Friday, June 17, 2011

School's OUT... as of today: Let 'summer' begin!!

Some teacher friends and I went out to eat tonight to celebrate the first night of 'freedom'....

Now, it's 8pm and I'm doing laundry. Why you might ask? Well, a wash cycle in Germany takes 140 minutes to complete and the dryer takes 221 minutes... (and the clothing isn't that dry when it's over either)... so, I need to do ONE LOAD of laundry tonight....

While waiting until midnight before my trip back to the base so I can catch a bus a little after midnight. To go Polish Pottery Shopping in Poland. I can't believe that I signed up and paid to do this... it will be fun- but, I'm tired already.

I don't sleep on planes, trains, buses, or cars... so, I will take some knitting and my portable DVD player with me. That reminds me- I need to pack up my backpack and fill it with my entertainment (can't read- I get car sick), some water, and a snack for the trip.

I made sure that I have some 50 cent euro coins for the public bathrooms along the autobahn. I need to pack everything up so that I'll be ready for my late drive on base.

I'll take my camera and take some photos.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How many times have you moved?

I'm still looking for my 'missing paperwork' from a previous blog entry. Time is running out. I am now looking in 'weird, no way in the world would I have put the missing paperwork in this location' location... because, truthfully... there are NO OTHER OPTIONS LEFT!

I have to find the missing paperwork, complete the forms, and turn it in by June 17th.

While sorting through 'old' paperwork... I have found odds and ends of paperwork (lots) from previous moves. When you work for the US Government... there is just a lot of paperwork that goes with the job- including paperwork to authorize shipping household goods/etc.

Of course, finding this paperwork... reminded me of previous places, people I hadn't thought about in years, and of course a large assortment of names and phone numbers of people that I don't even remember who they were much less remember meeting them.

I'm more of a visual person and I'm sure if they were to knock on my door- that I'd recall how and why I knew these 'mystery names' though.

So, while thinking about some of my previous locations... and moves... which is why I need this missing paperwork in the first place... I thought about seeing how often others have moved.

Myself personally? I like change and the longest that I have lived anywhere in the past 21 years has been for 3 years at one time.

I have been here for 3 years and I did apply for a transfer this spring- but, I didn't get one. There was only the slimmest hope that I would get one and I was aware of the limited likelyhood of getting a transfer to a new location...

I want to leave because the winters here are 7 months long, dark, damp, cold, and we always have snow on the ground. The snow might 'melt off' one or two times per winter- but, that's not much when you consider how long the winters are. I'm not a winter person in the first place- but, the long, damp, cold winters cause me to get pneumonia for 3-5 months every winter. I go to work sick on most of those days too-because I only have a few sick days left.

So, I was curious about how many times you have moved.

Friday, June 10, 2011

python snakes...

Yesterday's story reminded me of another 'kid story.'

More than 20 years ago, I was a fairly new art teacher in southern Oklahoma. My 2nd graders (age 7) had just entered class and I had gotten them started on their project. I was gathering up some paint and other materials that I had been working on, for the school play, prior to the arrival of this class.

I had some brushes, tape, a sketch, and of course some water based acryic paints.

One little boy... noticing that I was cleaning up a brush that had paint all over it said, in his easy, slow, southern drawl like only southern children can manage...

"Miss _______, you know what that paint SMELLS LIKE?"

"That paint smells like P.. Y.. T.. H.. O.. N snakes."

I replied, "Oh it does, does it?" He said, "Yep!"

I asked him had he been smelling PYTHON SNAKES often? He answered with a very serious face.... "Yep."

We continued with our art lesson and about 20 minutes later he said with a little smile playing on his lips... "You know what Ms. ____________?" "I was just joking about that python snake."I still laugh when I tell that story. Of course it does help that I can drawl my words out nice and slow just like he did.

Now, I know for a fact that it is quite unlikely that he had ever seen- much less had EVER smelled a PYTHON SNAKE! However, I just loved how his mind worked to connect an unfamiliar (but not strong smell) with a python snake?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Every so often something funny happens

that helps you endure the last days of school.Today, I was in the hallway greeting my last class of the day for art class... it was a large group of kindergarteners.

I had on a blouse with this type of print:

This little boy, towards the back of the long line, says loudly... "Ms____________, I really like your CHEATER shirt!

I told him "Thank you." However, the truth is... what he said was SO FUNNY and I had to really control myself NOT to laugh out loud.

