, but the clerk swiped my hand away and indicated that she was responsible for selecting the vegetable for me. I watched as she chose the less fresh, older spears. Unable to communicate with her, I just shook my head and wondered if she thought that my being an American meant I didn't recognize fresh produce? I'll never know.
The good news is that being uninformed as a result of a language barrier is easily remedied. Just one more reason to learn German!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Image via WikipediaBeing recently retired, I have heaps of time to devote to my "passion." I'm passionate about travel and I've managed to visit many countries over the past ten years. I've graduated from enjoying large cities to wanting to experience more remote locations. I've moved from the tried and true tourist spots to digging deeper and finding hidden gems; places that only the locals know about. We have been so far off the beaten track that we have never wanted to return to it. The deeper one goes, the greater the experience, we believe. It isn't necessary to travel great distances to find locations such as these. But it does require, to some degree, going where others fear to go. Taking the longer way, the way less traveled. As Robert Frost said, "And that has made all the difference."
I would say that along with travel is sport. I'm particularly
passionate about golf. If I had my way, we would be sitting pretty on on
Image by lotusutol via Flickre of the countries' premeire golf courses and spending our days chasing that elusive perfect score. But, back to reality. My husband has introduced me to biking, and although I'm still struggling with the finer aspects of manuevering the darn thing, I have to acknowledge that it has taken me places that I never would have seen had I not been on the seat of a bike. (And the bottom of the lake does not count!)
One of my new passions is drawing great chuckl es and jokes from my two sons--crocheting and knitting. They somehow find the idea of their mother becoming crafty just too grandmotherly and are trying to shame me out of continuing. Too late, I'm hooked. (no pun intended).
Having a degree in Art is no guarantee that you'll be an artist, but now that the kids are grown, I'm retired, and money for supplies is not an object, I've begun to dabble in oils, watercolors, and sketching. My real passion has always been clay sculpture. So, I foresee a studio in my near future and a kiln to fire the objects that I'm working in my head and sketching at the moment. I'm also planning to invest in a potters' wheel for throwing bowls, cups, plates, and any other kind of vase or pot that strikes my fancy.
Being in Europe has opened a whole new opportunity for my creative juices. I see promise in following the culinary arts of some of the countries we've visited. I've already perfected the sopska salad we so enjoyed in Bulgaria, to my amazement. I'm anxious to join the e
Image by Bobcatnorth via Flickr
xpats in the German Cooking Challenge and give my hand at some of the interesting recipes posted each month. Then, I'm keen to try cake decorating and I'll be inquiring at the local community center for lessons in this skill.
Lets see, there is skiing, alpine walking, yoga, pilates, and cross country skiing. There is German Language lessons, book club, and theater. I could go on and on and that is the problem. Where does one find the time to follow every passion? While I'm going to try them all, I'm sure that some will strike my fancy more than others. But what a wonderful time in your life to try all that you've been wanting to try! I have to tell you, I am loving life!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Image by Juergen Kurlvink via Flickr
Now, I ask you, could any mother want anything more for their child? I watch as my sons look to their wives with admiration as she comes into a room. It is exhilarating! The girls and I give each other a wink. We know how much we are all loved by the men in our family and I can tell you that the feeling is mutual. Thank you girls. I love you both very much!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Cascading lights, faux finishes, exposed brick walls, sleek countertops, window seating, and funky, sassy, prints. Functional, fun, and hot. The adjectives just keep coming. I'm addicted to HGTV.
During my visit back home I've become glued to Design on a Dime, Designers' Challenge, Color Splash, My First Place, Property Virgins, Spice Up My Kitchen, and Deserving Design, to name a few. Vern Yip and Candace Olsen are now my idols.
From ceiling to floor, makeovers are stealing my time and causing me to lose my beauty sleep. Will it be Art Deco, Country, French Country, Contemporary, Asian, or Victorian? What will the fixtures look like? Brushed nickle, bamboo, wrought iron, or plexiglas? Will they be purchased from a high end retailer, a thrift store, or online? What will the color scheme be? Sage green and cream or butterscotch and cranberry?
Image via Wikipedia
I have learned how to wire recessed lights, attach beadboard, hang dry wall, apply mortar, and install light dimmers. I could upolster an end table, a chair, and even a coffee table. Power tools have become less threatening and more friendly. Wall graphics can do amazing things for a room, lending ambiance and sophistication.
Accessories are in a league of their own. You can personalize a room with the proper accessories. Remodeling needs the final touches and finials, chandeliers, candelabras, and area rugs are all accessories that tie the design together.
I haven't found a German HGTV yet and in a way, I hope I don't. I would never leave the living room. Interior design is a passion of mine and viewing spaces being changed is totally addictive. I'd rather wait until I get back to the U.S. to watch these shows. That way I won't be spending thousands at Toom.
Image by nadja.robot via Flickr
Image via Wikipedia
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
My heart goes out to all of the victims in this senseless massacre. It is a repeat of the Virginia Tech shooting in April of 2007. The perpetrator of this crime was a 23-yer-old student named Seung-Hui Cho. Cho was diagnosed with severe depression and a social anxiety disorder.
What is similar with both of these men, and in the case of the two young men who took the lives of 12 students and a teacher in the Columbine School shooting, is anti-social behavior and depression. In all of the cases they lacked control over their emotions and the ability to adjust to society and be accepted by their peers. Their final act of control over an otherwise uncontrollable life was to take the lives of others before taking their own lives.
I hope we can learn more from these disastrous events and that we can perhaps profile the type of individuals who might perform such a heinous act. In every case there is a history of trouble and a paper trail of previous early warning signs. Death threats on websites and blogs that reveal highly disturbed individuals are huge red flags and should be taken seriously. Authorities need to address these people and seek professional treatment for them and follow-up before they become deadly. By now, there has to be a checklist of criteria for identifying these criminals. It is difficult to read about innocent lives being taken by people who have clearly demonstrated the hallmarks of a mass murderer. I pray that schools, parents, law enforcement, therapists, counselors, and pastors, etc. begin to report anyone who displays these behaviors before it is too late.
Again, my prayers go out to the families of all who died or were injured.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Steve, my husband, is standing at our table in front of a tree with a sign posted on it. The sign is common in most of Munich's beer gardens. It says that per government ruling, the people of Bavaria are free to bring their own food to the beer garden, but any beer on the premises must be purchased from the vendor. I love this about Bavaria. No one is excluded from enjoying the lovely shaded garden.
The customs that are practiced in order to run an orderly beer garden are interesting in themselves.
The first step is to pick out your beer stein from the thousands of glasses provided in shelves.
Next, the idea is to take your glass stein and rinse it out in a sink of clean running water in large stainless steel sinks.
The menu consists of sausages, rotiserie chicken, assorted salads, pomme frittes, and soft pretzels.
And, of course, there is plenty of beer!
If you should wander a short ways from the beer garden you will have a special treat. These deer make the Hirschgarten their home.