Friday, October 31, 2014


Moo is very popular among my friends. It's no wonder, as he's a sweet, soft, and friendly cat. I've had some friends, upon meeting up again, immediately ask how Moo is doing. I always tease them and ask if I'm chopped liver since they only asked about the cat. Other friends have asked me to give their greetings to Moo. Instead, I just hold the phone up so they can say hi to him themselves.

Apparently he is also very therapeutic. I've had a couple friends call lately and ask if they could come over to have some Moo time, which I am happy to oblige. I can totally understand his appeal; it's so relaxing to have him sit adjacent, purring happily and begging for a tummy rub. Even better yet? There is no time limit on how long he'll allow a person to pet his belly. He's unlike most other cats.

I think that all of the love for Moo is sweet. I find that the vast majority of my friends are animal lovers and that suits me just fine.

Pet meh belleh!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Don't leave that on the beach!

On the way down to the beach in Barcelona, we came across this sculpture. He rather reminded me of Mr. Hankey from South Park; perhaps he is a crustacean relative?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Befuddled in Barcelona

I saw this nerdy...mannequin outside of a store in Barcelona. Okay, maybe he's just the bones of a mannequin, but I was feeling all "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." Or not really. I thought he was quite cute, as he seemed to be rather befuddled.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Something on the wall!

One of the guys from our group had us all over for an event and handed out blank cards. He asked me to write something on the wall. I obliged exactly as he requested.

The markers were so pretty so I decided to go all ROY G BIV on the whole thing, muttering the phrase to myself as I went.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review: Shocked, by David Casarett

Casarett, David. Shocked:  Adventures in Bringing Back the Recently Dead. New York: Penguin, 2014.

I was having a grumpy day last week. I must have sighed in exasperation about 50 times by 11:00; it was that kind of day. That night, I picked up a book by David Casarett, M.D. and my mood changed.

I never thought I'd laugh while reading about resuscitation techniques in 18th century Amsterdam, but I found myself giggling wildly when reading the first chapter of Casarett's book, Shocked: Adventures in Bringing Back the Recently Dead. From then on, my funk of a mood passed and I continued to laugh throughout parts of the book.

For the record, I'm not an excessively morbid person. Casarett, both a doctor and an excellent writer, covers a morbid topic: dead people, almost dead people, and people mistaken for dead. He traces the history of medicine and science and their ability to bring back people who are near death, whether it's from drowning or from heart issues. He explores CPR, cryogenics, hibernating mice, and a whole other host of discoveries.

The book was packed with scientific and medical information in a (mostly) accessible format. His writing is hilarious and his pursuit of research for the book is incredibly in-depth; his ridiculous episode of being tied, face-down, on a moving horse certainly highlights his willingness to test early resuscitation techniques!

This isn't necessarily a book for all to read. There are a few squeamish bits and I'll admit that even I checked out a bit on some of his descriptions of cell biology. However, for those interested in reading more about medical discoveries in keeping people alive from a book that has some hilarious moments and jaunty writing, it's a good one to pick up.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My week: October 26 ed.

-I was finally feeling better after being sick the previous week. I reveled in a night off with no plans and even took a leisurely bike ride. It felt so good to be free and feeling (mostly) healthy.

-I registered for another German course. I somewhat dread giving up my relative freedom of "only" two standing commitments a week (in addition to traveling many weekends and attending social events as they come up); if I took this course, every single night would be taken up and that's just for the standing stuff. When my various groups meet, I would sometimes be double-booked for the night. Hmm. I always alternate from loving all the socializing and learning to feeling a little burned out from having a fun schedule all the time.

-I went and looked at an apartment for our new coworker who will be moving here. It's a super nice place and had it been in downtown Kaiserslautern when I was looking, I would have rented it!

-One night, I crammed 17 people into my living room and cooked them dinner. To relax, we colored mandalas. It was a really pleasant night with great company. Moo was thrilled with all the attention. I also had two house guests. It felt good to be social again after being out of the loop while sick.