After school, you can bet that I went walking all over the place sharing my 'CHEATER' shirt with everyone that I saw. After hearing the story, all burst out laughing.

Later, at the base post-office, I saw one of the staff members that I had shared my special shirt story with earlier that afternoon... and of course she shouted out... for all to hear "There's Ms.__________ wearing her CHEATER shirt!"

*I don't think that I imagined the raised eyebrows under a few of the military berets standing in line ahead of me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

May I take your order please?

Yes, may I have some E COLI free lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers... and...

OK, could you just give me a disease free salad??

Yes, world... I love salads and it is quite sad not being able to buy/eat/enjoy veggies.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I have a new computer

It was time. Past time.

My Sony Vaio laptop was almost 7 years old. Which is quite elderly for a computer. It was beginning to show its old age too. There were difficulties in downloading photos, going very slow, taking a lot more time than usual to download webpages. It was almost like needing the computer version of a cane to stand.

Since, the old Vaio worked so wonderfuly without ANY PROBLEMS for over 6 years... I simply bought another one. It wasn't a laptop model this time- I got a big flat screen model. I haven't had time to explore on it very much- but, I was dismayed to discover that you have to BUY YOUR OWN WORD PROGRAM now!?What is up with that? Computers certainly cost enough.

I did try to send a photo attachment in an email to a friend a couple of days ago- and it never would 'stop' attaching and actually attach the photo so that I could send it. I'm not sure what caused that problem? I'd like to get it working so that I can attach photos to my blog entries.

We have 2 more weeks of school. I am C O U N T I N G the days!

It's the busy time of the year now- on one hand you want it to go FAST so you can GET IT ALL OVER WITH. BUT, then again... there's too much to get covered, reports to write, assignments to grade, grades to record, and the bane of my existance... art assignments turned in without a name!

Yes, I remind them, yes, I wait for them to write their names down 'before' I give the directions for the new lesson... the biggest problem is... rarely do the number of papers w/out a name equal to the number of students without a grade for that particular project. Almost 700 students per week. Now you know why I am ready for school to be OUT!

ALSO, students 'often' don't recognize their own artwork. Yes, seriously.
Either that... or they are in the land of 'denial' that they even had a no name paper? ha ha

Nothing new and exciting to report. I live in the boonies, I look out onto fields and houses. Nothing much goes on. I don't think that you want to read about the 'traffic wrecks' or near wrecks that I see on my way to work. Seriously, I sometimes wish that I had a helicopter... ok, enough $ to ride on a helicopter... I'm not going to mention the bigger problem of 'no helicopters' in the area anyway.

However, I know that if I had enough $$ to fly in a helicopter to work- that I wouldn't be working. KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

I do have a nice sunset view out my office window (which I've shared on my blog before) and now that the winter season has passed- we once again... get to experience sunsets.

I bought some flowers to plant in the big flowerpot on my front steps... last weekend. Maybe, I can actually find time and/or remember to plant them this weekend?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ollie, Ollie, Oxen... come out, come out from wherever you are...

I have lost some very IMPORTANT paperwork. I need it to file a claim (duplicates aren't available or allowed) from when my household goods were damaged when I got my stuff out of storage.

I usually don't bother with filing these claims because:

1. It's a PAIN to do them.

2. It's especially a PAIN to do them, when you are as 'form filling out & paperwork' deficient as I am.

3. They depreciate the claims so much; that you get almost nothing for the process of filling them out and filing them.

4. Did I mention that I don't like doing paperwork?

I work as a teacher and for the US Government... both jobs are full of paperwork and you add in the fact that I am a 'teacher' for the US GOVERNMENT... well, I'll let you think about how much MORE MY LIFE is full of paperwork than it should be.

I know exactly where these papers were until SPRING BREAK in mid-April. Yes, you heard it here... I got on a 'cleaning' and sorting paperwork plan... (so, I could file the above mentioned missing paperwork).... and for some crazy reason, I decided that they would NO LONGER be appropriate to stay in the living room on the little footstool hidden on one side of the coffee table... WHERE NO ONE could see them.

THEY were not in the way. Oh no, they had just sat there for months, patiently waiting for me to get in the MOOD and find some TIME to do the paperwork.

Sigh, it is NO ONE'S FAULT by my own. No pets, no kids, no one else living in the house but myself.

Yes, I have this problem because I delayed doing the 'dreaded' paperwork, I was sick, I had other things FAR MORE INTERESTING to DO... and simply because, I didn't want to do the paperwork.

