12 April 07 Did I really agree to this?

Thursday, Heidelberg

It was one of those times when you really have to remind yourself that you like your children. Love them? Of course, but liking them? A whole ‘nother world.

I must have been totally and completely out of my mind, asleep perhaps when the youngest quietly reminded me that she had not had a birthday party last month. Would it be all right if she had a few friends over for a pool party the second week of vacation?

Or I was hoping that most of them would still be on vacation, but certainly not thinking clearly. After all, who willing undergoes the noise level that can be created by 14 year olds?

Next I was to find that this was going to be a mixed group. Ok, I can deal with that.

(Notice that she is leading me on, one step at a time?)

Then came the request for some of the kids to sleep over. This is an issue. I don’t want them in the house if there is no adult present. George is now out in LA and I am here. Ick.

Who was she thinking?

The whole group.

Nope, no boys, you are too old for that (or not old enough, but I am not going there). She settled for requesting a few of the girls.

The shopping completed last night, my final words were that she and her siblings had to have the house completely cleaned up for company.

I made in home barely before the first guests were due to arrive. As I came up the steps, I heard Nina rehearsing her performance piece. Noah was going to be downtown with friends.

Do you think for a minute that the house was clean?

I have Graham Wheat bread down pat with the bread machine. Doesn’t it look nice?


1 cup buttermilk, 1 egg, 3TBS molasses, 1/4 cup oil, 2 Cups bread flour, 1 cup graham flour, 1.5 tsp yeast and whatever herbs you like (2 TBS dried onion flakes and 1 tbs chopped ginger) placed in the break machine in whatever order required and baked on the large wheat loaf cycle.


11 April 2007 Goodies

Wednesday, Nachrichten Caserne Mailroom

What a wonderful thing after a draggy day at work. There were four pick up slips in my box when I careened through the mail room right before the window closed. If you are not interested in fibers or knitting – skip down the next paragraph.

There was a box containing bobbins and dyes. There was this nice, small box containing stitchmarkers for both regular knitting and socks/lace so that I have a chance not to lose my place in lace sock tops. In a separate package were new sock blockers. Unlike some others that I have purchased, these are absolutely smooth on the edges making it unlikely to catch and pull on the sock. To further my happiness, my yarn from a German store came in as well: including some hanks of yarn destined for the dye pot.

If that was not enough, the aprons from CoolAprons.com arrived to please the teens with ghosts and skulls (don't ask - they are teenagers).

Finally, there was this little box from New Orleans. I sat there. I don't remember ordering anything from New Orleans. The box says Pralines By Jean. Now I have been very good and simply have avoided ever cruising on the internet for sweets. Inside is a beautiful presentation box, with a note saying "Thank you for the STR yarn" and signed by someone whom I do not know.

I was completely confused. After making my socks, I had some yarn left over. A desperate knitter out in Los Angeles had posted a note saying she was shor, so I sent my extra yarn to her. In the pile of correspondence was an envelope from her. The note inside explained: she had finished her second sock and had yarn left. Passing the good dead forward, she mailed off the remaining yarn to another member who was short yarn in Louisiana.

>Now it was clear. From US area code 503 (Oregon) to me in Heidelberg Germany, to Los Angeles, California to New Orleans, LA. This traveling sock yarn now has a bit of the same skein now in socks in Germany, Los Angeles, and the Gulf Coast. It says something about cooperation and sock knitters.


8 April 2007 Coding till my fingers bleed.

Sunday, Heidelberg

I spent the day either knitting or updating one of the dozen or so webpages. I liked the knitting part. The messing around with cropping pictures wasn’t even too bad.

But the coding at times drives me nuts, especially since I can’t spell. This means either writing things out in a document, then pasting in paragraph by paragraph or endless corrections of typos once things are on-line.

Which leaves me feeling that I should update as I go, and not let things slide for 3-4 weeks.

Let me see……details surround by <> or knitting and reading.

Easy choice!


9 April 2007 Desperately seeking

Monday, Heidelberg

They’ve cracked. Totally and completely lost it. Bursting into the house after being outside for over an hour this evening walking the dog, the three teenagers demanded candy.

We have none in the house.

Nor is there any gum, nutella, or anything sweet.

Now, during the regular portion of their lives, the teens will go days without needing sweets. But this is the last day of Passover and they are desperate. Wanting candy badly enough, they even contemplated walking or taking their bikes to the Shoppette, but it is likely to be closed before they get there. Not wanting to take that chance, there was prowling in the cupboards.

Even practical here, I suggested that they make candy. We have cocoa, we have butter, and we have sugar—have at it.

After first denying any interest, I am hearing sounds in the kitchen. The complaint was that they didn’t have a recipe. But the cocoa tin has directions for chocolate frosting. What is frosting but spreadable candy?

Whatever they did, they did not offer to share.


7 April 07 What to eat?

Saturday, Heidelberg Pedestrian Zone

Any other time of year I can go to the Fußgänger Zone in Heidelberg, plow through the crowds and head home totally oblivious to the food.

But not during Passover. I notice everything to eat that is for sale, all the people walking by with take-away in their hands. All the walk up counters that line the Hauptstraße seem to be teaming with people.

And things that would normally not interest me at all are starting to smell good.

