Saturday, July 29, 2006

week 1 in a nutshell

Geez. All this family togetherness is really cutting into my blogging time. And my mum's slowwwww computer located near a window where the blazing sun shines right in your eyes no matter what time of day you're sitting there isn't helping much. It's like being in Internet Addiction rehab. No, not really, but the qwerty keyboard and the wonky mouse are kind of driving me nuts.

It is SO good to be here. This is definitely where I belong. Many things have changed, but the more things change, the more they stay the same, you know? I feel perfectly at home.

My mum and dad, 70 and 77 respectively, have overcome the monumental health obstacles of the past year and are doing amazingly well - full of vim and vigour as always and enjoying life to the fullest. They have a beautiful home with an amazing garden and although this is not the house I grew up in (that house is only a few blocks away but has been turned into a pink-and-glass nightmare), it sure feels like it. It is peaceful and serene and very spiritual.

When we're not out shopping, this is where we've been relaxing...

There's a nice beach about a 10 minute walk away from my parents' place and the boys love spending time there.

Here's the view from the beach looking over to downtown Vancouver. Washington State's snow covered Mt. Baker is visible in the background.

Well, my blogging time is up for today. But guess who we had the pleasure of meeting last night? The lovely Jen and her charming husband P! Bloggers are everywhere! We had a great time and I'll tell you all about later. Family barbeque tonight. Must get cooking.

Monday, July 24, 2006

posting from paradise

Got here safely. Things are fabulous except for scorching hot weather. May be able to post pictures later but now I must go SHOPPING! Love to all.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

all your complimentary salted peanuts are belong to us

Bye Internets! I can be reached at my usual e mail address and may even be blogging sporadically. The neighbour and his guard dog Fang will be patroling the house so don't even think about it. See y'all at the end of August!

only 4,877 miles to go!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

a rolling stone gathers no moss

Full steam ahead with the packing. It is SO hot outside today - 33°C. Good thing I don't have to go anywhere. A lot of other heat-proof people, however, will be going somewhere this evening, because the Rolling Stones are continuing their Bigger Bang European Tour in Hannover. When I first moved here we lived in an apartment close to the stadium where most of the concerts were held and we were treated to the likes of Phil Collins, Michael Jackson and the infamous Stones just by opening a window.

I doubt I'd have the stamina to attend a Rolling Stones concert nowadays. You know what they say - "if it's too loud, you're too old", but Mr. M's secretary, a diehard Stones fan in her mid-50's, will be there tonight. She was so excited she had to take three days off this week and Mr. M had to actually do some work for a change. Ha ha.

This is one of my very favourite Rollings Stones songs from 1978. Just look at the expressions on their faces! We used to play this one at parties all the time when I was a teenager and it cracks me up every time I hear it.

Yep, Mick had it then and he's still got it now.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

no, I have not been abducted by aliens

It just feels like it.

I'm busy packing because we leave on THURSDAY and as usual, there are a million things left to do. I swore to myself that this time there would be no final panic packing at 2 a.m. on Thursday morning. But why break with tradition, eh?

Since boy10 and all the other 4th graders are changing school this year, last week and this week have been a whirlwind of farewell parties and school concerts. Nothing on today though so I'm going to go for it and try to get a lot accomplished.

Things that need to be done by Thursday, besides packing, of course:

1. remove potentially scary items from fridge. Donate to neighbours.

2. Scrub the bejeezus out of the bathtub/shower (nope, can't be put off any longer. ughh)

3. Find Boy10's favourite swimming trunks and the memory card for Mr. M's mp3 player.

4. Decide on how many pairs of shoes is too many

5. Lose 15 lbs. (I'm halfway through a bag of M&Ms as I write this so I don't see it happening any time soon)

To make all of this even more enjoyable, it's supposed to go up to 33°C today. That's like 91°F! Just the right weather for scrubbing the bathtub.

More later...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

pick me! pick me!

You want pie? I'll give you pie. But first a few cherry picking pictures from last weekend.

As I mentioned, our neighbour the Countess is getting on in years and prefers to spend her summers at her finca in Spain rather than hang around with the rest of us peasants. And no, she has never invited us over for tea. She's pleasant enough, but mostly she just ignores us. Her husband, the Count (who was actually a lawyer) passed away a couple of years ago, but she still maintains the big house they lived in for several decades and has a beautiful garden with a couple of large cherry trees. So we and our other neighbours are allowed to pick as many cherries as we please and leave the rest for the birds.

Judging by their colour, I'm assuming that these must be Napoleon cherries, also called Royal Ann in other parts of the world.

They range from pale yellow with a light red blush to pure red and are quite sweet but don't have all that much flavour or aroma. However beggars can't be choosers and it's very nice of the Countess to let us and our other neighbour tramp around on her property while she's gone.

Mr M had to get out his longest ladder to reach the best fruit.

Now, these cherries are not even close to being good pie cherries, but you know me, I'll try anything once, so I made a pie, and the pie was good. Not great, and certainly not pretty (check out those wrinkles!), but good enough. I followed this recipe in a vague, improvisational sort of way, because that's the way I like to cook. I must say, though, that the directions for the lattice crust (I also used a different crust recipe) were so clear and simple that I'm wondering why I never tried to make one before.