SO, now ... the plan is: TO LOOK FOR THE MISSING PAPERWORK everyday when I get home from work.

I have until June 16th. I will have to turn the paperwork in on JUNE 17th at the latest.

Maybe I should 'ground' myself? Send myself to bed early?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring has FINALLY arrived!

I had mentioned that I went 'glass shopping' on April 23rd. Here is a photo of the pieces that I bought... The lady that made these pieces... makes a few holiday items, yard/garden pieces, and other decorative pieces. Of course, I won't mention that I didn't put out any Easter decorations until the day before Easter.

Here are a couple of photos that I took today. My tulips have finally bloomed or at least a few of them have. We've still been having cool/cold night-time temps.. it has been 37*F a few mornings this week. However, it has been nice to see the sun lately.

The landscapes while driving are really beautiful at this time of the year; lots of blooming trees, and a variety of green shades on the trees and the fields. It looks like a painting or at the very least... a photograph found on a jigzaw puzzle box.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

I bought the little wooden wagon last spring at the Nuremberg, Germany Easter Market. The glass chickens and eggs in the wagon were also bought in Germany.

I knitted the little bunny today for this year's Easter addition. I had knitted one for a friend and loved it so much that I knitted one for myself. I need to add some bunny eyes. I rarely take the time to knit items for myself that I have knitted for others- so, I'm trying to make more of an effort to do so.

The ceramic egg tray was bought in the Provence area of France last spring. The lone egg is a real egg with a hand-painted design on it- you can find many of these Easter/Spring painted eggs in Germany. I have several different hand painted eggs; I didn't get them out this year.

The other eggs are hand-blown glass eggs that I bought Saturday in a town that is 100 miles away. I took a friend there this weekend as something fun to do to end my spring break.

My tulips are finally up out of the ground and they look like they might bloom soon.

Spring break is over today and it's back to work tomorrow. :(

I will have to go to work very early tomorrow- to put things back. We had to remove all items from the counters and window ledges for the 'window cleaning' in our classrooms over spring break. I thought about going today- but, I talked myself out of it. Of course, I'll probably regret that decision tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sparkly, Shiny, Clean Teeth

Warning: You "MIGHT" need to wear sunglasses in case my newly cleaned teeth shine too much through the Internets.

Yesterday, I went to a German Dentist for the first time. I had asked around a few times in the past for the name of a good local dentist to use. I finally found one and made an appointment for 'teeth cleaning and check up' a few weeks ago.

My appointment was at 8:30am. When, I finally found the place (in the old part of Grafenwohr) and announced myself... I was given the typical form to fill out. However, it was only one page and really only wanted to know my mailing address and my home phone number and if I was allergic to anything/medical conditions/etc. Easy.

While sitting there waiting, I did pull out my knitting. I am knitting a shawl as a gift for a friend's mother's 80th birthday that is coming up soon. I just feel that when one has made it to their 80th birthday- that they deserve a hand-knitted gift- even if I have never met the person! This is actually the 3rd or 4th of these gifts that I've made for friends over the years for their mothers or grandmothers for their 80th birthday. They've always been un-requested and I hope that they have been appreciated. I knitted on it just enough to knit only a few stitches and then had to shove my knitting back in my bag when they called my name...

I only noticed, after I had knitted a few more rows later in the day- did I notice that I had dropped a 'yarn over' (a delibertly made hole) when I stuffed the knitting in my purse. Sigh

I do admit that I looked at it and wondered if the now 'non-hole' lacy design element (from the now 'non-dropped yarn over) at the edge of the knitting... was noticeable or not? Of course, you could tell it was noticeable; since all the other rows had this nice open lace stitch at the end of all rows. In the end... I did take out the several rows of knitting and added the 'yarn over' back where it belonged.

After I had followed the lady into one of the 'rooms'... she asked me my name again and if I was here for "PROFESSIONAL TEETH CLEANING?" I said, "YES", that I was here for 'teeth cleaning and a check-up' and that it had been 3 years since I've seen a dentist. (I know, I know... I'll explain later about that detail)

So, the second time that she mentioned, "Professional TEETH CLEANING?" with a definite questioning lift to her voice? And, then when she mentioned that it would cost 90 euros (about $140.00)I'm thinking... a couple of things:

1. Is 'non-professional teeth cleaning' what I do at home with
my toothbrush and floss?

2. Maybe I should have worn different shoes so I'd look like I could afford to pay for a "PROFESSIONAL TEETH CLEANING JOB"???? I had thought that my other clothing choices were appropriate for a day of doctor visiting?

