Monday, September 29, 2014

September Highs and Lows

In August I briefly tried a weekly update based on an idea from another blogger, but after three of those I decided to change to what I used to do with my kids at dinner (yes, my kids and I had dinner together most evenings even when they were teenagers!). I'd ask them "What was your high today?" and "What was your low today?" Come to think of it, I may start that with them again despite the distance and that they are both in college. Highs and Lows: Facebook edition, perhaps.

Anyway, I thought for blog purposes I'd keep track of my highs and lows for the month, and publish at the end. So here we go...


  • Spending a long weekend in Vienna with my Schwiegermutter, where we met my parents who were there celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. It was fabulous! My parents were on a cruise with a group of friends from Sheboygan and several relatives, so in addition to it being a special occasion, it was fun to see 12 other people I knew from "back home" as well!

  • While standing in the middle of a square in Vienna studying our map, I happened to see a group of people walk past us with "Esslinger Feuerwehr" (Esslingen Fire Department) on the backs of their jackets! As I pointed that out to my Schwiegermutter, three of them turned around and looked back because they had recognized us!*  Those "small world" experiences always blow my mind. The number of things that had to happen at exactly the right time for us to bump into each other in a huge city...

  • During my Schwiegermutter's "Fun with English" (adult) course, one gentleman said to me, "You don't really speak like an American. I can understand you." My British Schwiegermutter replied, "Oh yes, although she's American, she speaks very good English!"  :-)

  • Receiving nine emails from my son, who has started college for real. He took classes last year at the local UW-extension, but now he's living in a dorm with a great roommate and doing well!

  • Finally - after five failed attempts this summer - participating in a guided city tour of Horb!

  • Trying a new roast beef recipe, which turned out to be delicious - due mainly to my husband's skills in the kitchen. It was equally good the next day, even cold.

  • Reading other expat bloggers' posts about traveling, everyday life, adventures, frustrations and successes. I still get excited when I see that someone on my "blog roll" has published something new, and we sometimes comment on each others' posts. Hm...I'm enjoying connecting with people. This is new...

  • Finding a message buried in Facebook from a former German exchange student (2004). She wrote to me in March, but I never noticed the "other" tab in the messages section of Facebook! I've finally responded and hopefully we'll connect. This was not a student who lived with us - rather she attended the school where I was teaching and was a student in my English (American Literature) class.

  • Dining twice at our favorite local restaurant and finding out the chef is doing another Kochkurs (cooking class) this fall.

Bäckchen vom Jungschwein in Schnittlauchrahmsauce mit Gemüse und Bratkartoffeln
Cheeks of a young pig in chive sauce with vegetables and fried potatoes

  • Sunday afternoon naps on the sofa during Formula-1 races. Who am I kidding? Afternoon naps on the sofa even on non-Sundays.

  • Watching this 10-minute clip of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I find him (usually) so darn funny, and I do miss his show.

  • An impromptu train ride to Stuttgart just to bum around the Big City. I explored places in the city I had not seen before - which isn't surprising considering that, other than my nature walk a few weeks ago, I have hardly strayed off the main Fußgängerzone (Königstraße). I'm getting more interested each time I go to Stuttgart!


  • While in Stuttgart I actually went shopping! This is unusual for me because I really don't like to shop except for books. I bought a new fall jacket and a pair of shoes I think even my daughter would approve of. And some books.

  • Martin made Wiener Schnitzel - the real thing, with veal rather than the pork we usually use. Holy heavens, it was amazing! Unfortunately veal is more expensive than pork €27 ($34) per kilogram versus €12 ($15) at our local butcher, but since the veal needs to be thinner than the pork, the actual price difference between 4 Schweineschnitzel (€6) and 4 Kalbschnitzel (€10,50) is negligible. Consider also that the Wiener Schnitzel my dad had in Vienna cost €23 and the fact that we got 4 meals (2 for each) out of what we bought that day...I can hardly count all the highs in this paragraph!!

  • Starting to discuss with Martin a trip back to the Isle of Mull in Scotland for 2015.
Glengorm Castle, where we were married

The view from our quarters


  • Hm. Uh...

  • Ok, got one! Changing back to my fall Federbett (down comforter) on September 1st after using my summer Federbett for less than one month. That's not really a low either, though, because it's so wonderfully cuddly!

  • Learning that cappuccino is spelled that way and not "cappucino," and wondering how many times I've spelled it incorrectly in previous blog posts.

  • Missing a response from the editor of our local paper asking if he could publish my feedback in the next day's edition because his email had ended up in my spam folder.  :-(

On the horizon for October...

  • We have nothing major planned. I'll be teaching the Englisch-AG twice a week and chaperoning the Lebenshilfe group three times total including a day outing to Freudenstadt.

  • Sleeping in on October 3rd because it's Tag der Deutschen Einheit - the Day of German Unity - a national holiday. Even M will take most of the day off!

  • Hoping to get in a walk from M's mother's place to the Grabkapelle (funerary chapel) Rotenberg, situated on a hill overlooking Stuttgart. This is a walk I fondly remember from my exchange student days. I remembered it being a several-hours walk through lush forests and fields. Google maps (which we didn't have back in 1986) tells me it takes about 45 minutes. Hm.

  • Most likely a day trip to Tübingen, since I've been itching to get back there.

  • Getting some serious writing done! I hit a slump in the summer when I had plenty of time and no excuses, and now it's time to get going again.

  • Yard work.

*I wish I had a great and funny story about why the Esslingen firefighters recognized us, but it's just this: the Feuerwehr hosted a group of visitors from Sheboygan, Wisconsin earlier this summer, and my Schwiegermutter and I accompanied and assisted the group.

What were your highs and lows this month?


  1. The castle where you got married in Scotland is breathtaking! Scotland is definitely on my 'must visit' list one day.

    1. Our trips to Mull and the highlands were before my blogging days. If I ever start blogging about Scotland, I might never stop. Needless to say, I highly recommend a trip there. My heart beats quicker just thinking about it.

  2. My husband keeps meaning to try proper Wiener Schnitzel before we move back to the states. Unfortunately, he's married to me, a mostly-vegetarian. I keep telling him to just go somewhere and get one with a friend, but he seems reluctant to actually organizing it. Honestly, I might just email one of our friends and tell him to take my husband out for dinner.

    Speaking of small world experiences... a couple of years ago my husband, a friend and I visited a few cities in Belgium. We were sitting in this really neat craft beer bar in Antwerp called Kulminator, when we started talking to the couple next to us who were from New Jersey. A swedish couple joined in a few minutes later, and it was a nice evening talking about beer and travel.

    A few days later we were in the Grand Place in Brussels and ran into the New Jersey couple again!

    1. What he really needs to learn before moving to the U.S. is how to make ghee (Butterschmalz). It's time-consuming but easy, and ghee costs a flipping TON there. A jar 1/3 the size of our tubs here costs 5 times the price. It's ridiculous. There's so much fat in American meat, though, that except for proper Schnitzel, Butterschmalz is never needed. If I were ever to move back, I might consider becoming a vegetarian, too.

      Aren't those "small world" experiences fabulous?!

  3. Am I invited back to Mull?!?!?

    1. This time it won't be during the summer, and Sorne is booked up the entire year. It will probably be just the two of us this time in a "sleeps 2" cottage, though you know we love to travel with you!

  4. Cold roast beef sandwiches the day after a roast dinner are the BEST!