Category Archives: A day in the life

Anything that happens as part of a day in the life of yours truly.

Did You Know? They Eat Porcupine.

Anyone who has been in an international relationship has had the talk about customs and traditions. It tends to happen pretty early on and is part of the we’re-different-but-maybe-not-really-so-different (ie “How weird are you and can I handle it?”) conversation that hopefully eventually leads to you figuring out that although worlds apart you were meant to be together.

Right? Right.

Oliver and I met in the Fall and that led pretty quickly to talk about the winter holidays and Christmas traditions. With him being German, I wasn’t expecting anything too shocking or different to pop up: some real candles on the Christmas tree maybe (yes), celebrating the evening before rather than the morning of (yes), and not following the cult of the Coca-cola Santa (yep, non-Coke Weihnachtsmann).

Everything was pretty much as expected until he floored me with the following: For Christmas dinner, he said, his family ate roasted porcupine.

“Porcupine? Really??,” I asked (did I hear that right?). Continue reading

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Renovation: A Recap

Moo.

So right before all that reproductive stuff happened, Oliver and I had been in Austria checking out our itsy bitsy little vacation apartment, figuring out what renovations we wanted to do.

There it is!

Here’s a little recap.

* A small idea snowballed and suddenly, almost by accident we bought a little place in the Fall of 2009. You can read more about the why’s and what’s here.

* The original owners had been there since the building was constructed, so it was packed full of everything, including four sets of oil and vinegar. We left everything in place until renovation time, because moving anything left a gaping hole. You can see some ‘before’ pictures here.

* In August of last year we drove to Austria to make the arrangements. We had some interesting ideas, including using pink. You can read about my concerns here.

* And then it began. First step: get rid of everything. Everything included all the inner walls. Ouch. See it here.

All caught up? Ok. Renovation is only partly about destruction, tomorrow we’ll see some of the fun parts. Until then, below are some final pics of reaching zero, rock bottom, the empty shoebox.

+++

…and then there was nothing left but the subflooring and some pipes.

I think this used to be the bathroom.

Time to start over from the ground up.

And then there was nothing but the shoe box it came in.

Remember that I said it was more like an Airstream trailer than an apartment?

Annnd break!

So a quick break turned into a loooong break. It wasn’t planned, it just sort of evolved that way. Mentally I haven’t been that far away though. Almost daily I’ve been composing updates in my head that make it about as far as draft stage or as scribble on a piece of paper in whatever bag I’m carrying around. A lot has built up, but nothing made it to post.

I kept asking myself what was so hard about actually sitting down and getting it all out? Simple answer: log jam

See there was this one story that sort of blocked the rest. It was one I couldn’t share for a while and then didn’t feel like talking about. But it was also the one story that affected everything that came after, so it had to come first, right?

Maybe. Either way, I let it stop me. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to share it, I just couldn’t for a while. But now, finally, I’m typing again.

As I do that you can ask yourselves, what was the subliminal message McAll Magazine trying to send with that image above? (Hint: check out the shoe horn people.)

Poor puppy.

Graffiti – Bavaria style

Just down the street, a tagger’s been at work.

I find it charming, but then again, it’s not my wall.

Please sir may I have some more?

Still quite the street urchin, Scarlett will try and eat anything. Along with snatching food right out from under Fergus’s nose, using a clever monkey-like maneuver with her little paw to drag everything into her waiting open mouth, she’ll have a go at stealing anything not securely sealed in thick layers of plastic.

Nothing is really safe from her, but she has a particular fondness for bread. We discovered this when Oliver baked a loaf and left it to cool on the counter. Twenty minutes later, he found the whole back end missing, nibbled off while it was still steaming hot. This was also after she’d already lapped up the entire egg wash he’d prepared for the crust when his back was turned.

The egg theft was probably a healthy move for her. I wasn’t so sure about the bread, but after eating half her weight she didn’t even bloat, so apparently it’s ok.

We’re learning, albeit slowly, to keep things out of her reach. In the meantime, butter and cheese slices go missing and crackers get mysterious rounded edges when left on the counter out of direct line of sight.

Oh, and very spicy curried cauliflower seems to be her thing too.

Kittens! Or how I hijacked blog traffic.

This is now, officially, hands-down, my most popular post ever. At first I wasn’t sure what was driving traffic during my infrequent (but smashingly brilliant) posts. But comparing it with my google search results, the pattern became clear.

If you’re visiting this site for the first time, this is probably you:

A working stiff , you just arrived at the office. It’s the end of the month or the beginning, your project has just ended, or begun and the last thing you want to do at that moment is actually work.

You sit at your computer and decide to do something that makes you look productive, but is also fun.

That’s right, you’re surfing.

If you just googled “Kittens!”, welcome to my site, feel free to read about if you want, but I suspect you have to get to work soon, so here’s your crack:

Kittens! Cute Kittens! Chubby kittens! Baby Cats!

Kittens! Cute Kittens! Chubby kittens! Baby Cats! Whatever you call your poison, here they are. Enjoy.

Continue reading

May Day Madness

Last Friday I get a call from Oliver at 6:45 in the evening to grab my bag and be ready to jump in the car because tomorrow is May Day.

Crap!

As Michelle over at Jewelled Concrete laid out so well, Germany, actually Bavaria, is great for having a ton of holidays that can bulk up the average person’s vacation by up to 13 days a year. Heaven, right? But given the fact that stores are closed on Sundays, when a holiday falls on a weekend, well, chaos can ensue.

The last place you want to be – if you can avoid it – is in a grocery store, within an hour of closing on an evening before a holiday, or worse a series of days, that will interrupt normal shopping patterns.

It probably has something to do with the tiny fridges that most people make do with here. And the fact that those tiny fridges have even tinier freezers. And of course the fact that Germans are, as a rule, frugal people who are less like to say (as I would), “Screw it, we can order in or eat out for the weekend”. Also, factor in that most people work late enough during the week that they don’t make it before the 8 pm closing time and … then take Saturday grocery shopping out of the mix: Bam, you have a crisis.

Germans would rather not spring for take out. Just say no to Chineese Foooooood.

We rushed to the store and found, with a good 45 minutes left to spare, that sections were already picked bare or clogged with lines of folks trying to get those sausages and that last loaf of bread. We moved quickly through and grabbed the essentials and got in line with a good 20 minute cushion.

Is that the check out counter up ahead?

Still, the lines were already stretched to the back of the store. Now for those that don’t know, Germans and lines don’t mix well. They just don’t do them.  Now imagine stressed out Germans forced into line formation. And then imagine those lines don’t move. At all. Continue reading