I assured her that I did have EURO CASH with me to pay for the procedure and at the mention of EURO in my purse... she started the "PROFESSIONAL TEETH CLEANING"....

Finally, assured that she wouldn't have to oversee me sterilizing the dental tools for non-payment (the dental office version of washing dishes at a restaurant for non-payment).... she started the 'PROCEDURE'... and what a procedure it turned out to be!

First step,
I was directed to rinse my mouth with this vile, thickish, red liquid for 30 seconds. She stepped out of the room when she noticed that I was tracking the time on my watch. Of course, I secretly think that she was actually listening on the other side to the door, and watching the seconds on her own watch, to see if she could trust me.

I'm not sure what the red liquid was for... but, maybe it like those tablets that you have the kids chew on to show them where they missed 'brushing' ???? Either that, or a sterilization process for my mouth before any more of the 'PROESSSIONAL TEETH CLEANING' could continue?

2nd Step:

She used the whirling tool that is usually used with the toothpaste like flavored powder for teeth cleaning in the states.... WITHOUT ANYTHING applied to my teeth but the whirling grinding tool. *I'm thinking... "Hum, bare bones cleaning"

3rd Step:

She used those thin picking tools to scrape the tarter build-up from between the teeth and at the gum line. You know the tool that always feels like it's the thickness of an actual toothpick... but, they somehow manage to force it between your teeth instead BECAUSE IT IS MADE OUT OF METAL?

4th Step:

She held up this '12 inch long' big tool like a 'power drill' for use inside the mouth and pointed to the white powder in the bottom area... and told me that she would use it next. She also said: "IT DOES NOT TASTE GOOD, LIKE SALT with LEMON!" *She also covered my eyes with a towel for protection.

A more accurate description would be: I'm going to use this hammer like, 12 inches or longer, sandblasting tool inside the mouth that uses a powdered marble-like, sand-blasting material... tasting like a mixture of salt and lemon... to really add some BURNING to any of the gum areas that had already suffered cuts, scrapes from any of the previous PROFESSIONAL TEETH CLEANING procedures, etc... all to make the customer THINK TWICE about admitting that they had not HAD their teeth cleaned for 3 YEARS EVER AGAIN! To really make an impression, I will do this particular procedure for about 30 minutes. I really have to get the 'tarter build-up' for this to be a PROFESSIONAL TEETH CLEANING. *She did tell me that this was to remove the cigarette smoking and coffee build-up. (I don't partake of either one- so, I'm hoping for an instant whitening of my teeth.)

*I'm also wondering if she THINKS that my teeth are the RESULT of cigarette smoking and coffee drinking?

Step 5:

Have the patient SWISH and SPIT THE NOW BLOODY WATER into the basin by the dental chair. (none of that rinsing your mouth for you with that water pick-like thing)

Step 6:
Use the metal 'toothpick' sized pick between the teeth and at the gum line some more.

Step 7:

Finally, use the flavored powdered stuff with the grinding/swirling tool to polish the teeth.

Step 8: The actual dentist came in and I did admit to her that I had not been to the dentist in 3 years... and that when the dental torture girl (hygenist) had done her various procedures... that I couldn't help but notice that one particular tooth was very painful and could we get an X-Ray to make that nothing was wrong on the inside? *She did mention that she was afraid that I might have a new cavity under my crown. The crown is located right next to this SUPER SENSITIVE PAINFUL tooth.

Step 9: X-ray time.
I went to another room. I had to stand and put my head in this device meant to hold my head steady in every direction. My chin had to rest on a white metal piece and then I had to put a plastic piece between my teeth and bite down. A lot of time was spent making sure that my head was exactly in the center-- I could tell that this was the PLAN from the light shining across my face in a 'plus-sign' shape... I learned that the center of the nose tip must be exactly in the center. The device was actually about an inch too high for me to stand there comfortably, but... I wasn't about to say anything about it and just did my best to stretch my spine out.

She finally noticed that I wasn't quite as tall as she had thought and lowered the device about a half an inch and it was immediately more comfortable.

Step 10:

I got my first ever flouride treatment (flouride isn't in the water here) painted to my teeth... while waiting for the dental X-rays to be ready and viewed by the dentist. I was warned that I couldn't eat or drink anything for 45 minutes. Bad news, since I really wanted some water to drink and if I'd been a drinking person... I might have needed a drink at 10:00am after my "PROFESSIONAL TEETH CLEANING" was over.