-I attended the Rocky Horror Picture Show live event at one of the local military bases with some friends. It was fantastic and completely wild! As we say in Denglish, my mind was "geblown." I've been to burlesque and crazy art events before, but in the land of the military, I'm accustomed to a rather buttoned-up environment. So, when I arrived to the community center and the actors are wearing skimpy costumes and men were running around in tights and heels (and not much more), I certainly took pause. Soon I was clapping and hooting and hollering with everyone else during the introduction where the performers hazed "virgins," those who had never seen the movie before, making them perform embarrassing games. During the movie, the live actors mimicked the show as we used props and yelled things along to the movie. I was totally amused by the actors. It would be funny to see a picture of what they looked like during the weekday compared to their outlandish costumes that night.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bauer Lipp has gone too far this time!

My family visited a farmers' market near the Hauptwache when we were in Frankfurt. A bottle of "Spargel Geist" caught my mind. Bauer (Farmer) Lipp produces the bottle of spirits (schnapps) with a stalk of Spargel inside.

I believe that the farmer has gone too far with the love of Spargel.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cheshire Cat cupcakes

A couple years ago, my Detroit friends and I had the opportunity to participate in an awesome, underground-style event that only happens in one city each on the east and west coasts, and in Detroit as well. The whole event was super creative, participatory, and inclusive. My friends made art and costumes for the event and I was awed by their creativity. I made a costume for myself and I was awed at how not creative I am ;)

Anyway, for the event, I made 76 cupcakes. If I remember correctly, they were all vegan. I am not good at domestic skills either, but wanted to make some fancy cupcakes. I'd give myself a B- (mostly because of the effort!). I found a super cool guide to making them here. Mine didn't turn out exactly the same but I was okay with that even though they looked like some really weird demons.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Liebster Award, kind of

B. from Ami in Schwabenland nominated me for a Liebster award. I think it's a nice idea. I'm not sure how much I can fully participate. I lurk in read several blogs, but don't generally comment on them so it would be a bit strange to nominate someone who doesn't exactly know that I read the blog (or maybe I'm being paranoid).

However, I do think it's a nice idea and will at least participate with my answers.

1. What is your next planned travel destination?
It will probably be Rotterdam. I met some cool people from there and was invited to an event. I have a local who has kindly offered to host me, which is my favorite way to experience a city and a great way to spend time with an interesting person. Other than that, I don't have any big trips planned and that's okay with me because I've been feeling worn down from getting sick so much lately.

2. In what way/s do you see your home country differently than before you became an expat?
I think that I will feel more unsafe when I am in the US. Even since the two years since I've left, gun control has been further diminished in the area where I used to live. Here in Germany, I feel much more safe. Yes, bad things can and still do happen, but you don't see people bringing in huge guns when they go to buy grout at the building supply store here. There have been too many accidents with accidental discharges of weapons for me to feel comfortable with people carrying them in casual environments such as the store or public buildings.

3. Which book that you've read still sticks in your mind as one that left a deep impression on you?
Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I almost peed myself with laughter about the part where the beginning French students were trying to explain Easter and everything that goes along with it, but only with a very basic vocabulary. When I try to speak German, I totally know the feeling and it's a reminder to be empathetic to people learning a new language (such as immigrants).

4. What are two of your favorite natural scents or smells (so no perfume or cologne)?
Lavender (fresh is the best!) and lily of the valley (my grandmother's favorite flowers, so they have a really nice memory attached, too).

5. What is the funniest thing someone has said to you lately? (provide context if needed)
Okay, I wouldn't say that it wasn't a particular thing someone said, but a group of us were talking and somebody laughed in a way that sounds French. That got everyone else going and soon we had a table full of people doing stupid (fake) French laughs. I started laughing even harder because it reminded me of the noise that horses make when they're happy (it's called nickering). Seriously, the table sounded like my old horse when I was about ready to give him grain.

6. When you look to your right as you're reading this, what do you see?
Immediate right: the Post Settings from Blogger, if you want to get technical ;) In more of the spirit of the question, I could say that I see a very happy and purr-y cat sitting next to me.

