Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Important People

August 27th is a special day. My mom and Jeff's mom both celebrate their birthdays today. So, Happy Birthday, Mom! Since I can't be there in person, I'll drink a cup of Burundi tea in your honor.

Also, I was in the States during July and didn't get a chance to tell Danielle, our oldest, Happy Birthday on this blog. So here's one for you, Dani. You're an amazing young woman and I love you! Also, I appreciate your moments of silliness, like dressing up in Anna's old Halloween costume (poodle skirt and all) and shooting funny pics in the backyard. Miss you and hope you enjoy your senior year in college. Let me know how German 1 and Swahili 1 turn out.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

This Summer

This summer I:
* Flew on a long trip to Oregon and for the first time felt as if I needed to use the handy "motion discomfort bag" provided by my airline (fortunately, I recovered, and saved the unused bag for a gag birthday bag).
* Bicycled more than I ever have before in my life. It helped that Bruhl, the town I cycled through most often, has an Italian gelato shop with the best Malaga ice cream around (a rich egg custard ice cream flavored with rum and raisins, for the uninitiated). Also, it didn't hurt that Germany has an astounding array of bike trails in all directions.
* Neglected to vacuum up dog hair often enough. As a result, Jeff, the kids, and I sometimes find corgi hair in our cookies, our bath water, and our suitcases. We like to say that Murphy, our corgi, will remain with us long after his eventual death...the omnipresent hair, that is.
* Took a ferry to Victoria, Canada, where the customs lady almost turned my daughter and me away, because I didn't have a note from "the other parent" authorizing me to take Anna (13 years old) out of the country. That, after we'd already flown from Germany to the US!

That's all for now. Lightning interrupts my thinking. Maybe there will be more tomorrow.

Tick Tack, Cuckoo

A few weeks ago, Jeff and I visited Triberg. We ate at a restaurant called the Tick Tack Stube, near our hotel. My food was ok--the standard cheese, pork and blumenkohl (cauliflower) with brown sauce. But what made my evening memorable? Our waiter.

First of all, when he came for our order, I got flustered trying to track down my choice among pages and pages of entree options. "It's ok!" our waiter smiled, and waved his hands broadly, as if calming troubled waters. After a sigh, I relaxed. While we waited for the food, Jeff and I checked out the wall of cuckoo clocks behind us, ready to go off in unison at any minute.

Soon, a German family walked in and took a nearby table. The same waiter approached and chatted with them for a few moments. He made a special fuss over the two kids, finding them suitable chairs and explaining the menu at length. Finally, they ordered and he brought out drinks, staying to converse longer.

Then, it turned seven o'clock, and the clocks on the wall began their show. One after another, each opened, cuckooed the time, and wound down. Every bird sounded slightly different--some whistled with a high pitch, others as if they'd finally made it through puberty. I simultaneously wanted to clap my hands over my ears and to beat on cymbals, the noise was so deafening and exhilarating. Afterwards, the two children called the waiter, gesturing and waving their arms. It was obvious they were excited about the cuckoo clocks and wanted to see more.

Mr. Waiter beckoned them over to the back wall, near us. Then he leaped up on the cushioned bench seat and began to reset each clock. He wound the hands around so that each one would strike the hour again. Pulled the metal weights hanging below, tricked the clocks into the future.

And then it began. Ding! Dong! Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo! A whole wall of sound. Little wooden figures slid out of Alpine houses and danced in circles, then returned to the inner workings of their clocks. A carved rooster crowed the time. Painted cows grazed in laquered grass. And the children's faces... Our waiter looked on like a child himself, delighting in their glee. Finally the cuckoos were cuckooed out, and all was quiet again.

I don't think I've enjoyed a meal so very much in a long time.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Crossing the Border

Last Sunday, after a night in Triberg, Jeff and I crossed the border into Colmar, France. A few pictures from that visit:

Flowers everywhere...
Interesting smells on the cobblestones.
Crême glacée and warm coconut macaroons!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Saturday, Jeff and I drove south a few hours to Triberg, a small town in the Black Forest, where we spent the night. We hiked up to the waterfall, which reminded me somewhat of Multnomah Falls in Oregon. One thing that astounds me often in Germany--the large numbers of young men out hiking with lit cigarettes dangling from their mouths and a trail of smoke in their wake. Enhanced lung capacity? Huh.
On the way down, we stopped in at an open-air museum with farm houses built during the 1600s and later. Can't you imagine Heidi prancing down this slope?
Quite a nice weekend. We wanted to take advantage of big sister's presence to watch Anna, since leaving a thirteen year old alone for twenty-four hours is not a wise move. David is off backpacking in the Alps near Berchtesgaden, so he's on his own adventure.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Happy Birthday, Spidey!

生日快乐, 蜘蛛
с днем рождения к вам
alles Gute zum Geburtstag liebes spidey,
joyeux anniversaire !

To someone who impresses me with her love of languages and for the way she cares deeply about people.
Have a wonderful Spider-mas. Wish I could drop by for a coffee with you!

Friday, August 04, 2006

For Jeff

I'm happy to be home in Germany again with my family. This poem is for Jeff:


Strolling the Hauptstrasse, baguettes
and brotchen in the basket, your hand
on my arm. The fine glinting
spokes of a bicycle passing, pebbles
sparking. We struck fire too, you and I,
through children, taxes, the cold frost
mornings in Oregon, cut emerald
lawns. Not an inferno—fire
trucks clustered, globe lights flashing—
but the warm center of a midnight
campfire, hands toasted over open
coals, the melted goo of a marshmallow
coating your scalded, pink tongue.