Step 11:
X-rays were ready. They used an machine that gave you a full mouth view from the sides and front like they used at the dental practice that I used in Seoul, South Korea. I was so happy when she told me that there were NO NEW CAVITIES... just a tooth that had become SUPER SENSITIVE over the past 3 years. I think it's just sensitive to: PROFESSIONAL TEETH CLEANING since I've never noticed any other problems with it.

I was dismissed at 10:10am. Yes, this procedure had taken an hour and a half!!! My teeth felt so clean- that I didn't want to eat ever again. Total cost? 279 euros= lots of MONEY.

Now for the reason that I haven't been to the dentist in 3 years. Getting my teeth cleaned and checked out is something that I do every year... (honest) but, when I moved here... After being here for about a year, I asked around and couldn't find anyone. I found a few names of dentists that others warned me NOT TO GO TO THEM though. I didn't have the $$$ to visit the states my first year here - so, I stayed in Germany for the summer. Last summer?... I was only in the states for a very short time, and I couldn't get an appointment... no one was taking new patients and I didn't have 3 months to wait for an apppointment to become available (my summer vacation isn't that long- nor was I going to be the in the states that long)... so, I just continued to ask around 'every so often' for dentist recomendations.

I got far more done for my first ever German "PROFESSIONAL TEETH CLEANING" than I have at any dentist in any country or state in America- that I have had personal experience with... She did a great job!

Later in the morning, I had a pedicure, and then after lunch, I went to see another doctor for some blood work done. Yes, they couldn't get blood out of my veins and had to take 4 big vials of the stuff from the veins in my hand. Sigh, I absolutely hate getting my blood taken out. I don't cause a scene or anything- but, I can't look and can't stand having it done. Add a snake into the mix and I'd die from fright.

So, that concludes Day 3 and Monday of Spring Break. Pretty exciting huh?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Let the HOLIDAY begin...

Today, at 3:05 pm was the offical start of: SPRING BREAK!!

I am so ready for a holiday. I have been busy getting all the 3rd quarter grades recorded on-line for my 'almost 700 students' last week. Problem was, I thought we had ONE MORE WEEK and I found out that I was very wrong.

I'm doing what is referred to as a: "Stay-cation"
or in other words... I'm staying here.

Today, at work... the electricity went off at 11:00... yes, right when my lunch started. I was glad that I had brought a 'salad' from home today; otherwise, I would have had COLD FOOD without my microwave to heat my lunch up!

I had stepped in the hallway after I dismissed my class for lunch and I saw the middle school teacher that teaches next door to my classroom... and I whispered to him... "Just 3 more hours before our holiday starts!" He looked at me and jokingly said, "I don't know what schedule you are following- but, I have 4 more hours left before the holiday starts." He was correct of course... since, both schools... end at the same time of the day.

Well, the end of the day finally arrived... Earlier in the day, -I had been busy packing up all the school supplies stored on the ledges and counters... (all teachers had to do it before we left for the day today)... because they are cleaning the windows during spring break. Once the first graders were dismissed from art room, I got up on the counters and was standing there balanced trying to rip off the strapping tape... and removing the art posters that I had placed on the windows earlier in the year, in an effort to block the sun- since, I don't have blinds on any of these windows... (no air conditioning in our school either) and the bell dismissing the students for the middle had just rung... they are dismissed 10 minutes after the elementary children are dismissed...

AND... the teacher next door came into my room... immediately after the 'dismissal bell' finished ringing and said to me: "NOW, we are on HOLIDAY!" It was pretty funny! I think he had been waiting to say that to me all afternoon after my 'time-telling' blunder.

What have I done to celebrate so far?

Tonight, I went out to eat GREEK FOOD with a few friends. Since, it had turned chilly again, (Ok, it hasn't been really warm yet) I got some great bean soup, garlic bread, a small salad, and some sort of bean/goat cheese/sauce baked dished. ALL very tasty and too much food to eat.

I drove back on base to get gas and I bought a real Dr. Pepper and a Butterfinger candy bar to celebrate. Yes, my joys are sometimes pretty simple. I stopped drinking all sodas about 2-3 months ago. However, sometimes I do buy one real Dr. Pepper as a nice treat. I never buy candy bars... so, I'm going to enjoy eating it.