7. What would you tell your 15-year-old self if you could send a message back in time?
 Hmm... I don't think I'd tell my 15 year old self anything, because I wouldn't want to skew the results. I've been watching too many time travel movies :) I've had a good life with some bumps in the road, but I took those as learning opportunities. If pressed, I might send myself something non-committal, like "life is good."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Roadside Candy Machines: Frankfurt am Main Hauptbahnhof

I saw this guy outside the Hbf in Frankfurt. There's the ubiquitous "sticky hammer" and some cola-flavored bubble gum. If I didn't find these things so unsanitary, I would have been tempted to try the gum.

I felt like a weirdo as I was taking the picture because a ton of people were waiting for the bus.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Aw shucks, here's some corn for you

I saw this guy during the Bad Dürkheim Wurstmarkt. At the festival, a roasted ear of corn cost about 2,50 euros. That kills me because in my home state in the summer, one can buy about a dozen or more ears of corn for the same price.



(No, seriously, look under the sign - there's corn hanging down. Creeeepy)

*Note: the antibiotics I've been taking have been making me feel a bit strange lately.

Some interesting English in Strasbourg

We saw this on a menu in Strasbourg, France and had to smile: "the softness of instant." It's a rather strange dessert (which was actually a sweet flammkuchen with seasonal fruit).

Monday, October 20, 2014

An incorrigible Chihuahua

One of the reasons that I love Germany: while at the biergarten, we saw an owner bring his cute long-haired chihuahua who was eating every scrap in sight, then was cuddled and baby-talked to by some ladies at the next table. For a while he went missing and the waitress came back with him, trying to keep a straight face and look very serious because he let himself into the kitchen. The dog did not look contrite in the least, and his owner scolded him in German, all the while smiling broadly. It was pretty funny.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My week: October 19 ed.

Ergh. This week was tough. I spent most of it feeling miserable and sick.

-On Monday, I was still in Spain; our flight was leaving at 1700 and I had spent a sleepless night tossing and turning, burning up with fever. My friend R was very sweet and set out early to find some Ibuprofen and yogurt for me. I eventually was able to stomach both and was able to get my fever down a bit but felt horrible so I sent R out for the day since there was no sense in making him stay in. We met up again later and flew home.

-I went to the doctor (sinus and ear infections) and missed several days of work. I wasn't happy about that because I had been gone so much the previous weeks and there were some things I wanted to take care of. I did go back for a few hours one day, but could feel my fever reigniting so I went home again. By the end of the week, I was in the office for most of each day. During that time, there was a special exercise going on at our location. I laughed about taking the most guarded nap ever during my lunch break; there were security personnel with automatic weapons just outside the door (it had nothing to do with me). I felt ridiculous the next day when they asked if I was feeling any better.

-I skipped my German class and stayed home to sleep instead. It was the wiser choice.

-I attended a dinner event and saw a ton of people I knew already and met some interesting new people, including a German couple who sound like Kiwis. Immediately upon hearing them speak, I asked them if they had lived in Australia (okay, I had the wrong country, but close enough). Young Germans have the opportunity to have an extended visa/work in some fields within Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, so some came back from their adventures with a new accent while speaking English.

-I went to a brunch and to a potluck and saw a bunch of friends from town.

-I still have not been feeling well, probably from being rundown by so much travel. Also, I think that the antibiotics I have are making me feel queasy so I'll have to see if the doctor will give me something else.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The marshmallow fallacy

When we were in Nuremberg, we were talking to a friendly German guy at the bar about life in the US. He was telling me that one night, he wanted to do something American so he sat in front of the tv and ate some marshmallows out of a bag. I couldn't help it; I burst out laughing! I asked him if he did that because he thought that Americans did just eat in front of the tv (which yes, some people do), or if he thought we ate plain marshmallows. He thought the latter.

