Everyday Life

This blogging gets in the way of life. Yet when I look at older posts it’s always such a nice reminder and memory. So I stumble along and do my best.

The last days, since Monday, Stephen is by my side. He thinks he’s got jet lag beat with a special diet, or rather a fast followed by a high protein meal if I understand correctly. Yet he fell asleep during a boring conversation in German I had with an official at the former dementia home my father was at before he died. I kicked Stephen under the table afraid he would fall out of his seat.

As Stephen keeps saying, we could be tourists and enjoy ourselves visiting various sites, but it’s also good to just be part of life here. A day going to the bakery and grocery store, strolling along the river that runs through town, discovering some adult size swings and finding out Stephen never learned how to pump a swing. Lots of food here and there and realizing that an Eiskaffee has nothing to do with an iced coffee but is a magic concoction of vanilla and chocolate ice cream with unsweetened coffee and topped with whipped cream and a thin wafer. I believe Stephen had one every day since.

He got to visit infamous spots of my youth. Visited with friends where I ate all their pretzels and we might not be welcome back. 

We always did errands to various government offices and found out how all important data protection is here, unless they want something from you.

Finding my brother has been one focus today. At the office they offered his whereabouts after he left home as a youth, over 30 years ago. That would be €10. Of course he has moved many times since and I’m supposed to go from town to town until I reached his final residence, unless he’s homeless and without residence. Can’t you just tell me where he is? Data protection. 

In Mannheim today at a homeless hangout I asked about my brother. Everyone was so friendly and word got around quickly at the square, but no one knew a Robert.

Stephen had an introduction to a Döner and likes them. We also hit the organic store and ended up with tons of new teas. Oops. A refreshing drink of apple juice with rosemary and other ingredients totally fit, as they say here: es passt.

We’re loaded down with photos from my fathers belongings. Everything else I donated, from furniture to about 10 tubs of clothing, some of it still wrapped and never worn. The photos were emotional baggage enough. If you visit us you’ll see a photo of my mom as a youn’un on the ancestry wall.

We visited the Turkish section of town and found a vegan place. It’s so sad we’re not here long enough to eat at every interesting place we see. Vegetarian and vegan food has taken off in this area, not just fries and a side salad anymore.

I’m running out of energy and typing with two fingers on an ipad gets old, old, old. 

Friday we’re heading to Heidelberg where our friends are waiting. I’ve known them since I was 17 or so. Lots of history and stories.


Ask me how hot it was today in Germany. So hot I considered having myself locked into the grocery store. Their air conditioning was superb. I lingered and pretended I couldn’t make up my mind what to buy. I already had some beer in my basket, a non-alcoholic hefeweizen and a radler. I love the latter which is a combination of beer and lemonade. Radler, could be translated as bicyclist. It is meant as a refreshment during a bike ride, or for lightweights like me. But I returned both bottles and traded them in for ice cream, fruit, and yogurt.

The weather is suffocating at the moment. Over 100 degrees and humid. So what does one do? Binge Versailles on Netflix in front of a fan. Not making any unnecessary moves, except to raise a glass of water once in a while and the resulting trips to the bathroom.

Feeding the turtles is a highlight every day. They love dandelion flowers, except there aren’t any anywhere in this town, but I scored some mint for them and hibiscus flowers which they supposedly love.

If at all possible I eat on the balcony that looks out on to the neighborhood. Let me illustrate with photos.


The biggest con at my age? I don’t need to write this down, I’ll remember. There are two other cons I thought of and didn’t write down and now I forgot. I remember one, check the time again for the appointment and don’t rely on memory. 

Acceptance with the loss of memory I can accept. Why is it so difficult then to just remedy the situation with pen and paper? The answer as so much nowadays to anything is : age. But I shall work on that.

Today was a good day. I climbed a mountain and just about reached the top. The bank. I have so much paperwork you would think I even outshine the german bureaucracy. They manage to surprise me each and every time.

This time no surprises. I had it all except the Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung. And the bank is going to get it themselves. A big YEAH! In the meantime they released some money to me to pay back funeral expenses and a little extra for travel right now.

It’s getting very hot here and will be getting hotter throughout the week. As it is I’m a constant puddle of sweat and sticky. Humidity! Germans can be very accepting of nudity, but no one wants to see me running around town naked. But I’m close to not caring.