Other news? We actually had SNOW falling on Wednesday this week... no accumulation- but, you know it just shouldn't snow in late April either. My tulips have started coming up out of the ground... no blooms yet.

My big holiday plans? I'm staying here for break. I have several doctor appointments, a couple of physical therapy appointments, haircut, and a pedicure appointment. I need to do some 'dreaded' paperwork, clean house, sort things, (yuck) I might even really step it up and get my car washed. Such excitement, right?

For fun, I am going to a small yarn shop that is in a nearby city on Thursday (after one of the doctor appointments), and I'm taking a friend to go shopping at a couple of shops found at an area called: 'glass road' More about that later this week. I'm also going to take most of one day to just: watch old movies, knit, and simply just rest and enjoy not having to do anything.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Unexpected finds...

Last fall, I went to Poland on a Polish Pottery shopping trip. I bought some items for myself and some of the pottery for gifts.

When I was almost out of money- we stopped at one of the last stops that had about 4 different Polish Pottery shops in the area. I only went into 2 of the shops. On my way to the shop that was 'across' the street from where the bus was parked- I saw a store selling 'antique' items. I didn't go inside-because I knew that I'd find something that I wanted and it would be sad- since, I didn't have much $ left. I find that for myself, it's best to not go looking around and find something wonderful that I can't buy because I don't have any money left. So, I've learned that as the saying goes: "Ignorance is bliss" can sometimes be true.

As we prepared to cross the highway, we walked by the this shop and I did notice one of those old wooden sleds. I commented on it and said that I'd always wanted to have one- but, being from a state that didn't really do 'sledding' when I was a child- you never saw old sleds for sale anywhere. If it snowed enough; we just used cardboard boxes, old car hoods (my uncle's invention when I was a child and it worked great), things like that. When I was a child, I didn't know anyone who had a sled of any type.

On my return back to the bus; the owner of the shop was there and he spoke to me in English and asked me if I was interested in the sled. I paused and asked how much it was and moments later I saw the previously 'un-noticed' price written in Euro on the sled. It was far more than I had with me and I still had to buy dinner when we stopped along the way during the long 6 hour bus ride back.

I learned how to negotiate prices when I lived in Asia, however, I didn't even have to do any negotiating-since, he started bargining the price on his own. I was able to buy the sled and have enough money left for dinner.

We stashed the old sled under the bus amongst the boxes of Polish Pottery that had been purchased throughout the day. It looked rather unique stored with all of the boxes and was given a lot of admiring glances and questions about where/how I'd found such a nice sled while we were out Polish Pottery shopping.

I placed it in my living room and used it as part of my holiday decorating this winter.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Power of Music..........

I'm sure that most of you have songs that once you hear them, they take you immediately back to a different time and/or place or maybe they bring back memories, people, a particular mood, a feeling, situations, events, or perhaps even a moment frozen in time?

One particular song for me is the song: American Pie by Don McClean

It was a hot summer night in the 1970's in Oklahoma and I was about 17 or 18 years old. My date had just brought me home and we were outside, sitting on the hood of my boyfriend's car, talking under the big gnarled old oak tree standing guard in front of my grandmother's house. I lived in the country and the night air was full of crickets chirping the temperature. I can still remember the night full of twinkling stars. Stars just don't seem as bright anymore either.

My boyfriend was very tall; about 6' 4" to my 5' 6 inches. The song American Pie came on the car radio and we were softly singing along with the lyrics. Soon my friend stretched out his hand and we started slow dancing to the music. Everytime I hear that song, I am transported back to that time with my entire world ahead of me... life full of promises and the unknown.

Another song that brings me immediately back to a frozen moment in time, happened the first time that I heard the song. I had moved to the Philippines as an art teacher at Clark Air Force Base in the fall of 1989. It was always hot, muggy, and humid in the Philippines. I lived off-base and I had been on base visiting with a friend. I was driving my little red 1973 Volkswagon Karmann Ghia with the windows down to let some of the night air, which is barely cooler than daytime air, flow through the car. I was driving along the perimeter wall of the base on the road that would wind about and eventually lead me to the main gate turning left to the 'off-base' road and on to my house.

It was August 1, 1990 and this particular night just happened to be the night 'before' it had been announced that war would or wouldn't start in Iraq which later became known as Desert Storm.

