Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Week Eight: Fairs and the Flintstones.

Oh wow, what a week! It's been one adventure after another, and some of them peril-fraught and resulting in injuries! For instance, on Friday, while helping my littlest sister unpack, I ended up injuring my back bad enough that I couldn't go into work! I could barely stand, let alone walk, and not without considerable pain.

On Saturday, much recovered, if still hurting some, we went to a medieval market. This is, in essence, a Renn Faire. I love Renn Faires! It was an absolute blast, the jousting, an amusing competition between different knights, and several horribly mismatched horses. What am I talking about you ask?

Well, you had a thoroughbred up there, a draft horse, a pony, an arabian horse made fo wood, on wheels, with two men dragging it. I kid you not. It was hilarious, because this was supposed to be the 'bad' knight. I couldn't understand a word they were saying, as it was all in German, but I didn't need to. It was great fun all the same.

There was, of course, food and goodies there as well, and lots of people dressed up, cause in costume you get in for free, like at most Renn faires. From vikings to medieval maidens, to one tiny dragon toddler, there were a great many costumes.

I think the entire family had fun there, and I ended up buying a handflower, which is a ring connected by chain to a bracelet and is quite pretty. We all enjoyed ourselves quite a bit, but had to go home early due to the fourteen-year-old's injury. She was trying to walk on stilts. I would have been satisfied if I could just stand on them, which I couldn't but she was trying to walk. Then she fell, and landed very badly. She even left a small dent.

Well, she sprained her ankle, so couldn't walk. She got to be pretty could at hopping though, and her new name is Hopper. Or Gimpy. Hopper is more fun, and reminds me of Thumper.

So we went home and relaxed. The next day I had work, and got sent home after about two hours for nearly fainting in the drive thru. Perhaps I'm not quite ready to return yet. That was highly embarassing. I mean, really self, that's not a good thing at all. I'm just fine now so no worries.

So, on Tuesday, my dad took the littlest to work. I'm sure they had a great time doing something ro another, but I didn't really ask. It's just good that they spent time together. When my dad got home, we all got ready for fun!

That's right....

Bumper bowling!

Let me tell you, I suck at regular bowling. I mean, I make eight year olds look great, and I know, because the littlest beat me. I could probably make a five year old look like a pro. But bumper bowling? Bumper bowling!

It doesn't matter on bumper bowling, because I am so much better there. I still suck, but that doesn't matter because you have bumpers, and you know what bumpers are used for? Bouncing. And there is very little more fun in bowling than bouncing the bowling ball off of the bumpers.

I had a blast! The played 80s and 90s music, so there was, yes, singing along to it. And they didn't play the stupid 90s teenybopper music, which made me happy, because so many places friendly means teeny bopper right?

Does not! Don't lie! Get the teeny bopper music away. I'm not a small child to actually enjoy it. For that matter I didn't enjoy it when I was a small child.

I remember a friend with some celebs face on her shirt once in elementary. Oh was she ever proud of it. Yeah, our friendship had a rocky slide down from pretty much that point Littler me called the shirt, and the singer on it, stupid, after cluelessly asking who it was, and why on earth was she wearing a man on her stomach?

I....still don't get that. Why would anyone wear a celebrity on their stomach? Or their chest, or back, or anywhere really? Seems a bit silly. Always has. Much like teeny bopper music, which brings me right back around to the excellent time I had bowling!

It was the littlest, the middlest and me along with my dad of course, bowling and having fun! There was drama, there were Twinkletoes Flintstone impressions! There were really bad dances lead up to the toss!

All in all it was a hilarious gut busting time full of fun. The littlest apparently enjoys having more than one bowling balls, by the way. It meant that frequently, we'd find a matching bowling ball for ourselves as well, and we kept having to put it back.

One Final Byte: Little sisters are dangerous when armed with toys.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Week Seven: Power Outages, Sisters, and Birthdays

Power Outages, Sisters, and Birthdays

This has been an eventful week! You really don't think a week's been eventful unless something huge has happened normally, but writing this blog has shown me I live an adventure filled life, if nothing else.

