EXPATS AGAIN! Experiencing other cultures while enriching our global view.



My photo
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

Friday, October 30, 2009


My memory is seriously being compromised and the only consolation is that one day I'll be able to hide my own Easter eggs! 

I understand that this is one of lifes' little hardships that are common to all of us who reach a particular golden age. But the knowledge that misery loves company doesn't assure me--not this time. 

 Now a days, the i-phone has literally become the little white string that generations before us tied around their fingers in order to remind themselves of a task that they didn't want to forget. 

My i-phone goes off all day long alerting me of things on my "To Do" list.  I can put it on my i-phone calendar, set an alarm, and even write notes about it right in the phone.  But the reality is, I find myself going back and replaying these messages many times over. 

It's like my brain has become a sieve...as soon as it registers, it's gone. Is this normal? 

The hardest part of this process is that although I've regarded myself as a highly organized individual, unless I know where I've organized it, it hardly matters. I spend the better part of a day searching for where I organized something--is it in the i-phone, in the computer, in the desk drawer, in the bookshelf, on our kitchen counter....it's an endless stream of organizational madness. 

For a while, I thought it was due to the fact we relocated in Germany and I hadn't yet gotten used to where to store things.  But, now, six months later, I can no longer deny it--I am memory challenged.

Before such high tech devices, while I was an educator, I used ball point pen on my palm to write notes to myself.  I later joked that it was my palm pilot.

I am realizing that with my palm pilot at least I knew where to go to retrieve information.  Perhaps I should return to my "Old School" remedy?

writing on your palm

Image by bignoseduglyguy via Flickr

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Things to Ponder

The photos here will stretch your imagination.  Enjoy!

Why would any parent approve of this?

Lending a helping hand....

Extending an open hand.....

Unable to leap tall buildings....

Just not right!

Ponder this!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Feeling More Like Home

EMU 481 of the Berlin S-Bahn in Griebnitzsee s...Image via Wikipedia

It's been exactly six months since I arrived in Munich and I can now wholeheartedly report that Munich is  in my blood.  Let me explain.

Yesterday, I took the day to wander about my newly adopted city when I realized that the S-Bahn (train system) no longer confused me. I also took the U-Bahn (underground subway system) to transfer to another part of the city and was equally adept.  When did this happen?  Blending in with the crowd, using the ubiquitous novel or ipod as my travel companion --yep, an ordinary routine.  I've become aware that sporting the European neck scarf; something I would have abhorred  ignored back in the states, is quite natural here in Bavaria.  This acculturation thing -- so subtle--how and when did I assimilate?


Karstadt store in Görlitz, Germany : dome in J...Although my language training has yet to formulate, my pseudo Deutsch appears to be doing the trick.  I not only was able to make a purchase at Karstadt, but was given a step-by-step instructonal training on how to use the product.  From there I learned that the clerk was from Holland and we were even able to share a few laughs!  Sure, I know this is an everyday occurrence for American shoppers in the states, but what amazed me was that I didn't  have to resort to my old bag of tricks--pantomine, not once!  This spelled success.  Whew!  No more walking out of a store empty handed grumbling about how much easier it would be to live here if all Germans spoke perfect English (sarcasm implied here--I'm not that ignorant Yank stereotype all of the expat community keeps ragging about :-).  Lamentedly, I'm just her snarly sister on a past few occassions.  Shopping excursions can only get better, I reckon.

I was so successful navigating about that I cycled to my fitness center, completed my workout, relished in the sauna (sans towel like the Germans do--abandoning my ultra Puritan American upbringing--Egads!) and made it to Karls-Platz using the S and U-Bahns with accuracy to see my doctor.  She speaks good English and hooked me up with an OBGYN in her same building.  I took the elevator down two floors and, Voila!  I scored an appointment with the office assistant on the first go.  Remarkable!  It gets better folks!

