Tuesday, October 31, 2017

October Highs and Lows 2017

The Reformation Day Edition

Today, October 31st, is Reformation Day, which is recognized by Protestants. On this day in 1517 Martin Luther allegedly nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, detailing his gripes with the Catholic church. In Germany this is normally a stiller Feiertag only in the predominantly Protestant states of Germany - namely the five states that were formerly the DDR (East Germany). Since this year it is 500 years since the cheeky monk officially began his protest which led to the Reformation, much bloodshed between Christians for generations thereafter, and the founding of a new religion, the day is recognized in the whole of Germany with the day off for nearly everyone.
Photo credit: my friend, D. Philipp

The bonus for us lucky bahstuds in the Catholic South is that tomorrow is also a stiller Feiertag - Allerheiligen, or All Saints' Day. We have, therefore, two days in a row off this week, which meant we had to plan ahead for meals with all stores closed Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.


  • starting the month with two days off. October 3rd is a national holiday - Tag der Deutschen Einheit, or Day of German Unity - and since it fell on a Tuesday this year, the VHS was closed also on Monday the 2nd for a "Brückentag" (bridge day). It's not that my work is so hard, teaching German to a really nice group of students four hours a day, but extra days off are just nice.

    Actually on Monday I visited the English class of a new acquaintance of mine in Nagold. He had been discussing with his class stereotypes Germans have of Americans and vice versa, and the students were able to ask me about what things are really like in the US. I enjoyed my visit and the topic!

    One of the students asked if if racism is a big problem in the US. What would you have answered?!?

  • attending the dance and theater performance of one of my students, who is very talented! He wrote and directed the show, designed and created the costumes and props, and was the principle performer. The other performers are friends of his. The performance depicted Syria's past, part mythology and part history, and the present war and especially its effect on children.

  • spending four days at the wellness hotel Engel-Obertal in the Black Forest for M's birthday. Saunas, steambaths, and relaxing during the day after a hearty but elegant breakfast, gourmet dinners in the evening...

  • a Greifvogel (birds of prey) demonstration at Burg Hohennagold. We just love owls!

  • a weekend visit by fellow blogger Mari and her pug Abner. We dined at Straub's Krone and stayed up way too late talking about every conceivable topic, and then chatted through the next day as well. We have a lot in common and much to talk about.
Abner teaches M how to play tug-o-war
M doesn't understand why Abner seems to really want the stuffed bear,
but then as soon as M lets go, he wants M to try to get it again.

I was flattered that Abner liked the blanket-bed
I made for him!
  • our 11th Kochkurs at Straub's Krone. The theme this time was "Genuss vom Wald und Feld" (Indulgence from forest and field). As usual everything was delicious and we had a fun group of co-chefs to cook with.
Vorspeise: Forellenfilet mit Petersilienbröselkruste,
Meerrettich Petersilienwurzel Salat & Kürbismayonnaise
Grünkohlsuppe mit Schmandschaum und
gebackene Wildfleisch Wan Tans
Hauptgang: Wildschweinrücken mit Quitten gegart,
geschmorte Karotten & gratinierte Kürbispolenta

Nachtisch: Käsekuchenmuffins, Apfelrose,
und Holunderbeereneis

the Ms dealing with the main course

  • ending the month with holidays as well - this week is Herbstferien or fall break, and today and tomorrow are stille Feiertage (see above). While I have the whole week off anyway, M can also be home today and tomorrow.


I've got nothin'. I don't remember even once saying to myself, "Well, that can go on my list of lows..." Granted, there's always the world news, but that's the case every month.

I hope you had a fine October and will enjoy November. And hopefully you had as few lows in October as I did!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Expat / Immigrant Qs

I've done more teaching, reading, and creating review worksheets for my students than writing lately. I've wanted to write a blog post but lacked the inspiration. Today I read Confuzzledom's recent post in which she answered questions she found on another blog (Kristen's, but I don't know who Kristen is), and since I've almost finished preparing for class tomorrow, I thought I'd take a break and blog instead of nap.

Although I don't mind the label "Expat," it would be more accurate to call me an immigrant. To me "expat" suggests the person will one day return to her passport country, but for me this was a permanent move.

1. Where were you born, where did you grow up, and where do you currently live?

I was born in a place that no longer exists. Doesn't that sound fantastically mysterious?!?! I was born on K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Upper Michigan, but it was decomissioned in 1995. Apparently there's a small airport there today, and an unincorporated community. So I guess technically is does still exist (the story was better before I learned that).

I grew up in  Sheboygan, Wisconsin USA, my family having moved there when I was three. I now live near Horb, Germany, and I plan to stay here until...well, you know. 
Sheboygan, on the shore of Lake Michigan
Photo credit: M

Horb, Germany, in the Neckar Valley

2. What made you leave your home country?

In 2006 I married a German (lovingly referred to as M in this blog), and in 2012 - after six years of living on different continents - I moved to Germany to be with him. Nothing made me leave, however; I wanted to. Or rather, I wanted to live in Germany with him.

3. What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?

I never tell people where I am from unless there is an obvious need for them to know. When I start teaching a new class, for instance, it is important to tell my students that I am a foreigner like they are, and "we're in this together!" But otherwise I never volunteer my nationality.

When someone asks - and they often do politely by saying they notice an accent - I am honest. Most people respond with interest and like to talk about the US. It's also not uncommon for people to ask early in a conversation what I think about #45. I still have to practice "egregious narcissistic sociopath" in German so it rolls off my tongue comfortably, but they often get the idea by the look on my face alone.

4. What was the easiest / hardest part of adjusting to your new country?

Nothing was difficult for me - not even the paperwork. I had been to Germany twenty-or-so times before staying each time for several weeks, and I had long wanted to make the permanent move. My parents, kids, and two friends knew for more than six years that I would eventually be moving overseas, and therefore we were able to make the most of that time, appreciate the togetherness, and say good-bye without any drama.

5. Sounds, smells, words, and images that sum up the expat [immigrant] experience you've had so far?

Food noises (the sounds I make when taking my first bite of Ziegenkäse im Speckmantel (bacon-wrapped goat cheese)) because I have been absolutely spoiled by the way we eat here, chain saws on Saturdays, the Swabian dialect, fresh Black Forest air, lavender, rosemary, thyme, Kartoffelpufferpfannenfett because it's a fun word, love, travel, public transportation, and daily gratitude. Some images follow.

der Wochenmarkt

There it is - Ziegenkäse im Speckmantel!

Christmas Markets

Beautiful towns - Tübingen, here

my Syrian & Eritrean friends

6. Your favorite food or drink item in your new country?

As if that wasn't already clear... but since the Ziegenkäse just a starter, I'll also mention lamb stew (Irish rather than German; we have a delicious recipe), Zwiebelrostbraten, and Kässpätzle. For a beverage it's carbonated water during the day and Grauburgunder (a dry white wine) in the evening.

7. What's the one thing you said "yes" to in your new city town that you wouldn't say "yes" to back home?

Riding public transportation. Can I toss in a few more? Taking a guided walking tour of the town, walking home from downtown, and skipping church on Easter Sunday.

8. Are there any cultural norms or phrases in your new country which you cannot stand?

I could do without all the hand-shaking; I guess I prefer the American acknowledging wave (which comes across as dismissive to Germans). At the same time, with people I genuinely like, the handshake (and even a hug sometimes) is nice.

9. What do you enjoy doing most in your new country?

How much time do you have? Traveling, hiking, walking, breathing, talking, teaching, dining, reading, learning...

10. Will you ever move home for good?

I already have.