I had just driven past my school and was on the curve going down to the area where the road dipped down sharply. There was a bamboo forest located here and the air always seemed very still and eerily quiet. Or maybe I always felt that way since the military guys had found the huge boa constrictor in this area that was featured on the miltiary news one night? It was so large that it was being held up by about 12 men.

I was on the uphill part of the road when a song came on, sung in such a crystal clear voice, with such beautiful stirring words... that I actually started crying. The tears continued to flow unheaded and I finally had to pull my car over until the song was over.

The song which to me had lyrics that were so fitting for our world and a night full of brave young men and women... just waiting to see what the future hours would hold for them... how lives would be forever changed.

The song?

From a Distance by Bette Midler

From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.

From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace,
it's the voice of every man.

From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.

From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They're the songs of every man.
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves,
it's the heart of every man.

It's the hope of hopes, it's the love of loves.
This is the song of every man.
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching.
God is watching us from a distance

Do you have a song that transports you back to a memory? A person? If so, please share your song.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Signs of spring in Germany?

These little green mesh fences start sprouting up along the roads along the small ponds, streams, and river banks.

What are they for you might ask? Good question...

So, as the waters begin to thaw along with the frogs who suddenly find that they have a desire to meet other 'unthawed frogs' for some spring time fun... The Germans put up the fences along the roads wherever water does gather... to protect the frogs.

Apparently, it is someone's paid job to check every so often and remove any frogs trapped on one side of the green mesh fence and take these frogs wanting to meet 'frog friends' to the other side of the fence which is where the larger water areas are located.

The little green mesh fences on both sides of the roads... help keep the frogs from being SMASHED on the roads as they try to find frog friends/families.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Eat, Pray, Love

Some of you might have read the book or have watched the movie based on the book: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

When my friends and I went to Bali in April 2008, they had both read the book- but, I hadn't (shhh, I still haven't) read it at that time. They were determined that we would find the Medicine Man/ guru that was mentioned in the book so that we could get our fortunes told.

We hired a local guy to help us find this man and drive us to see him. Our tour guy had to ask around a lot and he finally got a lead and off we went. We did manage to find him. He was quite charming. It was a fun adventure and he liked that we were all 3 teachers. He told us that teachers were very important.

Oh my fortune? He told me that I would marry a good man, a man with enough money that we would never have to worry, and he would be a man would would always love me. He did seem to mention something about this man being a good lover too!

All I can say is, "Hey, Ketut, (the medicine man/guru that gave us our fortunes) I'm still waiting."

I guess that I should have asked him WHEN??? ha ha

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The SUN came out today.... Maybe, MAYBE spring will arrive in Germany SOON?

The sun shines so rarely in Germany from October until the end of March; that I actually took a photo of one of these rare days of sunshine about 3 months ago.

The endless grey overcast skies really do get to me. You can just sense a lightness in everyone's spirit when the sun breaks through and shines down on us during our long, long, enduring winters. Of course, we are still wearing winter coats around here- so, this one rare sunshiny day does not mean that WINTER IS OVER! I have had a heavy frost on my car windshield 2 out of the previous 5 mornings. I have also noticed a heavy frost on the grounds during my morning drives to work.

I'm going to go and check the progress on my tulips tomorrow. I have planted a variety of tulips during each of my three falls that I have lived here.

The first spring here, after being initially excited to see the tulips that I had planted that fall; I was later quite disappointed to discover that the garden snails deemed some of my tulips as a quite tasty dessert item and devoured them to the ground!

I went to bed early last night and I'm feeling a little better today. I came home from work and made home-made soup for dinner tonight. I'll have plenty for a few other meals too!

I'm sure that most of you have been enjoying spring-like weather for a few weeks now and I hope that we will soon enjoy spring-like weather here too.

Snowfall around here happens from October until the end of April. It has snowed in March and April the three past winters that I've lived here. However, this March, while being cold hasn't been as snowy as the past 2 winters were. YEAH~

Monday, March 21, 2011

Some Days are Like That....

You feel weary, lack of energy, and consider going to bed super early that night.

It's either tiredness or I'm getting that 'evil' bronchitis or pneumonia again! I was dragging last night too.

*I took the photo in April 2008 while visiting the "Monkey Forest" in Bali. My friends and I also tracked down the guru that was talked about in the book: "Eat, Love, Pray"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Woke up at 5:15am on a SUNDAY

Why body? WHY?