Shopping today for my daily bread, or rather Brötchen and yogurt and fruit and pickles, I ran into a former neighbor. We stood in the heat chatting for almost an hour. Here in this town we are the locals. Very strange feeling that. My dialect is in full bloom and I’m enjoying it. It’s like speaking another language. And so often I get: you talk without an accent. Not sure what to make of that.

Yarn. Yes, I have one skein along. Am I crazy? At least it’s only 100 grams of the 44 pounds I’m allowed. Norwegian finally came out with their winter schedule, and yes, it looks all flights leave from San Francisco now. But they’re alive and kicking flying.

The last two days were white asparagus days. I’m from the asparagus growing region in Germany, but the season has ended. A good german household has enough frozen to last until next season. That’s how I scored my favorite food. No time to take a photo as I devoured, or was it inhaled, the food.

Let’s hope tomorrow is a bit more exciting. With the heat it’s hard to go beyond existing though.

First Week

The business part of my trip is not showing much success so far. One of the documents I need has to go through a notary = money. Or i can do this myself and need an appointment with an official but the calendar is full until December. They finally suggested the best would be through the german consulate in San Francisco. I’ve come almost full circle. So be it.

I still have an appointment with the bank and wonder what the outcome will be. 

There is another problem, the american credit union wants a death certificate or date of someone I know nothing about, the last girlfriend of my father. She died during my visit last year.

Other than that my biggest problem is the time change. Why can’t I adjust? Is age a factor?  I get tired early, go to bed instead of snoring on my friend’s couch and wake up at midnight for 4 to 5 hours. I read, I toss and turn, hug my pillow, uncover myself, recover myself, go to the bathroom and repeat. Then I wake up at 11 am and struggle through the next day. How do people do it who only get a 2 week vacation here?

When I arrived late at night I immediately felt at home. Waiting for the street car I saw opera goers with fancy clothing to homeless and every level of society in between. Everyone using public transportation.

Every day I treat myself by going grocery shopping. First the bakery to get a few Brötchen, and perhaps a slice of cake, then the grocery store for my glass of cherry or hazelnut yogurt, my favorite cheese, or whatever strikes my fancy. From creamed spinach to an ice cream I haven’t had since last year. 

The streets are familiar, the food is familiar, except the people, I don’t recognize them anymore. And yet, they all look familiar in a german kind of way.

It’s so easy to imagine myself living back here.

I was really jealous of my friend’s garden since I had to forgo mine this year. You should have seen her red currant bushes! The fig trees! The zucchini! The chard! The red beets! Everything was bigger than anything I ever grew and they grow organic.

What’s in season right now are red currants and I’m having my fill. And gooseberries.

I love the market in town, a 3 times a week market. Everything my heart desires and has missed.

A store focused on french fries.

My döner, a small one this time.

Radish I didn’t know came this huge.

The broad beans.


My morning chores of feeding the turtles that are my age.

Adventures Start

So here I am, finally, Germany.

Flight was pretty uneventful, slept most of the time, but realized that even 3 seats are not enough to sleep comfortably.

When maneuvering through the airport to the shuttle for a ride to another part of the airport and  from there to the train to the Paris train station, I was lost at times but pretended with confidence that I knew where I was going.

It is a known area where thieves are active and I was watching shoes. Fast running shoes that have seen lots of wear: watch out Marianna! Of course I was wearing my oldest running shoes myself come to think of it. 

Clutching my rolling suitcase, my backpack, and my purse, I made it to gare du nord, another known sketchy neighborhood, to walk to gare de l’est. I had 3 different directions how to approach this 1/3 mile walk. But I was too proud to pull out the piece of paper and also didn’t want to give the impression I was a lost tourist. If you watched me closely and saw my backtracking, it must have been a giveaway.

If you ever took Bart in the bay area, you know you insert your ticket to get into the train area and you do the same on the way out.

For some reason I imagined this would not be the case in Paris. I entered inserting my ticket, but was looking for a way out without doing the same. It felt very prison like until I got hold of some courage and just tried inserting the ticket again, fully expecting all sirens and bells and whistles to go off.

Now which exit? Some street names looked familiar. One that I equated with drunkard, one with san quentin, and so forth.

With resolve I entered Paris life where a whole lot of men were trying to foist single packs of cigarettes on passers by. I must have looked like a non-smoker and was approached by no one. 

