11 Sep

Tolerance

As I was shredding old files that we no longer need, I came across this letter from our German cable and phone company sent to all it’s American customers in the days after the September 11, 2001 attack. It reminded me of the outpouring of support Americans received overseas (well, at least in Germany), despite our political or cultural differences.

Letter of condolence and support from Deutsche Telekom after 9/11

Letter of condolence and support from Deutsche Telekom after 9/11

I believe it’s people who only see the world in one way who instigate tragedies like the 9/11 attacks and myriad other awful things that humans do to each other. So, I want to thank the unsung people of the world who are open enough to tolerate those who are different, and more often than not, openly support and cooperate with countries, cultures, and communities that have other practices than their own. Thank you to the citizens of Germany who brought cake and coffee to the soldiers standing guard around the clock; thank you to those who practice Islam in the western world and don’t feel the need to resort to terrorism; thank you to everyone who willingly lends a hand to their neighbor regardless of race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, etc.

24 Aug

Something I Like Better in Europe

We live in suburbia. And it is hot during the day. It’s muggy too if the breezes aren’t strong enough. BUT, Hawaii cools off every night and the evenings are really pleasant. Perfect for a stroll to the neighborhood ice cream shop or biergarten. Oh wait — we live in suburban America where the houses are in one area and the shops are in another. If we lived in a two bedroom apartment we’d have a better chance of being within walking distance of something, but not in a single family house. Drat. I miss the way everything was mixed together in Europe.
Taxes confound me as well. In Europe the taxes are included in the price. If the sign says a single scoop of ice cream is 1.10, then I can hand the cashier 3.30 and get three cones of ice cream. This is great if you have limited cash in your wallet and need to know exactly how much you are spending. Yesterday’s post boogie boarding at the beach shave ice was 2.00 per cup plus .50 each for ice cream at the bottom. I got 7.50 ready — but wait — there’s tax and it really cost 8.92. Drat. Now I’m fumbling for more change.

On the other hand, it’s Sunday and after we go to the farmer’s market, we’re going across the street to the supermarket — because it’s actually going to be open.

X and a gecko

There’s a few of these little geckos in our yard, but they don’t seem to be any help with the very persistent ants that keep coming inside. 

19 Jul

4

Today we attended the Schulfest. After a mere 100 years, our local school has progessed from the dull descriptive of “Leimen Elementary and Middle  School” to having an actual name: Turmschule. It means “Tower School,” which is appropriate for several reasons which only have significance to those of us living in Leimen. The important thing is that the school celebrated the naming with a big party. There was singing and dancing and speeches and bratwursts and drinks and of course, cake and coffee. The classrooms each had activities for the kids.

Entering Katja’s classroom, we had found that two of her classmates had drawn this fabulous ferry, and someone had made an island. Apparently, this ferry goes to Hawaii because Katja added another island on the other end (complete with a small volcano and hula dancers) and her friend Isabel added a very happy volcano to the existing island.

Happy Volcano

You can tell it’s a happy volcano because of it’s smiley face!

I could have  cried from the sweetness of the other kids’ grasp of not only how far away Hawaii is, but WHAT it is as well — and that it meant enough to them to express their understanding in a big picture in the classroom. AND they did this on their own; without prompting from their teacher.

Yeah, I’m gonna go cry now.

15 Jul

7

Friends keep surprising me with gifts.

Blocks from the HH

The ladies of the friday morning breakfast and hand sewing (man, I’m going to miss them) each made quilt blocks for me. C still owes me one, but she’s got until we get a house and our stuff, so there’s no pressure. When I get a chance I will sew them all together, hand quilt it (of course) and hang in on the wall near my sewing machine!

Fliegenpilz Tote

Katrin surprised me with this awesome tote bag above. I just realized that the Fliegenpilz knitting needle case I bought from her would coordinate perfectly with this and that it should become my new project bag!

