Monday, April 6, 2015

My week: April 5 Easter ed.

This was my week "off," i.e. with no classes and no language cafe.

-I met with my tandem partner. To practice English, we watched the episode with President Obama in Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis. I didn't realize just how many idioms that we use in everyday English until I spent quite a bit of time explaining what the speakers meant. My friend also started watching the Ellen Degeneres show to help with her English. She made a good choice; the show is generally upbeat and the level of English is not too high. Plus, Ellen speaks Standard American English (which is or is not a thing, depending on what linguist you ask, I suppose).

-I hung out with some friendly dogs. I forgot just how slobbery dogs can be but was amused how they like to "smoosh" me like Moo the Cat does (i.e. sitting on me companionably).

-My friends who live in Neustadt came out to visit. I took them to the Ramstein Air Base because C had a hankering for Taco Bell. K never had eaten it before but liked it. They continued on to Saarland and to Luxembourg while I worked on some things at home. Later, they returned for dinner and we ate at Safari, an Ethiopian restaurant in Kaiserslautern. They agreed that it was excellent and we stuffed ourselves silly. I introduced them to the concept of a "food baby," where one eats so much that one feels pregnant.

We waddled back to my house; they were staying for the weekend because we were going to spend Easter together. I told them that they could allow Moo to stay in their room or not. They chose the Moo option and laughed about the experience the next morning. Apparently he purred in their faces as they were sleeping; walked on them; stood on C, stabbing him with his paws and trying to fluff C's side up like a pillow before sleeping on him; and laid on their feet. This is standard Moocat behavior and part of the reason that I don't let him stay with me when I sleep (the other half is that I'm too allergic to him). Despite Moo's demanding behavior, C and K were totally taken by Moo and are new members of his informal fan club.

-I cooked an American-style Easter breakfast of bacon, eggs, and French toast casserole (based on this recipe). K, who is Romanian, was curious about the French toast since she makes a version too. Her version is more savory, with bread soaked in egg and a pinch of salt and then fried in a pan. That got us wondering: is French toast even remotely French or is it just a name that was tacked onto it? Are French people out there, rolling their eyes? (I know that I roll my eyes at the German take on "American" sandwich spread, which they imagine as a tube of mayo streaked with ketchup, something we don't do.) Either way, C and K loved the casserole. I joked that we were going to have food baby twins.

-K shared a story about a Romanian Easter tradition, prevalent in Transylvania. On Easter Monday, the women clean their houses really well, dress up, and welcome male family and friends to drop by. The women prepare cakes and eggs. When the men arrive at the front door, they spray the women with perfume and give greetings. It has something to do with keeping the women from "wilting" and is refreshing for them, to bring luck. The women give the men cakes and eggs. K said it's amusing to see grown men going house to house, carrying their baskets or bags of eggs and cakes. It seems like a cousin of trick or treating!

Apparently the men used to pour water on the women but after much consternation on the part of the women, the men started using perfume instead. As someone who has allergies, I could imagine that could be overwhelming to be doused in perfume!

-After lunch, we hiked from the technical university to the Humbergturm, in the southern woods bordering Kaiserslautern. It's a nice, reasonably easy hike that takes about 45 minutes one way. C was teasing me, noting that we could have just driven to the Bremerhof restaurant and hiked from there, which is shorter. It never dawns on me to go that way but I like the added 10 minutes of hiking from the uni.

As we were walking through the woods, we were struck by the damage from Hurricane Niklas earlier in the week. Usually this area of Germany doesn't have severe weather but for several days, it was pummeled by rain and wind storms. Trees in the woods were snapped in half and the forestry service had been busy clearing the aftermath, as evidenced by the stacked rows of cut trees.

Large tree snapped in half, near the Bremerhof.
We reached the goal of hiking to the Humbergturm. The trails were quite busy; many locals were out enjoying the pleasant, sunny weather. C and K climbed the tower, took pictures, and we hiked back. I saw this cool wolf painted on a tree on our way.

We said goodbye after the hike and I wished them well on their journey home. It was a pleasant and relaxing Easter spent in good company.

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