He was surprised when I told him that most people (at least the ones I know) in the US don't just eat marshmallows plain. Usually we use them in something, either in s'mores (marshmallows roasted over the campfire, a piece of Hershey's chocolate, and graham crackers) or in Rice Krispie treat bars (puffed rice cereal and melted marshmallows). Even then, we don't eat those all the time. Since I'm from the north, we don't subject our sweet potatoes/yams to marshmallows, but some other regions do, such as the south. Our new German friend thought it was interesting to learn this.

Friday, October 17, 2014

My week: October 12 ed.

-My family was still in town. We took a day trip to Idar-Oberstein and they loved it. We just about killed ourselves hiking up to the Felsenkirche and then later the castle (and to find that the latter was closed!). On the way home, we visited the airbase in Ramstein so my family could see all the changes that had taken place since the last time they'd been there.

-On Tuesday, I drove them to the airport and said goodbye. I then went back to work and had to wade through a lot of things that had come up.

-I had my German class.

-On Friday night, I flew with my friend R to Barcelona for the weekend. We had a nice time but I was starting to feel a bit run-down by Sunday night.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I've been up to: October 5 ed.

This week was a continuation of my vacation with my parents and younger brother. I hope to write more about it in detail, but for now, here's the short version:

-We stayed overnight in Kaiserslautern, after just barely catching the last train home from Saarbruecken since our bus from Paris was late.

-We traveled to Ludwigsburg and visited the palace there, taking a tour completely in German. As if I didn't know this already, the tour confirmed that my grasp of German is still very basic. The tour guide was running out of time so she spoke very quickly. I wasn't sure if Carl Eugen had 300 children or 300 pairs of shoes.* The latter made more sense to me but when I inquired what he had 300 of during a lull, I learned that it was children. I wondered how he was able to get anything else done.

-Then we moved on to Stuttgart, where we attended the Canstatter Wasen, or Volksfest. It's similar to Oktoberfest. It was okay but I'm kind of over big fests.

-We took a tour of the Mercedes factory. It was free and quite interesting.

-Moving on, we stayed in Nuremberg for two days. I've been once before for class, but that visit was limited to two museums so it was good to further explore the city. My brother and I made a new acquaintance, a local guy, who was awesome and gave us a lot of information about the area.

-We attended the wine festival at Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. This was more of my scene.

-On Sunday, we visited the Roteweinfest in Ingelheim am Rhein.

*Other sources I've briefly read don't mention that many kids so I wonder if I'm still getting it wrong!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My week: September 28 ed.

I'm quite a bit behind on my weekly updates, as it's been a super busy three weeks or so.

The end of September was a busy, exciting, fun, and tiring time for me. My parents and my younger brother visited for almost two weeks. I haven't seen them in almost two years so I was thrilled to have them visit.

-The week got off to a rough start. By the end of the week prior, I was feeling really tired. I thought it was just from staying up too late. Instead, it was because I was getting sick! I had dinner with my German-English speaking partner and crashed once I got home. The next day, I was full-on sick so I went to the doctor and got some antibiotics. I ended up missing two days of work, which was extremely frustrating. I had planned to tie up many loose ends before my vacation and wasn't able to.

-My family arrived two days after I got sick. I was feeling better, but not great. We hung out in Frankfurt for the day then went to Paris for the weekend. I saw my new friends, whom I had met in Brussels in August. It's awesome to spend time with locals and get their perspective on the city!

Oh, for Smurf's sake! Getting German wrong

One of my friends uses a German term, "schimpfen," that means "to scold" or "to reprimand." It's what one might use to describe someone berating a jaywalker for walking when the light is not green for pedestrians. Germans have been known to do this, although I can't say that I haven't been the direct recipient of this yet (thank goodness!).

I was having drinks with an international group and effected quite the laughter when I used what I thought was the correct word. The Germans died laughing, saying that the word I used wasn't a verb, which confused me greatly until they explained that I was using the German word for Smurfs.

