Friday, November 25, 2005

Will the turkey be unbroken

In case you missed it, that's a Johnny Cash reference (didn't they sing 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken?'). I am dying to see that movie, please see it in the theatre twelve times so that it won't be gone by the time I get back to the USA.

As you might have gathered, I have been without regular internet access. The situation will continue for the next couple of weeks, but never fear, I will try to post now and then, and certainly will do so more often when the DSL is finally hooked up. Until then, happy Thanksgiving! It snowed today, it was lovely, it made the part about missing our families on that big American holiday a little less depressing.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Latest

-We’ve found an apartment. The contract is signed, we have the keys, and our furniture is scheduled to arrive tomorrow. Victory is ours! I’ve posted a few photos here. Our apartment hunt was way too long and I’m not sure that, by the end, any place would have seemed worth the drama. But we are glad to have found a bright, clean apartment that is near(ish) to Jeff’s office and also has easy access to public transportation and the city of Nurnberg.

-Jeff’s job is fine. He’s going through the usual ups and downs of feeling overwhelmed one day and exhilarated the next. His colleagues are friendly and helpful. And there's a football pitch next to his building so he can't complain.

-We have had a few “holy cow, what did we do?” moments, but they have been balanced by the fun and excitement of a new challenge. We’ve already taken advantage of our location near the Alps (see Austria photos below) and now that our weekends aren’t occupied with marathon apartment-hunting marches, we are looking forward to exploring even more of the cool stuff (Prague, here we come) that’s nearby.

-I’m not bored yet, though I’ll admit it bugs me to list “Hausfrau” as my occupation when I fill in all the forms the Germans like to throw at me. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t really had a Haus to Frau yet.

-I’m still writing my thesis. Progress is slow but steady. I don’t like to talk about it. Jeff thinks that’s weird but he humors me.

-We will be in Portland for 2 weeks at the end of December, and I will go to Montana for a week in January.

-I promise to start posting more specifics about where we live, what we do all day, etc. Now that we actually have a place to hang our hats, it will finally feel like we live here.

-Thanks for your friendly emails and good thoughts. Your messages and phone calls keep us going, and brighten those days when we're feeling lonely and homesick.

-Please keep commenting (see button below). I am never sure exactly who (if anyone?) is out there, so clock in every now and then. I eat that stuff up.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Doesn't Jeff look like Wayne Gretzky?

I think so. You be the judge. And I look kind of like his wife, that gymnast/model from "American Anthem," right?


I've been asked what different or "strange" things I've found in Germany. The Germans I've encountered would probably tell you that I, myself, am one of the strangest things about Germany. I walk around the grocery store staring at food I don't recognize (hazelnut butter? canned kiwi? 79 varieties of sausage?) and after 30 minutes I finally wander to the check-out counter with my bottled water. I spend my time in line fervently hoping that the cashier will not speak to me, and when she does I just smile and nod. Today, I think she might have asked me if it was OK to keep part of my change, but it was worth the price just to escape without being shouted at. Last time, I slunk out of line after being sent back to find someone to weigh my grapes. I've since given up eating fresh fruit and vegetables altogether.

I lied when I wrote that I can understand only two TV channels in our hotel. In addition, we get pay-per-view "previews," which means, as I flip through the channels, that I can view 10 seconds or so of whatever happens to be playing on PPV at that moment. This usually constitutes an anatomy lesson for me, one that I can understand just fine. I've stopped flipping channels while I'm eating, though.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

When the saints go marching in

November 1 is a holiday here, not to alleviate the post-Halloween chocolate hangover, but because it is All Saints' Day. We celebrated by getting as close to the saints as possible; we went to the Alps.

Innsbruck, Austria, hosted the winter Olympics twice (1964 and 1978). It is easy to imagine sweater-clad winter tourists clambering around the picturesque old city in their apres-ski knitwear. This town is wedged firmly between towering peaks that are RIGHT THERE whenever you look up. We were fortunate to enjoy crisp blue skies, a comfy hotel with complimentary sauna and steam room (aaaahhh), Cafe Sacher with its namesake hotel's famous torte down the street, and a heavenly absence of Stau on the autobahn. Stau (traffic jam) is one of the first words we learned during our summertime visit to Deutschland, and they are everywhere, so it was miraculous (thanks to the saints?) that we encountered none on this holiday weekend.

We also visited Swarovski's Crystal World. In case you haven't stopped by the Swarovski (tm) store in your local mall to pick up a $65 crystal iguana lately, you might not know that Swarovski crystals are cut in a town right outside Innsbruck. They have constructed a crystal museum there that has less to do with "here are the busy workers cutting the crystals" and more to do with dark rooms, healing powers, and New Age music by Bryan Eno. A giant head with a waterfall flowing out its mouth is the entrance (see above). Those of you who stop at branding iron museums and vortexes (vortices?) should put this place on your must-see list.