This week, everything saved itself up for Tuesday (And Wednesday-morning). I've noticed it has a tendency to save itself up for Tuesdays. They seem to be something special in the week. Now, I would start on last Wednesday, except I can't, because then my end would be my beginning and that is just confusing. So I suppose I should start on some point last week (I still don't know exactly) which was my little sister's 14th birthday. I had work, so couldn't celebrate with her, but I did manage to celebrate with her on Tuesday.

We hung out together, and for once didn't argue once, though there was a lot of playful pushing. We didn't even get on each other's nerves, which considering us is somewhat of a miracle. I suspect the minor emergency the two of us had in the middle certainly helped!

We started the day out hanging out of course. We had planned for about a week to just have a day on the base together. Head to the movies and I'd buy her a book, then we'd eat at burger king. Beyond that, we'd wander around the mall, possibly swim suit sizing for her.

Well, we bought the tickets, then I went to go buy a cell phone. At the bx, you have to show your ID to buy things. I couldn't find mine. I searched my purse and it was gone. We traced our steps-except for going back to the theater.

In a panic, we raced a mile away to the car. Not there, we resolved to first watch the movie, then had to run back. Amazingly we made it all of one minute before the movie was supposed to start...and the movie started late of course.

Still, we had made it! And when I went to ask, hopefully, if someone had turned in an ID card, yes, the theater had it. Emergency averted.

What movie did we watch? Hanna! Would I watch it again: Oh yes!

Hanna was truly excellent, and had me on the edge of my seat, laughing, heartbroken, and wondering. It's better than some books I've read, which from me is high praise, and I'd love to read it one day as a proper book and not a movie turned into a book. There is a distinct difference.

Why was losing my ID card such a big deal. Well, I work on base. And without the ID card, not only can I buy nothing, I cannot get on base, so I cannot, you know, get to work. This Is A Bad Thing. Plus they can demand your ID card at any time, and if you don't get it, there are some Serious Consequences.

So after the movie, we went to go buy the book. Of course the sister bought Rainbow Valley (She loves Anne of Green Gables books.), and something by Nicholas Sparks. After that we ate out at her favorite fast food joint, and hung out a while more, buying our dad something for Father's Day.

But Father's Day was Sunday! You protest mentally as you read the above. Well yes, I counter, but Daddy was TDY. That means He was Temporarily Deployed something-that-starts-with-a-Y-and-means-Elsewhere. He was in America to be exact at some sort of thing that I don't know a single thing about. When he returned, he brought back my littlest sister with him! They arrived back this morning, and is why I couldn't start out with the fact that he was TDY, and wow has getting to and from work been interesting the past ten days. I owe a huge thanks to my co-workers for being so very wonderful.

It was an adventure! Because I had to wait on my co-workers some nights, there were times I didn't get back home until 2 am. I get off at 11.30, but only if my ride is there to pick me up, and when your ride is working also...

Well, let's just say it was full of fun times, and I got to discover how much of a team my shift really is. We've got each others backs!

I haven't seen my littlest sister in years, so I'm totally going to spend time with her this week. She's a little PC gamer as far as I can tell so far.. I may be grossly wrong, but she is pretty awesome, either way.

Oh! And you're probably wondering why the blog is out a couple of hours later than normal? Well it's been storming like crazy here, and this town's power goes out at least once, for a few minutes, in Every Single Thunderstorm. It's interesting, if nothing else, dealing with the power outages that occur so often. I have to reset my clock constantly.

One Final Byte: June is not a warm month here sadly.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Week Six: They are Real! (And Wine)

Week Six: They are Real! (And Wine)

I've had a pretty fun week here! My travel is fairly limited by work of course, but beyond that I've had a lot of fun. No need to travel far to get the culture when you live in a foreign country! Let's see. The first most exciting thing this week threw me squarely back into 'This must be a movie!' mode. Who here has seen Mary Poppins?

All of you, I should hope! It's an excellent movie, and it comes in book form too, as I understand it. Now here's a better question: Who here has not seen a chimney sweep?