Valerija's Beach Bag and friend

Valerija, of the fabulous bags, handed this one to me at our last Quilted Chaos meeting. It’s got plenty of room on the inside for a towel and other bulky beach stuff, and then it’s got fabulous pockets on the outside for all those things that usually get lost on the bottom of a big bag. In typical Valerija fashion, each pocket is made from meticulous and tiny patchwork (you should have seen the miniscule bag she made for Friday friend Kathy!).
The other side

And last but not least is the cute little beach bum that the board of the local Quilt Guild gave me. They had a table full of these ladies complete with beachy and watery fabrics as decor for our end of the “year” potluck. As a goodbye gift, I got to take one home. How cute is she with her red and white polka dot suit and little rose in her hat? Oh, and she’s not fat, she’s strong!

14 Jul

9

Since my car has been shipped to Hawai’i I have had to rely more on the generosity of friends and on public transportation. Gone are the days when I can run three or four errands in the morning while the kids are at school (unless I do them by foot in our village). I can get to our military post office box and back home in less than an hour, but if I have to go to the other post (like I did anyway this morning to pick up the kids’ translated school records), I’ll be lucky if I make it back before they get out of class. I’ve compared notes with others, and there just seems to be no good way to get to that particular post, except by car. Downtown Heidelberg, however, is perfect by streetcar because it’s a direct shot AND you don’t have to worry about parking (one can also partake in a bit of champagne at a gallery opening and not have to worry about driving ;-)).

Sunday was my last Craft Day with some of my oldest friends here in Germany. We used to all (well, except S, who I’ve now know for, gasp, 22 years!) be stationed in Wiesbaden, but after seven or eight years, the makeup of the group has changed and others have moved to other posts in the country. Since we are no longer geographically close to each other, there was no one to carpool with. I wasn’t going to let that stop me from attending though. I checked online (I love DB) and found the right combination of trains to bus (plus two streetcars to the train station here) to arrive in a timely fashion.

Weekender Bag at the Bahnhof

What would normally take one hour by car, took me nearly three hours (what with waiting for connections). BUT, it wasn’t difficult. And on a quiet Sunday morning, it was actually rather pleasant. Coming back, I skipped the bus by getting a ride to the train station and cut nearly an hour off the trip. There were a lot more passengers on the return trip — presumably going home after a weekend with family or friends. People watching was excellent.

I’m not sure what I’m trying to say with this post. I like European public transportation, and I try to use it when it makes sense. I think I will miss it. I wonder what it would take to convince more people to use mass transit, and I think it comes down to being in the right mindset. If a city has a decent infrastructure and if one is willing to “do” less in a day (like many of our one-car-family friends) then it works. My method has been mostly to find things close by. It is my hope that we can do that in Hawai’i too.

The title of the post? The number of days until we fly. I am contemplating a bit of a countdown.

28 Jun

A Typical Weekend

Last weekend, the kids and I used our last few days with our car to make one last visit with friends we’ve known nearly our whole time here. Needless to say, we had a great weekend. It never ceases to amaze me how great their daughter and my kids all get along despite the fact that they play together only once or twice a year.

Being Nürnberg, our priorities were the zoo (Tiergarten), and Playmobil Fun Park

Grooming a Playmobil Horse

Where the girls spent a whole lot of time with the horses again

Milking a Plastic Cow

and Zavi milked a cow.

He scaled castle walls as well:

Life sized castle

I love how Playmobil Park is really just a great big playground. Everything is kid-powered and encourages exploration.

We’d been to the Tiergarten before as well, but it’s a really nice one and we really couldn’t go to Nürnberg without seeing their adorable new sensation, Flocke:

Flocke

OK, she’s just a baby polar bear who’s mama rejected her and must now be raised by humans, but she’s really cute. Berlin has Knut, and now Nürnberg has Flocke. We waited in the hot sun to see her, and I can’t say it was really worth it, but we had to do it anyway.

When we left our friends to return home, they gifted us the entire Ritterburg (knight’s castle) that my kids play with every time they visit (although the walls are a bit small to climb up). We’ll have to mail it to Hawai’i, but it’s totally worth it and now the kids have something to play with until we fly. THANKS!
Smaller scale castle

As has been typical here lately, on the drive home we saw lots of cars with German flags in anticipation of Germany playing in the European Cup semifinals. My favorite was this “only in the former eastern block” Trabbie filled with fans and flying the colors.

Schwartz, Rot, Gold

By the way, Germany beat Turkey and will play Spain for the title on Sunday!

