Thursday, August 26, 2010

A new addition to the family

Asmus and I have expanded our family. Simone officially joined us at 12:20 p.m. on Saturday, August 21, 2010.

Simone is not a newborn. She was born in 1998 and is a wine-colored Mercedes-Benz E-Class. We have never owned anything more expensive than a computer. It is a big responsibility but we think we are ready.

It is pretty exciting. Although I am not driving it, I am excited. I teach English Tuesday nights and the bus schedule is not in my favor. The lesson is over at 9 p.m. but I don't get home until 10 p.m. It takes a half hour for the bus to come and then it takes a scheduled break at the train station for 7 minutes. Now I don't care about no schedules.

I am not driving it because my license expired March 2009, the day of my wedding in Hamburg. I am a passenger and it is killing me.

Of course, I have complaints. I have two big complaints and both are about size.

I have always complained about signage in Germany. I never know where i am in this country. There are limited signs and when there are signs, there is not enough information on them. The street signs are microscopic. I estimate that they are about four inches tall. When you are zooming by at 25 miles an hour, that is about the size of an amoeba. Also, there is only one sign at each intersection. Driving in an unfamiliar area is very stressful.

I thought it was odd that so many Germans have navigation systems in their cars. EVERYONE here has one. Now that I have worked as a map reader here, I understand this need for digital help. Fortunately, Simone was born with a Navi, as the locals say. We just haven't figured it out yet.

Also, parking spaces here are two narrow. I am pretty bad at parking between lines. I always park far from a mall, where there were fewer cars. With that space, I can drive over three rows until I get the car straight. Tuesday afternoon I was radiating sympathy like I was the sun when Asmus parked Simone in the lot near our apartment. He got her in but it would be impossible for anything bigger than a SmartCar in the spot next to Simone.

We did not have the luxury of space on my return from teaching Tuesday night. Residents in downtown Kiel get four spaces that they can use in a parking lot across the street from our apartment. There was one spot between two cars. There was a lot of back and forth and back and forth before Asmus got her in. Then we had to struggle to get out of the car. There was not enough room to open the doors wide. I am going to need a valet parking to suddenly appear here when I start driving in Germany in November.

Despite all the size problems, it is so nice to have an efficient means of transportation. Earlier this year, we moved from one apartment to another in two cab rides. If there are sick parents to move from home to doctors offices, there is a backseat for them and a trunk for a walker or wheelchair. The backseat and trunk were requirements for any addition to our family.

I am excited about all the possibilities. We wanted to do paintball and go carts. Both places were about 90 minutes away from our apartment by public transportation. With Simone, we are even closer to the fun. I love closer.

Time flies when you're having fun

The view from the anniversary celebration spot.

On July 25, Asmus and I celebrated two years of wedded bliss. Time flies when you're having fun.

Of course, there were massages and a great dinner. We had an OK time at our favorite hotel in Hamburg. I sent note listing my complaints -- liquidy scrambled eggs that were not hot; half-filled minibar (the items in it are free, so it must be full!); and other small things. In reply, we were invited to stay in the duplex suite that overlook the Alster lakes at the price of a regular room. That was a great gift!

We had a great dinner at Cox restaurant. The food was fabulous and the service was warm. Germans prefer quality food over quality service. It was nice to get both. I got tap water with no complaints. (At a charming restaurant near Frankfurt, a server told me that it is illegal to give out tap water. If she gave me water, she would be fired. All of it lies. Somewhere along the way, Germans joined the Church of Bottled Water. While the United States is slowing waking up to the environmental impact of collecting, packaging and transporting water, always-eco-friendly Germany pushes bottled water on everyone. Requests of tap water are often met with sighs, complaints or refusals.) The server took our photograph happily and congratulated us. The food came fast and she kept checking on us. Cox was last on the list and now it is on the top of my favorite places to eat.

Then we hit Cafe Gnosa for dessert. German dessert are not the same as American desserts. Kuchen is a collection of thin layers of cakes and thick layers of cream. Cafe Gnosa comes very close to getting it right. There are tables outside, a cafeteria in the front of the restaurant, and, in the back, a Mod dining room where cutting-edge visual art hangs on the walls, shag carpets lies on the floor, and cool lamps hang over table. I dragged Asmus through the cafeteria straight to the groovy dining room, which was empty. While we debated the niceness of sitting in an empty room and having the server only wait on us, our server, Robert, arrived. He heard the debate and told us that we must sit back here and he would see that we were happy [There was no mention of the anniversary.]. Robert fulfilled his promise. Plus, we discovered the gloriousness that is coffee with banana liqueur.

It was almost as good as the perfumed lotion that Asmus got me. First, I have a ridiculous love of lotion. I love it. I love smooth skin. When I was in Chicago earning an over-priced masters degree, I bought Princesse Marina de Bourbon perfume. It was this sweet berry sensation. When I moved back East, I could not find it anywhere. I eventually gave up the dream of smelling like jam. The dream was realized a few Sundays ago, when Asmus gave me Thierry Mugler's Angel perfumed lotion. It smells exactly like Princesse Marina de Bourbon. He had no idea about my perfume heart ache.

I got him a blender. He is a fan of appliances with motors.

I recommend marriage. If for nothing else besides the gifts.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Purging

Kiel Week- The Activities!

There were concerts. Kiel has new acts like Cassandra Steen. It also has oldies but goodies. This year, Nena performed (Here in Deutschland, she had more hits than 99 Luft Balloons. She had a well-received record last year. If you can find Wir sind Wahr (We are True), your life will be better than it was before.). Level 42 was also on stage. I missed all of them. There is a lot of standing at concerts in Europe. I am not one for standing. I did a lot of eating, drinking and shopping. I bought a cool ring from Mexico. I had a massage. I bought a vase.

This is where I fell in love with Thai Massage. I went twice.

At this "Netherlands" pavilion, this patient man made glass vases, objets d'art and candelabras while you watched.
I bought a delicate yet intricate vase from him for 15 euros.

Here are two views of the beloved ring that I bought at the Mexican jewelry pavilion.


I have been working like Harriet Tubman (without the good feeling that comes from leading hundreds of people out of slavery) and unfortunately I have been neglecting communication to the world.

Here are a bunch of photos of my summer.

Kiel Week- The Food!

Nepalese cuisine. Delicious. For the uninitiated, it is similar to Indian.

Excellent chimichurri and wine!

The Taste of Peru is much like the taste of Mexico.
The moles were a bit different.

The crowd at the International Food Market.

Interestingly, Rwandan food has yucca, like Caribbean food.
It has some kick. This stand offered dishes with
alligator and springbok but I stuck to beef.