Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Autumn is falling

One difference between California, especially So Cal, and Germany is the presence of seasons. In Germany, autumn is upon us. In case you were wondering, fall officially started on September 22 at 15:44:16 UCT or Greenwich Mean Time (at least according to Wikipedia). And here in Kandern, it sure looks it. We are starting to see trees just kissed with red and a slight dusting of orange. It is beautiful to watch the colors start to turn.

Here is a picture from a hike we took on Sunday. These are the hills just overlooking Kandern.

Side note: We really are in a very rural area here. We saw a man drive to the grocery store on his tractor. A tractor. I wish we had a picture of this German farmer, driving away in his tractor with a big, warm pretzel.

Another sure sign of autumn is the growing number of pumpkin stands along the roads. We stopped at this stand to buy some gourds...

We made our purchase from a very friendly old man, all in German. He even threw in an extra gourd, "just for me" he said. We have a little display of gourds at our door, just like all the Germans. I figure if summer isn't going to come back, I might as well celebrate fall!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Friday night at the Office

Last Friday was a day of rejoicing in the DeClercq household. We got home from work and had just started making dinner when the doorbell rang. We pushed the buzzer to let in whoever had stopped by to see us. It could have been anyone since half of our friends don't have phones yet. When we didn't hear the door open, Adam went down to investigate. When he opened the door, there was a box sitting on our welcome mat. And what was in the box?
This was in the box...
We did a happy dance. Amazon said it wouldn't arrive for another three weeks! It took every ounce of restraint we had to refrain from plopping down on the couch for 20 hours of television. Instead we got dressed and went back to school.

What? Back to school on a Friday night? Indeed. But we went in costume. It was Fall Party. A big deal at BFA. The costumes are a big deal. So, since we are new, we couldn't just go as any old thing. It had to be good. We went as the cast of.... the Office. And it was good.

Here we are...

From left to right: Adam as Ryan, Laura as Kelly, Luke as Roy, Stephanie as Pam, Bo as Andy, Leigh as Meredith, Tommy as Jim, Heather as Angela, and Micah as Dwight (not pictured: Sarah as Jan)
The students loved it. When they announced "the Office" the crowd literally went wild. It was a great feeling. The theme was Black and White. So, technically, we were "the Office in black and white". I braved the "consequences" that were threatened with the pink sweater. But, Kelly would never be caught dead in just black and white.
And in case you are wondering, we are planning an Office premier party for tomorrow night.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

even Peanut Butter is complicated here...

Peanut Butter is not a diet staple here in Germany. So, for those of us Americans that live by peanut butter alone, (in case you're wondering, that's Adam in the DeClercq household) BFA hires a driver to drive mega-tubs of natural PB from Holland. We, the peanut-butter-eating-staff buy it and sing the praises of BFA for thinking of something so ingenious. The only problem is that the peanut butter comes in 25 kilo tubs. So, even for a big peanut butter eater like Adam, that is too much peanut butter. Besides, where would I store it?

So, we decided to split the tub of peanut butter with a few other people. Sounds brilliant, I know. But, I did mention it is "natural peanut butter", right? That means, the oil separates and you have to stir it in. Not a problem when you buy a jar of Trader Joe's PB or some Laura Schudders. But our tub was 25 kilos.
Here we are trying to stir the peanut butter with the longest spoon I had in the kitchen. And a close up of our mega-tub...
That spoon snapped in half showering the kitchen with precious peanut butter. And then I had to dig the half-spoon out of the peanut butter.

In the end, we filled just about every plastic container we could find with peanut butter.
I have to confess, not even culinary school prepared me for mixing a tub-o-PB that was that big. And that, blog-readers, is the kind of thing we do for fun on a Friday night!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brrr...it's cold

Adam here: The cold weather is upon us. It has been getting increasingly colder the last few days. It went from being in the mid 80's to the mid 60's overnight. Of course over here everything is in Celsius so it is even colder, like 1os or 12's or something crazy like that. I don't really know. I'm still adjusting. Laura keeps telling me, "it isn't crazy, it is just different." She is so loving in her correction of me. Anyway, this morning when we were leaving for school we found our car had turned into an ice cube over night. There was ice frozen all over it. Thinking fast, I ran inside to get our bucket of dryer water to dump over it to thaw the ice. There are no hoses. It rains too much to have to water anything. We don't have an ice scrapper yet. And here, all the water from the clothes dryer is collected into a bucket. Since we don't waste anything here, I used that water to clear the windows. Don't worry, I already gave myself a pat on the back for my quick intellect. Now if only I could think of a way to prepare for tomorrow morning.

In other news: You might notice that Laura posted a new picture of us standing in front of a very old looking bridge. That was take in Luzern, Switzerland. Mr. Post, the Jr. High history teacher is also a pastor of an international church in Luzern. (He is also the father of one of my sophomores.) His wife invited us to attend church with them on Sunday so we went along. It was about an hour drive out there. The church service was very nice. We wished it was a little closer, we thing we would have liked getting involved there. After the service the Post family walked us around Luzern and showed us all of the sites. That bridge in the background is still mostly original and is something like 500 years old. That's all for now. Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Laura's Email

It's a crazy world we live in. We can perform surgeries remotely with robotic arms, we can transmit information literally all over the globe, we can pay for things with a piece of plastic, but can we recover emails from a deleted email account? Not a chance. Not if you ask nicely; not if you beg; not even if you get irritated and yell at the computer screen.
So, the good news: I get a new email address.
The bad news: I don't have any of the wonderful emails I have received over the years... or that you have sent to me in the last week.
So, my request... if you have sent me an email in the last week and have not heard back from me, forward it to my new email.
You can reach me now at lauradeclercq@ymail.com.
Please email me. My new inbox is looking a little stark.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

German Blunders

We decided yesterday that we needed to laugh a little here at "It's CQ", so laugh with us at our blunders.
1. Forgetting to buy toilet paper on Saturday and realizing we used the absolute last square early Sunday morning. Might not seem so bad, except EVERYTHING is closed here on Sunday. We had to walk to a neighbor's house and humbly beg for a roll of tp to get us through til Monday, when the stores open their doors.
2. Turning onto a bike path while trying to get off the road in a hail storm that nearly killed us because we were going someplace new and people were practically throwing themselves off the road. We drove a few hundred meters, missed the kids on their bikes and turned a nice 3-point turn, back up the bike path and back onto the street.
3. Getting lost at the border. Into Switzerland, wrong turn back into Germany, quick u-turn back into Switzerland. And wouldn't you know it, not a single passport stamp.
More to come, I'm sure.
If you ever feel you could use some humbling, just move to a new country and watch your pride fall down around your knees in a new way everyday!