Thank You my dear Flickr friendsMy newest obsession, knittting and crocheting, has taken on a new dimension.  Let's just say that having been modestly successful in creating a few hats and scarves, I'm ready to step it up a bit and challenge myself with a more advanced project.  Pasing-Obermenzing, where we live in Munich, has a lovely little Italian yarn shop run by a German woman whom I've had the distinct  forboding pleasure of attempting to communicate.  Here is where the magic begins.  Turns out, the lady really could speak English, WTH?   I have been in her store a half a dozen times doing my pantomine schtick and here all along she was just amusing herself watching me go through every conceivable charade I could imagine!  The revelation that we could banter with one another overcame me and the horses were let out of the gate, so to speak.  Yada, yada, yada, and the next thing I knew I had signed up for a course in Schwabing at her second shop in kniting--something I could only dream of doing that easily months before.  Then it dawned on me!  She has come to know me and know that I'm here to stay and I will continue to frequent her shop.  Imagine!  I'm a repeat customer and no longer a stranger in a strange land!  Vielen Dank!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, October 26, 2009

Varenna, on the eastern shore of Lake Como.Image via Wikipedia
At times it's hard to realize that much of Europe's beauty lies right within our grasp.  We have to look no further than a bike trail to take us to nature's bounty.  It is exceedingly hard to realize that lakes, mountain  ranges, and rivers that I used to dream of visiting are now situated so close to us.  The list of places we want to see keep growing with every new venture.   

Sunday we took the long way back to Munich by driving through Italy's San Bernadino's mountain pass.  It was quite an experience breathing the cool Alpine air as we serpentined our way up the majectic mountains to the zenith.

Before we began our ascent, we took time out at Lake Como to enjoy the scenery and have a great cup of Italian coffee.  They sure know how to do coffee!  Here's Steve standing at the side of the lake waiting on his cuppa.

Here's a gentelman reading his morning newspaper at the side of Lake Como.  Now I could get used to that.

The lake is a small jewel surrounded by the Italian Alps.  Life takes on a different cadence and the Italians, used to the sunshine and fresh mountain air, enjoy life with a vigour seldom seen in the big city.

Further along in our drive we came to this valley with a road snaking through it with farms, shepherds, rivers,and livestock peppering the pastoral vista.

There were horses, sheep, donkeys, and cows grazing in placid pastures absolutely oblivious of the tourists approaching.

With each twist and turn of the road, we saw forests, valleys, lakes, and fresh Alpine mountain streams. 

This has been our second visit to the Alps in six months and we were just as awe struck this time as the last.  Our plan is to visit again very soon as ski season is quickly approaching.  Skiing is a sport that is new to both of us, but we are determined to give it a go.  It would seem a waste not to enjoy the mountains while we live so close.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


There aren't too many edifices that I find so awe inspiring that I would want to spend hours there just bathing in its' beauty and ambiance, but I have to say that the Duomo, in Milan, has to rank right up there.  Unless you've seen it in person, no photo can do it justice.  Every square foot of the facade is covered in intricate sculpted Gothic bas reliefs.  This cathedral was built in 1386, but it took generations to complete.  The main spire was topped in 1762 and the rest of the Duomo was completed in the 1800's.  Second to the Vatican, it is known as one of the largest cathedrals in all of Europe.

Above is one of the many sculptures in the Duomo.  I really liked it because it wasn't the usual beautiful angel or cherub, but a sculpture of an imperfect human being. 

Here is a photo of the outside of the Duomo.  As you can see, it is just as decorative as the inside.  I could have spent weeks viewing this masterpiece and never have seen it all. 

Outside the Dumo is the the center of the Piazza del Duomo that leads to the main shopping concourse located in the Duomo arcade.  Here you can get Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, or any other designer product.  Happy shopping!

Here is an alcove in the Duomo with stained glass windows, gothic columns, precepts, and Roman arches.

An altar inside of the Duomo made of marble.  I lost count of the number of altars inside.

A pathway of Gothic columns seemingly reaching to the sky.

One of many beautifully crafted reliefs.

