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.