So, one doesn't "Schlumpfen" someone else; they would schimpfen. Oy vey, do I feel silly! However, after reading some articles, I did find that in the Smurf world, they DO use the word "smurf" as a verb. So there.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A saint and a roadside candy machine in Nuremberg

Perhaps this might be one of the few roadside candy machines "blessed" by a saint. It's a bit odd, then, to see "voodoo dolls" being sold beneath the Virgin Mary.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Naughty Gnomes in Nuremberg

I was wandering through the streets of the old town in Nuremberg, window shopping. I was excited because I thought that I could see some gnomes in a shop. I love gnomes (and my old roommate hates them, so I like to tease her even more more about them). Drawing nearer for a better look, I gasped in shock.

These are some exceptionally naughty gnomes! In fact, they're R-rated gnomes, either dressed as an executioner with another gnome's head in hand, some sassy lady gnomes, and even an exhibitionist gnome! I am including a picture of him, but edited it and he now has on a bikini. I can assure you that the gnome doesn't wear such a thing in person, but at least the store warns the customer with a little sign. Thank goodness that I looked at the edited picture better before I posted it, though, because I then realized that the gnome behind him was being an exhibitionist too, and I needed to edit the picture further. After all, my family reads this blog and I don't want to shock them ;)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Roadside candy machines: Abandoned in Ingelheim!

During my family's visit, we took a trip to Ingelheim, which is called "die Roteweinstadt," or "red wine city." In fact, the point of the trip was to visit the red wine festival being hosted by this city on the Rhein River, near Mainz.

On the way to the festival, we saw the emptied out roadside candy below. It looked sad and forlorn. However, the ones with dusty candy also look that way to me.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Scoring a goal in the men's room

We ate dinner at Joe Peña's Cantina y Bar in Ludwigsburg. One of the members in our party came back from the men's restroom and was laughing. He took a picture of the item below (when no other men were in the restroom, of course!).

Apparently, it's a soccer "game" that men can use in the urinal.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A mullet and a head tattoo mannequin in Nuremberg

I often run across strange mannequins in my travels. From beaten-up mannequins to ones who are just too excited about the clothes they're modeling, they are a strange group.

I saw some weird mannequins in a shop in Nuremberg. One had a very un-artfully executed mullet and one had a head tattoo. Weird, weird!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Roadside Candy Machines: RIP Ivan, in Idar-Oberstein

My family and I took a trip to Idar-Obertein and I saw this roadside candy machine-cigarette machine duo there. In an interesting change of pace, someone would also like us to know that Ivan should R.I.P. There are so many things going around at this particular machine.

It's Frankfurt Book Fair time again!

The Frankfurt Book Messe (Fair) is being held again this week. It's the world's largest book fair and has many fascinating things for the book lover to see and do. I wrote about my experience visiting it last year; click here to read more about what I saw and did there.

The Book Fair will be open again to everyone this upcoming weekend,  11-12 October.

Frankfurt Book Fair link with more information, in English.

An alarming Mahlzeit in Nuremberg

I saw this little delivery vehicle (car? scooter?) in Nuremberg. The cow is wearing a banner that says "Mahlzeit," which means "meal" or "meal time." I thought it was a bit warped (but funny, nonetheless).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cherub, cut that out!

Several years ago, we took a trip to Prague. We saw a statue with a cherub who looked as if he were teething on someone's foot. I'm curious if there's some significance to that, or if the sculptor just had a warped sense of humor. Maybe the cherub is kissing someone's foot.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Even better than roadside candy machines: Nuremberg

While we were visiting Nuremberg, I saw something really cool: a vending machine for art! One could buy what looked like small prints. The machine was labeled "art for all." Indeed.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Roadside Candy Machines: Nuremberg, Germany

I'm back after a bit of a busy hiatus necessitated by a wonderful visit from my family. We took a trip to Paris and tooled around Germany. During our visit to Nuremberg, I saw an interesting juxtaposition of a candy machine and a cigarette machine. I wonder if some young children will make some unhealthy and unconscious choices in the future because of this unfortunate placement.

One of the candies on offer was called "center shock mystery." I don't know; it just doesn't sound like a mystery that I'd be interested in experiencing.