I took this photo under the archway of the front door.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


 It seems that Venice doesn't hold a monopoly on beautiful canals, Milan has it's own.  The Naviglio Grande in Milan, Italy is pictured on the right.  It is one of the things I plan to do this week while accompanying my husband on a business trip to Milan.  He has to work and I get to play!  How fair is that?  Most of what I know about Milan is that it is the fashion capital of the world.  Window shopping is a favorite hobby of mine and I can't think of a better place to do it than Milan.  I won't be re-mortgaging the homestead, so don't expect to view any of my purchases in a future blog.  Suffice it to say, I will be satisfied with viewing only.

One thing I plan on doing is spinning on the bulls balls.  Here is how it's done!


This is supposed to bring good luck.  WE shall see, :-)

Finally, I want to go to the top of the Duomo and view Milano.  Check out THOSE flying buttresses!

View from the Duomo (Cathedral) in Milan (Italy).CIAO!

Image via Wikipedia

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, October 19, 2009


Swine Flu H1N1 virus influenza 3.0Image by hitthatswitch via Flickr
Ah la ma!  United States citizens do not have exclusive rights to  ire due to governmental injustice.

Case in point, today the newspaper, Der Speigle,  reported that the general population here in Germany will be offered the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine, Pandermrix, for swine flu. Sounds great, doesn't it?  But how would you feel if you were offered this vaccine containing a booster element, or adjuvant, and  a preservative with mercury and Chancellor Angela Merkel, her cabinet members and ministry civil servants, as well as those working for other agencies, are being offered Celvapan, produced by US firm Baxter, which does not contain the adjuvant nor the  preservative?

A HA!  Therein lies the problem.  Entitlement is roaring it's ugly head in my fair adopted country, just like it does back  home. 

The article explains that the adjuvant may lead to a stronger reaction in the patient, which they explained means it probably contains less of the virus, yet will still get the necessary reaction.  However, some say it is an additional risk.   The Celvapan doesn't have the adjuvant or preservative.  This is the one being given to the armed forces and is available to pregnant women and children.  WHAT?? If it isn't safe for them, why the heck are they offering it to poor slobs anyone else is my question. 

Here comes the "kicker."  The Paul Ehrlich Institute, which took the decision to order the new vaccine from GlaxoSmit Kline for the rest of the country, will get the new vaccine along with the state servants.  Now if that doesn't smack of injustice!
Well, there is one voice of sanity in this obscene scandal and that is coming from the Chairman of the German Medical Association's Drug Commission, Wolf-Dieter Ludwig.  He said, "The health authorities have succumbed to a campaign by the pharma companies, which simply want to earn money from a supposed threat."  Do ya think, Mr. Ludwig?? 

The president of the Association of Paediatricians said chldren under the age of three should not be given the shots. Just what is this country thinking? I'm no doctor, yet even I know that innoculations containing mercury preservatives have been banned for decades.  How can they play Russian Roulet like this with innocent lives?

 "The vaccine has not been tested on them," he said.  "The children's immune systems tend to overreact, which could be exacerbated by the adjuvants."  He also strongly attacked the use of mercury-containing preservatives, Der Speigle reported.

What a can of worms!

A Can of WormsImage by psd via Flickr

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Sunday, October 18, 2009


literally, close up knitting and crochet.Image by dead redhead via Flickr
There is certainly a part of my personality that is obsessive compulsive.  For example, when I golf, which I love, and golf badly, which I do all too often, I am driven to go back out on the course and repeat the holes that eluded me.  If you've ever seen the movie "Tin Cup," you get the picture.  It's not about the score--it's about achieving perfection.
Don't tell me I can't do something--I will surely prove you wrong. 

So, it should be of no surprise to those who know me well that when my mother-in-law told me this past summer that I will never be a knitter, I set out to prove her wrong.  Well, let's just say that the drive to do so has set me on a mission.  I'm not there yet.  There are far too many other things to do here in Munich than to sit and knit.  But, I have taught myself, thank you. And I can report that I'm doing very well.  Granted, I haven't tackled anything too advanced   complex  yet, but I can knit and purl with the best of them!   

