Monday, November 30, 2015

November Highs and Lows 2015

Hello again, friendly readers. We come to the end of another month, and that means I recap my highs and lows of the last 29 days.

The obvious low was the terrorist attack in Paris on Friday the 13th. I am so sick of people killing each other, especially in the name of God. People of all religions consider their god all-powerful and all-knowing, right? I am no theologian, but I am very confident that a GOD does not need puny humans to do His work for Him. If He wants people to die (which I am unconvinced He does), He has the power to take care of that Himself. I do not believe He wanted Catholics to kill Protestants and vise versa generations ago, and I do not believe the Christian God or the Muslim Allah want their followers to kill each other - no matter how much nutball humans twist the holy books.

But on to happier things. I love November in Germany. It begins with my birthday and ends with Christmas markets!!!! The air is crisp and cool, the leaves are raked, I've unpacked my winter clothes, and my warmest winter Federbett is on my bed. I burrow into that thing like a hibernating hedgehog.


  • Of course we went to Straub's Krone for a birthday buffet lunch.
Starters - there are samplings of 13 different dishes on my plate. All delicious!
The one at 6:00 is cow tongue.

I actually chose the vegetarian option that day:
Tagliatelle mit  Steinpilzrahmsoße / Tagliatelle with Porcino-Cream-Sauce

and the dessert samplings
  • I made the Quittenchutney from our Kochkurs to go with pork tenderloin, and it turned out ok!
ingredients for quince chutney
  • I also baked a Rührkuchen (pound cake) from scratch. Yeah I know, big deal. Who can screw that up? But after my apple pie failure (see below), this was very satisfying.

  • spending a weekend in Breisach with a fabulous and fun branch of M's family for the 80th birthday of their Oma (M's father's cousin).

  • meeting fellow American expat blogger Adventures of La Mari, her husband, and their Mops at the Hohentwiel ruins in Singen. So much fun!
Abner, the Mops
fabulous ruins
  • participating in the first annual Worldwide Read a Terhune Book day. Albert Payson Terhune was one of my favorite writers when I was a child. He is most famous for writing stories about collies and is responsible for my adoration of the breed.

  • dinner at our neighbors' house. I cannot believe I didn't take any photos, at least of the food! It was delicious - venison pate, salad with PfifferlingeZweierlei venison, the most delicious Rotkohl I've ever tasted, mashed potatoes, poached pears, and two different kinds of gluten-free brownies I baked and brought for dessert.

  • joining the Freundeskreis Asyl Horb and getting involved (finally) with local efforts to help the refugees. This was in response to my second "low" of the month (see below). In the last 10 days I have met Syrian refugees in the area, worked with a class of 15 or so who have just started learning German, had coffee with refugees and other volunteers which is a weekly thing, and offered to help translate the Freundeskreis website into English as soon as it's up and running (few refugees arrive here knowing German, but some know enough English that a translation could be helpful).

  • watching this late night clip, and this one, and especially this one. I am starting to think that the best way to catch up on American news is to watch the Daily Show and the Late Show.


  • my first attempt at baking an American-style Apple Pie. It might look almost ok, but it was a total failure and, in fact, inedible.
  • coming across several Facebook posts by Americans I know ("liked" by other Americans I know) crying out to refuse Syrian refugees in America or their particular U.S. state. I came to the realization that such people are simply terrified of the "what ifs," and there's no reasoning with fear. That doesn't mesh well with the whole "...home of the brave" business, or with the spirit of joy, love, and giving at Christmastime, or with the notion of coming together and sharing bounty at Thanksgiving, or with the Golden Rule, but fear is a crazy, debilitating thing.

  • reading about the various GOP (Grand Ole Party = Republican) presidential hopefuls and their visions of the world. What in holy hell is going on over there, folks? The pyramids were built to store grain? Muslims should be rounded up, registered, and perhaps have some kind of marking put on their clothes to identify them? Rabid dogs? Bad peanuts? Admitting only refugees who practice the right religion? And all this time, they're squealing like halfwit children in a poopy sandbox over 10,000 refugees in one year (more than 4 million Syrians have been displaced by war since 2011). 

Other Moments

  • While in Breisach, M and I went into a vinothek to purchase a bottle or two of wine to enjoy that evening. We were assisted by the owner, who was incredibly helpful and friendly. She asked what we like, broke open a few bottles for us to taste, suggested others... M considered out loud going up the hill to get our car so we could transport several bottles home. The owner said if we buy at least 2 cases, she'd drive them up to our hotel after closing. Tempting! Then she happened to mention that shipping is free starting at 5 cases. €310 later, we walked up the hill to our hotel with our two bottles of wine, a Corkcicle wine chiller, and a fancy red wine pouring thingy, happily anticipating the arrival of the rest of the wine the following week.

  • A new friend (who is my daughter's age and decided right about the same time I did to jump in and get involved with the Freundeskreis Asyl) and I sat in on a German intro class to observe, and the teacher included us in every activity. It was really enjoyable! The students were all refugees from Syria between the ages of about 20 and 55, and as with every class, some students learn faster than others. The faster ones helped the others with either quick explanations in Arabic or telling them what to say. They struggled, they laughed, they volunteered to go to the board for a writing activity, they listened, they took notes, they gave their best efforts, and they were clearly proud when they did or said something correctly. Some had studied outside of class, and others hadn't. If there was a difference between that class and every class I have ever taught, I didn't notice it - except that they were all adults and classroom management was not an issue! I loved it.

I hope you all had a good month, too, with more highs than lows, more love than fear, and more joy than pain.


  1. I love how many of your highs are food related. :-D That dessert selection looks yummy!

    1. It's a little embarrassing, actually, how many of my highs each month center on food! Just wait til I join the Foodies Penpal exchange... :-)