I tried to go back to sleep. I used all of my life-long tricks to try to fool my body; no lights being turned on, I flipped my body over to the 'other side' which had the added bonus of not having the 'time' on the alarm clock in view, I stuck one leg out from under the covers, I smushed up my pillow, I smoothed out my pillow. Nothing helped.

So, after about 20 minutes I finally gave in and got up.

I guess I should make a list of things to do before work tomorrow:

1. Laundry This is not an easy task in Germany- the wash and dry cycles
take a long, long, long time.

2. Pick up the mess that I made while looking for paperwork yesterday.
I'd love to have just enough money to hire an assistance to take
care of things like paperwork- because, you know that they wouldn't
have to LOOK FOR PAPERWORK and thus wouldn't MAKE A MESS looking
for it in the first place.

3. Write a few emails and a couple of real letters.
I have 2 friends that we only correspond with letters as we have for
the past 21 years. Truthfully, I like getting what I call:

4. Clean out the fridge -Toss anything that is bad or is going
to go bad in the next few days into the 'refuse trash' which I call
the BAD FOOD TRASH that goes in the BLACK CONTAINER that will be
picked up by the 'refuse trash' people on Monday.

*When I first moved here, I had to associate the colors
of the bins w/ the type of trash that goes into the different colored containers.
The refuse trashcan is BLACK and so, I use the term BAD FOOD to help me remember the type of 'trash' that goes into that container. The paper recycle bin is GREEN- so, trees make paper and the leaves are GREEN. The yellow bag trash is made out of YELLOW PLASTIC and the recycle trash that goes inside? Plastics, styrofoam, and foil pieces. Hey, you do what you can when the words written on the sides of the containers, to let you know what goes inside, are written in a foreign language.

*Trash pick up in my little community is limited to once a month for the different types of recycling and the 'bad food' trash is picked up twice a month. So, you don't want to miss any of the recycling days. Not that I would have had any personal experience in having missed the recycle days in the past or ANYTHING like THAT.

5. Cook SOMETHING that I can have for dinner and for lunch at work for a couple of days.

See, I told you it was pretty dull here.

*I'm not going to add 'cleaning up the house' because even living alone... that is something that I have to do on a regular basis. Problem is- I have no one to blame but myself if things are not put back where they belong/etc. Maybe I should start having an 'invisible friend' to blame the messes on- like young children imagine?

I haven't been knitting anything in the past several weeks.

Reason? I woke up one morning with a 'stiff neck' and thought that I had just slept crooked or something like that. Well, as the morning progressed- things got worse and soon I wasn't able to turn my neck in ANY direction. Of course, it would have to happen on a SATURDAY morning, right? I went through pain and no sleeping because of the neck situation until work was over on Monday. After the students left my room for the day, I went down to see one of my teacher friends- who had briefly saw a local physical therapist in the German town near the base. (she'd had knee surgery in the states that summer)

I asked her who she saw and she gave me the location of this guy. I went straight to his office and begged to be seen that AFTERNOON/NIGHT. He agreed to stay late and saw me at 7pm after all of his appointments for the day were over. I found out that he could only give me a neck/shoulder massage without doctor orders for physical theraphy. However, this massage, was enough that I was finally able to sleep for 4 hours that night. It's now been several weeks of therapy and I think that I'm well enough to start a new knitting project... or 'shh' pick up something that isn't finished.

So, what have you been doing? I'm sure much more exciting things than I have been doing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Famous last words... or I plan to start posting to my blog again real SOON...

Well, there were several factors that have kept me from posting entries to my blog:

1. I live in the boonies and not much happens... I figure no one wants to hear
about how much snow has fallen each day, right?

2. Super slow Internet compared to what I had in Korea and that makes posting
photos a chore. *Often the photos will time-out while I'm trying to download

3. Since, it had been so long since I had posted anything- I actually forgot my password for accessing my blog and then when I would try to
to figure things out... everything was in GERMAN so 'since
I can't read GERMAN' ... I had a very frustrating time trying to figure out where
and how I could get some help with accessing my blog. The blogspot areas where
you could try to find the different help categories and help w/ blogger were all in GERMAN! I guess
that they (blogspot) could tell that my computer address was in GERMANY - so -
they just assumed that I would want all of my 'messages/areas' in German??

4. Did I mention that not much happens here?

OH, the biggest news that I do have... the LAST OF THE SNOW melted from my yard on March 15. Yes, that is the level of excitement these days.

So, dear readers... is this thing on? AND, is anyone still out there? Are you ready for some more stories, photos, and a knitting project posted every so often?