I know it has to be related to the issue of “permission.” Since normally I could choose to eat almost anything, but don’t; it does not tempt me. But today, in spite of a late breakfast, I was hungry when I ran my errands downtown. With stomach rumbling, there seemed to be a bakery every 50 meters with luscious pastries on display. Nordsee fish shops had out their crusty baguettes filled with lox or fried fish cakes. The sidewalk cafés were open and starting to do business. Couples, families and friends sat relaxing over a beer and watching the crowds pass by.

It was about this time that I really figured out that even if I wanted something to eat, it was going to be unlikely that I would be able to find anything. Certainly not any of the shops serving things in bread, or breaded; not even considering the animals or creatures from which it had been prepared.

Then I started looking. Other than the fresh fruits and vegetables in Kaufhof’s Markthalle, the only possibility that I found (and unsurprisingly in the same place) was Matjesfilet. With sour cream and dill, plain, with onions or with a sour cream & beet combination – those would be on the edible list. All the other fish concoctions had sea food of one kind or another.

But the thought of herring just did not do anything for me, and I headed home.

Besides, they didn’t offer even plastic silverware with their containers of food.


6 April 2007 Listening to what was

Friday, Heidelberg

After buzzing directly through #5 and #6 in the Stephanie Plum series, I started Finding Moon by Tony Hillerman, who is primarily known for his Navajo Mystery Stories. On the surface, this is a simple tale of a man traveling to Viet Nam in Spring of 1975 to retrieve a young daughter of his recently deceased brother. Set against the background of the collapsing regime in Saigon, it is a shrewd look at the chaos of the time. The characters are excellent, and more than realistic of those who inhabited that time, living and surviving off the needs of the governments and the Company. Sometimes I forget how long we have had the tradition of contractors for those jobs which the US Government does not wish to do directly. Perhaps it would not be as interesting to someone who was not old enough to have personally experienced the Viet Nam era, but I found it intensely interesting.

3 April 07 Read Russian?

Tuesday, Heidelberg, Germany

If you happen to read Russian, you can go here. Alla says it is a good article covering both Operation Gratitude and some of my experiences downrange, I will just have to trust it is so..

2 April 2007 Community Seder

Monday, Mark Twain Village Chapel

We will just ignore my day prior to about noon. The migraine meds worked and the turkeys got in the oven on time. We started the broth for the matzoh ball soup and put potatoes on to boil. Miriam fixed up the matzoh ball mixture and put it in the fridge to set.

Around 1600 I headed down the hill to the chapel. Not really finding any children who were interested at the time in joining me, I left them a list of things to bring along.

Having a cell phone is lovely; I only made about six calls as I started to remember all the items that needed to be brought. Can’t open the wine without a corkscrew. Needed an extra table cloth. Where did I put the rest of the plastic utensils?

You get the idea.

Kathi and Lou had arrived at 1500, since they wanted to get the brisket in the oven. Around 1700, the set up crew actually arrived. It was great – tablecloths were put out, all the places set, seder plates set up, and all the rest. We set up for 48 (good guess since we wound up with 45 in attendance).

Annette lead the Seder with Bill providing the music lead. One of the students had brought her violin, so we had lots of music. We also had more than enough food. What was really amazing is that we actually ran the second half of the Seder (the after meal portion) with all but one family staying.

I can’t really be upset at the one group that did not really do much on cleanup. After all, they went and sang all the traditional songs at the end. It was about 2200 when we left, all but one table put away and the group still merrily singing.

I have put a few pictures down at the bottom –


1 April 07, Easy Off? Not hardly-

MTV Chapel

We have a really great vacuum cleaner. It is one of those with no bags, you just empty out the container when it is full. This seems to be all the time when you have a golden retriever in the house. Even when fairly full, it has a powerful suction; strong enough to suck keys off a laptop computer. You don’t even have to ask me how I know that, do you?

Noah was my hero, managing to find the tab key, the small plastic interlocking spacer, and to get them properly settled back on the keyboard such that they actually worked.

I think it was anything for a break from cleaning. I drove the kids all day. George took on most of the really ugly kitchen cleaning. Nina got the cupboards after doing the fridge yesterday. The other two vacuumed the whole place, Miriam taking a break while Noah unclogged the hose.

My idea of picking up the worst of the paper and misc. small unidentifiable pieces of things just didn’t meet their fancy. I think they took the hint after a while, unstopping the hose is really such a bore.

There are spring cleaning rituals and customs in many cultures. I am not sure that as many come with all the stipulations and rules as cleaning for Passover. But we are ……

Done. The kitchen is clean, as is the house. For that matter, with two friends + their daughter and my son we managed to get the kitchen at the chapel completely scrubbed. Additionally, the teens cleaned up the floor, set up tables and otherwise were an incredible amount of help. Looking at the state of the stove, refrigerator and oven, we decided that it probably had not been cleaned since this time last year. Once we finished, we taped up both doors leading into the kitchen and placed big signs saying that the kitchen had been kashered and to come back on 3 April. Just to be safe, I will stop by in the morning and talk to the NCOIC as well as the senior chaplain.

It was take out Thai food on the patio for dinner, then we watched Happy Feet.

Hey, we are adults, but normally like animation and kids movies. I liked the cheerfulness of part of it, but the movie as a whole was really dumb. That is ok, I managed to finish up another ball of yarn on the half circle baby sweater and check email.

Kids are off to the basement and claiming the last of the clean laundry. I am off to bed.


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