I did my one street forward, cross the road and then one street back thing, by now I was really good at that, saw a bus with gare de l’est sign and went down that road. Not very far down the road I came to what seemed like a 6 way intersection. Most people with suitcases or backpacks were heading toward the left and when I peeked in that direction I recognized the correct train station.

From there on all went according to plan. Found my train and seat. And off we went toward Mannheim. At some point a fellow traveler took a seat next to me, and I gave him the status of either soccer player or migrant. He spoke very little german and it turns out was in the wrong seat. The conductor directed him to the first class section but he decided he liked sitting next to me. 

Arriving in Mannheim, I was on home turf. Got ticket to my village and waited for the streetcar for half an hour since I just had missed one and it now was after 10 pm and they only run twice an hour.

The wait was fine as I took in all the familiar sights and was flooded with memories. Streetcars in other directions came and went. Spilling out opera goers in fancy getup to people in tattered clothing and everything in between. They all shared the idea of public transit and it made me smile.

I kept on listening in to conversations and watching my fellow travelers. It was almost 11 pm when I arrived and had a short walk left to where I was staying.

There was a little hiccup in that the sidewalks are mostly cobblestone and rolling a suitcase along shattered the silence of the night. I was waiting for the shutters to open behind me and getting screamed at. But this stayed a fantasy. When I turned into the street where my friend lived I did lift the suitcase the last few meters.

Then it was a few hours talking and off to bed. Sleep is not easy with the time difference!

Home Again

It’s not even been a year, and here I fret all over again what clothing to bring. How to fill my suitcase. What to bring on my trip to Germany and France.

I packed during the Women’s World Cup soccer season while a heatwave swept over France and Germany and other places I’ll not be going to. Easy! Every lightweight t-shirt and skirt went in. And one sweater for that one cool day.

Then the heatwave was over and I saw I might be arriving with rain. Ok, 2 sweaters! Then a call from Germany and a complaint of how cold it is. 3 sweaters!

I know I’ll want lots of space for chocolate and tea and soup broth and other little gems I’ll discover over there and will want to bring back. Did I mention the glorious bath towels with colors never imagined before? So bright and lovely I want to shower every hour.

No buying yarn this time. Basta! I have enough. Also, only one skein for the trip over in case of a very rainy day. Not too old to have learned my lesson last time.

Suitcase packed, it turns into a waiting game. Time is in slow motion, even at my age. I don’t allow myself to finish every last task in one day, because then what? Today I try to get control over my meds situation. Tomorrow vacuuming and dusting and if necessary the floors and bathrooms.

Next day the fridge.

Less mundane, for me at least, is finding the flight book, the downloadable one that will keep me distracted from my absolute horror of being so far above ground that I’m sure I would not survive a fall from that height.

Thanks to all the friends giving recommendations, though I have read quite a few of them. I checked out the rest by downloading reading samples. I’ve already started over 10 books this way. And all, ALL, of them have many holds at the library ebooks site. I wonder why ebooks are not unlimited borrowing.

Before I pay for a book I want more information, and here I admit to a bad habit: I read reviews (and posts to news stories, but that’s another story). Usually just the one-star and five-star reviews. But now I’m under time pressure and only focus on the one-stars.

If reviewers think there is no plot and the story drags, I imagine it won’t hold my interest and distract me when I hear a noise and think the plane’s engine must be on fire.

The book situation is not solved yet, but i have a backup. I started a German series on the way back from there last year and could just download the second book. But I have a hard time following the various characters and as usual forgot what was in the first book already. First world problems, right?

Today I’ve done shit to get ready. I have another little tooth problem that I’m hoping will not end up as a longer post here. I think I’ll quit eating nuts. Usually the culprits. The last time, a couple of weeks ago, or was it only last week? I ended up having a bridge removed and the accompanying teeth. That leaves a 3-tooth gap in my mouth. Yes, I’m not jumping for joy.

Toby is supposed to come home today. We received a text earlier when they were ready to depart, around 12:45 pm. They’re flying in to Redding where their buggies are parked. And then home! Sure hope there is time for a visit, however short. And I want to hear Alaska stories.

About 10 years ago Stephen and I started a blog on our journey to Boulder to visit Liana. I’m celebrating with a reread: http://theeastwardmovement.blogspot.com/2009/08/night-before.html