We all loved Bert, and let me tell you, I have met a chimney sweep! Mind you, we don't have a chimney here, but once a year, a chimney sweep visits every German household. We pay ten dollars a month to cover this once a year visit, and his whole job is to come in and check the heating.

Well, there's something up with our heater apparently. So I get to see a chimney sweep, not once, but twice this year! Twice!

I am very excited. I cannot wait for the second visit. It does help that our chimney sweep is very nice, and very cute.

Let's happened a wine tasting, which was much more fun and a lot less drunk than I thought it would be. In our area of Germany, mostly white wine is made, though there's red wine made too. I got to try eight types of wine, and I think there may be a second wine tasting in the future, where I actually buy some wine.

It was a lot of fun, even for the non-drinking under the legal age sister of mine. She had tons of fun watching after two little kids, and is going to make a great baby sitter I can tell. I had lots of fun watching the presentation and talking with our guests afterward.

Mind you, I hated every single second of preparing for a bunch of strange people I don't know coming over, but in the end it turned out alright. Still very awkward, but alright.

We tried seven types of wine, learned about the process, and how wines are graded. This all being German wine...I only know the meaning in German! Sorry guys.

The wine we tried was from 2008-2009, and was all produced at the vineyard it was grown at. All of them were white wine except for one, a blush. This particular winery apparently prefers making sweeter wine. Then again, white wine is normally sweeter!

We did learn that the sweetness, like the alcohol content, all depends on how it is produced, not necessarily what it came from. There was on halfdry, which was good, one medium, which I liked, two mild, and three sweets. They were all very good, and in the end, my dad, step-mom, and I determined which ones we liked the best and bought enough wine to last a very long time.

We also learned that wine is best when it is younger than 15 years old, and that it takes experience to actually enjoy older wines. Once it is in the bottle, it no longer ferments, but after about 10-15 years the taste begins to change.

At the end of the wine tasting, we all had a particularly delicious treat, if we wanted. After beign warned that it was extremely sweet, we were allowed perhaps a shot full of ice wine.

Mmmm, delicious. I loved it, and yes, that is one of the bottles we bought. It's an amazing wine, and one I hope to have on my next birthday, though then I'll buy my own bottle!

One Final Byte: Sisters fight and adore together, to parents' horror.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Week Five: The Importance of Good Shoes and Fun Windows

Okay, so I admit, not much happened this week. I didn't even look around town! To be fair, it was my first week of work and my shoes sucked.

What's that have to do with the price of rice in China you ask? Well, it's simple. My feet hurt too much to walk around town. Read closely, and don’t' skip a word.

I had old black non-slips from an old job. I should have known better as there were no insole inserts in them, but I went with the flow, and figured that I'd get new shoes with my paycheck. I came in on an odd week, which seems usual for me, so it would be a three week period before I got paid, but eh, three weeks isn't long.

Oh. Oh was I ever wrong. Three weeks is a really, really long time when your shoes deserve to be burned.

At the end of the first day, I was okay, I suppose. My feet hurt, but I had just been on them for eight hours, so thought nothing of it. The second day my feet hurt more, and I figured I just wasn't in the swing of things yet as I tried to stand from the chair I had collapsed in...and couldn't.

The third day was, well. Two hours in and I was in a lot more pain than I should have been. By the end of shift it physically hurt to walk or stand, and the next morning, when I woke up I couldn't walk for several hours. This is a bad, bad thing.

I had two more days of work, yeah? I can't just not show up. So my dad agrees to buy me new shoes, and I hope that solves the problem.

I go to work that evening, as I have the night shift, in my new shoes. I come home around about midnight, and I'm just fine.

Lesson learned people: New job, new shoes. Your old shoes are worn out and will hate on your feet so much. So. Much. Other than that, not much has happened, though I continue to be fascinated by the windows here.

I want these windows in the house I will one day own. Why, you ask?

Well, all the American windows I know of either go up and down, or they slide to the left or the right. I'm sorry, but my windows deserve to have options. German windows have these options. I kid you not.

