Well, I'm in Oregon visiting my folks and extended family and friends. Highlights from the last week:
* Trying on a shirt in a Maine mall, when my daughter suddenly exclaimed, "Mom, what's that huge black mole on your back?!" I examined my "mole" in the mirror, and shrieked when I saw its tiny wiggling legs. Somehow, I'd picked up a tick while walking the backroads of rural Maine. For the next hour I gritted my teeth and tried not to think of blood-sucking bugs while I drove home to the inlaws and got Jeff to pull the tick off carefully with tweezers. Now I need to watch for symptoms of Lyme disease, but I think my critter was a wood tick, not a deer tick, so that's fortunate.
* My first full day in Oregon, I walked into a Safeway store and asked my mother, "What in the world is that?" as I pointed to the grocery cart. She peered in and then told me, "Laurie, that's a cup-holder. Haven't you seen them before?" Ahhhh. Remember, in Germany, most of the cars don't have cup-holders, and none of the grocery carts do! (It's illegal to drink or eat while driving in Germany. Also against the law for the driver to talk on a cell phone) Funny moment there, and I realized it's indeed been awhile since I've lived in the States..
* Have I said that I adore the abundance of coffee shops in Oregon?? Free wireless, indie music, and shelves of books in English.
* I do miss the network of bike trails and well-constructed walking paths in Germany. Oregon's one of the better states in terms of bike-friendliness and pedestrian awareness, but I had to walk from the urgent care clinic where my tetanus shot was updated, and trekked over broken concrete, barkdust, and a few blocks of mediocre sidewalk.
*Dad's picking fresh Hood strawberries for us to feast on each day--the best breakfast on earth.