16 Jun

WWKIP Day

Saturday was World Wide Knit in Public Day. I went to my LYS, Anette‘s, and sat in the display window for a few hours, doing my part.

I had finished up my non-packed yarn on the dish cloths and then sent off my needles, so I needed to buy new supplies. I opted for cheap bamboo needles that I can take on the plane with me. If they get confiscated I won’t shed any tears. Anette is a wool fanatic so I couldn’t possibly knit with cotton in her shop unless I smuggled it in. That’s OK, because when I explained my project parameters (must work with my cheap needles, be easy to stop and start, require a minimum of skeins, and fit within my skill-set), Friday morning friend R suggested the felted pot holders from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Anette jumped up and grabbed the book off the shelf — I was obviously in the right place!
Knit Felted Potholder

I’m pleased with the reults and I think I have enough wool for a few more on the plane. that is if my daughter doesn’t use all the yarn up making finger crocheted strings — her new obsession.

I’m pleased with the day as a whole. I chose to walk to Anette’s even though it’s probably two miles (perfect for a bike ride, but the bikes are packed). On the way, I ran into my son’s best friend’s mom. We walked part of the way together as she was off to the family garden plot. We had a comfortable chat. Once at Anette’s I met R from the Friday morning quilting/breakfast group and her two daughters. It’s always nice to spend more time with any of the Friday ladies (I had just missed U, also of the group). After they left, my neighbor E arrived with her daughter. Her daughter and my son have been in the same class since we arrived here four years ago, so we are good friends and enjoy hanging out together. She was kind enough to drive me home afterward and I had her drop me off at a friend of my daughter’s house in our same village so I could pick up Katja from the birthday party there. The party was going well, so everyone was staying longer. Instead of going home, I was invited to stay the extra hour. Mom S and I always have fascinating conversations about our various cultures and languages.

I finally came home so full of friendship and rich experiences that I was actually a bit melancholy about the prospect of leaving it all. I have met so many interesting people here from so many different backgrounds — many of which I could never have even imagined beforehand. I will miss the camaraderie that forms even between the parents when the kids stay in the same school group for multiple years. I will miss walking down the street and at least recognizing my fellow villagers if not running into friends. Saturday was not a unique day: Friday was cake and coffee with E and M and our kids who are all classmates, Sunday was an excursion with E. It happens all the time and I will miss it all the more because of that.

06 Jun

Etwas von Dorothee

Dorothee sent me a most wonderful gift!

I love the end papers. They remind me of German Scherenschnitte. The book is “Etwas von den Wurzelkinder” written and illustrated by Sybille v. Olfers. It is a German family classic for people my age and older, about the seasons. And, of course, the autumn page has Fliegenpilze!

I’ve seen this book at friends’ homes, and certainly the aesthetic lives on in Jahresseitkinder and Waldorf toys. Here’s a link to an edition from 1913. You may also recognize it as the basis for Sieglinde Schön Smith’s prize winning “Mother Earth and her Children.” Smith’s quilt was also the impetus for an English translation of Olfers’ book using the quilt as the illustrations.

I have to interject here my mixed feelings about the new book. Smith’s quilt is undeniably beautiful, and made with love and skill. The original book is a classic in Germany and it is no wonder that Olfers’ beautiful images stayed with Smith. She has done a masterful job interpreting the original, but I am a bit saddened that in all the hoopla about the quilt and the recreation of the book, little to no credit is ever given to Olfers without who’s artwork Smith couldn’t have made her fantastic quilt, and who’s words support the story. Most of the references I’ve seen in the quilt world seem to assume that Smith made up the images out of her rich imagination. To their credit though, Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine has an article online that explains the whole story, and if you look closely enough at this review the original date is up at the top next to the translation credit.

That said, I do love Smith’s quilt and must say that her appliqué and embroidery is richer than Olfers’ original illustrations (although I suspect that much original detail and subtlety has been lost due to the limitations of early 20th century print reproduction). I am also giddy happy that I now own the Olfers book and can revel in it’s nostalgic German-ness whenever I want. The generosity of the people I have met while living in Germany amazes me and for it I am forever grateful. Thank you again, Dorothee, I will treasure this gift and everything that it reminds me of.