3.14159 for everyone!

Monday, July 10, 2006

who are you people and what have you done with the germans?

Well, the World Cup is over. Spit, sweat and tears all around. Germany did a fabulous job and managed to snag third place. Sebastian "Schweini" Schweinsteiger was the start of the evening, scoring all three German goals in the game against Portugal. The German team got a rousing reception at noon yesterday in Berlin and said they couldn't have done it without their fans.

And France vs. Italy on Sunday? Sacré bleu! What a game that was! Smelling salts for Thierry Henry during the first half followed in the second half by a brutal head-butt to the chest for Italian Materazzi by Zinedine "Zizou" Zidane after Materazzi supposedly made some extremely disparaging remarks about Zidane and his family. Only time will tell what really went on there. Zizou was sent off with a red card, ending his remarkable football career on a bitter note, but was still named best World Cup player. Italy went on to win the championship in the penalty shoot-out. Viva Italia, I guess.

Now that things have calmed down a bit, the analysis begins. All day today most TV stations were showing retrospective pictures of smiling, happy fans. Smiling, happy, German fans, even. Germans who waved their country's flag with pride, no longer needing to wonder if it was all right to do so. Germans who displayed amazing hospitality and friendliness to so many foreign guests. Many are now asking if this is going to last, if the World Cup somehow caused Germany's apparent attitude adjustment. Some say it will be business as usual in no time, but others maintain that this is the start of something big that has been building up for the past 60 years and that the games have just been a catalyst.

The World Cup is the best thing to happen to Germany in a long, long time and national pride is definitely not out of place here. In this morning's paper there was a quote by Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's Federal Minister for the Interior, that sums it up nicely:

"Wir fangen fast schon an, uns selber zu mögen."

Translation: "We're almost starting to like ourselves."

We like you too, Germany. Congratulations on a job well done.

Friday, July 07, 2006

sweet sixteen, kind of

As of today, I have been living in This Place (as I like to call it) for 16 years. 16 years, people. That's a long, long time. Much too long if you ask me, but you didn't, so I will remain quiet.

We got married in Vancouver in 1990, 75 guests on my side, 4 on his. 5 days later we flew to Guernsey (visit the Tomato Museum, you won't regret it!), one of the Channel Islands, for a two week honeymoon. Next stop was Hannover, Germany. The 40 cardboard boxes with all my wordly possessions arrived a couple of months later and I had a LOT of unpacking to do. Thinking back I'm not sure I can recommend getting married and moving to a foreign country all in the space of about three weeks, but things worked out all right for the most part.

Someone else also celebrated her 16th this week. S., Mr. M's goddaughter, turned 16 on Wednesday and were were invited to join in on the festivities. When I arrived in Gemany she was only two days old and now she's a beautiful young woman. Time truly does fly. This year her heart's desire was 1) a 125cc motorcycle and/or 2) a chihuahua. Heh. Every parent's dream. We contributed accordingly.

Anyway, I haven't been writing much this week because it's has been too damn hot to even move, much less fire up the old brain cells. On Wednesday, as the temperature shot up to 32°C (almost 90°F), I had to hang out in the frozen food section of the supermarket for quite a while just to get some relief. The kids had gone to the annual Schützenfest with their Oma in the afternoon and we had to drive downtown to pick them up before we went to the birthday party so we were all drenched by the time we got there. For the past couple of days the temperature has been a bit more reasonable but hot weather and no air conditioning just isn't my bag at all. As many expats will tell you, you don't move to Germany for the climate.

Stay tuned for my next post because it's Cherry Pickin' Time in the Mausi neigbhourhood! One of our immediate neighbours, and elderly countess, is at her summer residence in Spain right now but the cherries must be picked nonetheless. Mr. M and our duplex neighbour are going to get out the ladder and go for it either today or tomorrow. Pictures and cherry pie to follow.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Arrivederci Germania

Italy just won 2:0. Oh well. It was a great game.

Germany still has a chance to make 3rd place on Saturday.

Monday, July 03, 2006

i before e, except after c...

Interesting article at Expatica Germany on the ups and downs of teaching English in this country.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

wave that flag

As always, there was food...

and kids...

When you're 13, Canada Day is just, like, soooo 5 minutes ago...

But *I* still retain my youthful exuberance

Happy Canada Day, eh?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Missing the Great White North


It's a gorgeous day and we're having a little family celebration in honour of Canada Day. The West Coast Connection should be waking up just about now so I may give them a call later.

What's a Canadian? Well, some people maintain that a Canadian is just an unarmed American with healthcare, but that's not all there is to it. This next clip is part of I am Canadian, a very popular ad campaign for Molson Canadian beer. Notice the stereotypes on both sides of the border.

And how could we forget Bob and Doug McKenzie (aka Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) of Second City Television fame. Yes, I do actually know people like this. Luckily none of them are related to me.

G'day, eh?

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