My bedroom windows can tilt to open at the top, and is that not the coolest thing ever? There's a reason it's the top too. When it rains here, you can have your window open and not worry about your things getting soaked. And trust me, you want your windows open as much as possible here. Air circulation in German houses in non existent, so that musty old closed up house smell comes quick.

They can also hinge open and swing in to the right. So they open all the way, none of this half the window nonsense you get otherwise. The entire pane of glass opens up.

Now admittedly, I have do-dads (and Robert E Lee) on my window ledges, so there's no opening it that way. But I have get fun doing this with my long bathroom window and trying to touch the roses on the other side. My arm isn't long enough, and I'm pretty sure the neighbors must think I'm nuts now.

But the roses are just out of reach, so I have to keep trying!

One Final Byte: The weather can not decide if its summer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Week Four: Shopping!

I know, I'm a few hours later than usual, but hey, I was at my first day of work! Don't fear, it shouldn't interfere with too many blog postings!

Oh wow, another week here. I wish I could say it's been filled with fun and excitement but...I can't. Mostly, I've been working on scholarships and filling out paperwork, then waiting on paperwork. We did go somewhere for Memorial Day. I suspect we would have gone to the pool but it's actually! Hm...

Totally going to try and go there this weekend though.

Fear not, I do have something to talk about. German Shopping!

That's what we did on Monday. We had a shopping trip to Kaiserslautern, which is a city that sprung up around the Holly Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa’s Hunting Lodge. Around here, most people just say Barbarossa, but with the recent Pirates movie, I don't want any confusion.

Right. German Shopping. Did you know those sales associates have to undergo three years of training? Trade School for Salespersons. I do not joke. Excellent Service though at every shop we visited. Most of them spoke some English, enough to help, but one older woman didn't speak more than a few words.

We managed to figure everything out though.

The two family members I was with weren't heavy shoppers, and would have ruined my fun if I had dived into a shop to look around, but I got a glimpse at a lot of German fashions as we went by. They're very, well, unique.

I'm not certain how I feel about them. I wouldn't wear a good majority of the stuff in the shops, and I don't know a single soul who would. But I don't know any Germans yet. I know, I know! I've been here a month, and the only local I've spoken too run the shops. What have I been thinking!

Well, I'm admittedly rather shy off line, and besides, I haven't really seen any Germans, anywhere, unless they were working. Speaking of working!

Shops here close at six pm, on the dot. Heaven help you if you're working late. On Saturdays, they're closed at one, and on Sundays they aren't open at all! Who's idea was that one? They all seem to be doing well enough, but it makes it difficult to get your weekend shopping out of the way.

We did not go to the Japanese Gardens that Kaiserslautern boasts. That's for another trip, I am told. I can't wait to see!

The shopping center was pedestrian only. It's the German version of a mall, and there were about a gazillion small shops there. Some international names of course. We actually ate at McDonald’s. I know, I know. Why am I eating at McDonald’s when I'm in the middle of a foreign country and could eat anything else.

Well, it's not the price tags, which are getting up there. It's the speed. Quick food. I suppose we're paying for the convenience, and not the taste?

Aw well, either way, while shopping, we stepped into an old church, open to the public. The ceiling was practically four stories above us, and I did like it. We looked around a bit, and I oo'd and ah'd over the architecture, as I am prone to doing. Then we found a small room with a sculpture there. One one side was Martin Luther (of 95 Treatises fame) and the other was, oh blast! Another famous protestant figure I had heard of only vaguely. Carved into the giant pedestal were a few faces of equally famous religious people that I also didn't recognize. (If they aren't in the Bible, do I really have to know?) and on top of the pedestal was the Angel of Freedom with all of its symbols of office. How do I know this?

There was a sign on a poster board that said who was who. I have to say, Martin Luther looked like a jolly figure. And if angels really around about 12 feet tall, then I'm glad they don't wander among us visibly, because it's kind of intimidating.

One Final Byte (a week late): Old churches are lots of fun to see.