Here are some of the items I've knitted or crocheted.  There are more, but they are meant for Christmas gifts to family,  and until they receive them, they are underwraps, so to speak.

This is a hat that I knitted for myself and I LOVE it!  I am so happy with it and how it fits me.  It keeps my ears warm in the cool weather and yet it is great to cover unruly hair.  I love to wear it on my walks.

 This lovely piece is a scarf I knitted from yarn and circular needles that a new friend in Los Cabos gave me.  I absolutely love it and it gave me experience using many different types of fancy yarns.  It is so lovely and I have had  so many compliments wearing it, that  I'm ordering two more skeins of this yarn so I can give knit some more prezzies from it.

I knitted this hat and scarf set for my five-year-old granddaughter, Lil' Miss Nee Nee,  and she was so thrilled with it she wanted to wear it in August when I completed it.  I hear the weather in Ohio is getting chillier, so perhaps she will finally get a chance to wear it.

I also knitted the hat below for her.  It is a bit more casual and she can wear it with a play outfit.  It turned out a lot better than I thought!

Finally, for my dear daughter-in-law's birthday, I gave her a slouchy hat. (Well, I also took her to lunch and gave her a bottle of  Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb Perfume--I may be obsessive, but I'm not cheap!)

I didn't know how she would like the slouchy hat since it isn't a hat that hugs your head.  She is blessed with beautiful long tresses and when she put it on she exclaimed, "It's so warm!  There's enough room to tuck my hair in!"  That's all I needed to hear!  She is a busy mom of three children, twins who are 5 and a six year old.  She needs something practical, warm, and yet  colorful.  I'm glad she likes it and her matching scarf will
accompany me back to the states in December. 

I think my family will be awash in socks, sweaters, vests, afghans, hats, scarves, and whatever else I can manage to knit or crochet.  I'll be darned if I'll prove my mother-in-law right. Just watch me!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]



Vincent Van Gogh (1854 1890)

Tonight was the Lange Nicht der Museen, The Long Night of the Museums, in Munich. All 80 of the city's prestigious international museums were open to the public until 2 am! We spent the evening walking from one museum to another in our quest to enjoy all the evening had to offer. Great museums of international stature were awash in splendid outdoor lighting identifying themselves as open for business. It was a true artistic and cultural event. There were exhibitions, performances, tours, and live music. 2009-02-15 München 191 Neue Pinakothek, Vincen...

My favorite museum was the Neue Pinakothek, one of Munich's newest and most reknowned museums. European art throughout the centuries are displayed in a total of 22 galeries. Munch, Klimt, Monet, Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, Manet, Van Gogh and Gauguin were some of the artists' work that was exhibited. Some of these paintings, I have only seen in art books --never in person! Having a degree in Art, I was reeling with pleasure at finally being able to see paintings such as "Sunflowers", by Van Gogh and "A Woman Ironing," by Degas.

Francisco de Goya Plucked Turkey (1810).

Glyptothek in Munich, Germany. The Glyptothek ...

Aside from the Impressionists, I saw Albrecht Durer's famous "Self Portait" of 1500 and many other famous paintings in this superb and extensive collection which includes paintings from the Middle Ages through the end of the Rococo era and well into the 20th century and contemporary times. MUNICH, GERMANY - OCTOBER 11:  Ai Weiwei, one ...

At the Haus der Kunst we experienced a completely different art exhibition by an artist named Ai Weiwei, from China. His art focuses on political debate in China and internationally. He believes that there is a new polictical culture "whereby failure is excused following an apology, which he sees as an avoidance of responsibility by politicians." (The Art Newspaper). He has made his views public and has disseminated his views on a blog that reaches 10,000 people a day and is regularly closed down. His largest installation is in the front facade of the building. He used 9,000 colored backpacks representing the thousands of children who dies in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. This exhibition was much different than the Neue Pinakothek in every way imaginable, but equally rewarding.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]