Friday, April 27, 2007

A Very Special Birthday

I would like to dedicate this post to my Grandpa, or as I like to call him, he who comes from the land 'o cheese (i.e. Wisconsin). This is the same Grandpa who likes to comment on my blog when I have not written in awhile. Tomorrow is Grandpa's 80th birthday, and I thought the whole world should know.

In March I visited my equally awesome (and 80) Mo' Town Grandpa in Florida. Mo' Town Grandpa is my dad's father. After my parent's divorce when I was two, he and Mo' Town Grandma always made sure to be a part of my life. And for that I love them dearly.

However, when I was 4 I was blessed with a new Grandpa. My mom married Dad-squared and Dad-squared's big family became part of mine. German's like to call my family a "patch-work," and in many ways it is. But it one that is full of love (and just a little bit of craziness). Dad-squared and his entire family took me in and treated me like I was one of their own. They loved me and accepted me, even though they did not have to. Some might have seen my mom's two young kids as "baggage," but they did not.

Because of them, I have developed a different definition of family. Families are defined by love, not blood. We often find our families later in life, and they can be just as special as the ones we are born into.

Grandpa has spent the majority of his life in the land 'o cheese, but he was stationed in Germany just after the war. He understands a bit of German and got on famously with my in-laws at my wedding. Just before the wedding he looked at the German.

Grandpa: I hope that you are not offended if I call you the Kraut.

The German (grinning): Not as long as I can call you John-Boy.

The German and I would love, LOVE for Grandpa to come visit and take him around to his old base in Bad Neuheim. However, he is not that fond of travelling. Frankly, I am not fond of flying either, and I am not 80.

So, on this lovely weekend everyone raise your beer stein and give a toast to Grandpa.

We love you, Grandpa, and we wish you many more happy birthdays to come. Hugs, Claire and the German.

Time for a Change

Today I called in sick to work for the first time ever. Well, I mean cancelling an English lesson. I am in a little pain, and I am currently waiting for my doctor's office to open. I can hear my mom from across the Atlantic, "If it hurts, go to the doctor immediately!" Yes, I know.

Anyway, sitting in front of my computer is mildly comfortable so I decided to make a few updates to the blog.

First, although the website address is the same, I have a new title! "Cheeseburgers and Sauerkraut" is a reference to the cultural mix that is my life. Sometimes the combo makes you ill, and sometimes it is the best thing you have ever tasted. It is also the name of the novel that I want to write and never find time for.

Second, please note a very new VIP. I am co-teaching an English training seminar in Friesoythe, Germany. The class is an intense 240 hours in 6 weeks. I set up a blog for the class and every Thursday every student must write something. I do not edit the content, and the grammar only a bit. Go over and have a look. The title is Tongue Twister , which is how many of my students feel about English. Maybe leave a comment or two. They are trying really hard and it would make their day.

Third, I have deleted the blog "My Euro-American House." I decided that I have my hands full with one, and frankly I usually talk about the house on this blog as well.

Fourth, I have updated my list of favorite blogs to include "The Women." Some of them I met at Girl's Weekend and some are old friends. All of them are awesome.

Time to run to the doctor's. Stay tuned. Today is a two post day with a very special dedication coming up.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Time Flies

So, Claire, did you make it back to the U.S. in one piece? Yup.

Did Air France loose your luggage? Amazingly, no.

Did Air France convince you that 40 minutes is enough to change terminals during morning traffic at Charles de Gaulle? Yes, and they are wrong.

Are you so busy that you are not posting? Actually, no.

Although there is much English teaching to be done, I have not posted in two and half weeks (or three??) mostly because I got a bit lazy. My vacation was SOOOO good that I did not want it to end. This has resulted in too many more calories that I don’t need, sleeping late, and reading novels (I have finished 4 in three weeks), and many hours of mindless television.

The weather here has also been warm, which has driven me outside to the . . . umm . . . garden. I do not think of it as a garden, but more of a weed infested bed that will probably drive me nuts all summer.

But I HAD to post today to prove that miracles can and do happen. Look! It is my sofa!!

Isn’t she pretty? They delivered it on Saturday, as well as the bill. This made me chuckle. They are not getting any money out of me any time soon. There is still the problem of the broken love seat which was improperly repaired.

I thought a small celebration might be in order, so I am inviting a few friends over this weekend. My friends and I do not need much to be entertained: the new grill and Trivial Pursuit, the drinking edition. Unfortunately, the lack of customer service in Germany is once again thwarting my plans.

I ordered some fabulous new drapes from a local store. They are the kind of place that will send a “decorator” over with some samples. This “decorator” is supposed to measure the windows and give me “advice.” Actually, he mostly insulted my taste. But, I digress. I ordered the drapes at the end of February. The German called last Friday to find out what the heck is going on. Although they took a message, no one called us back. (I am noticing this problem in Germany. No one ever calls back.)

Yesterday morning, I took a stroll over to the store to see about the problem. Wouldn’t you know, the “decorator” was on duty.

“Decorator:” Oh, yes, Ms. Smith. Your order has come in and is sitting in the back.

Claire (a bit confused): Then why haven’t you called to make an appointment to deliver it?

“Decorator:” We have been SO busy. Let me take a look at my calendar. Doesn’t look good. In two weeks we might be able to do it.

Claire: Um, no. I am having a party and need them by Saturday afternoon. I finally got my furniture and I even picked up my posters from the framers. I want my drapes.

“Decorator:” Ms. Smith, you should have called if you wanted them.

Claire: I did. Well, my husband anyway.

“Decorator:” Oh.

DUDE! Where is all this German efficiency that I keep hearing about? And another thing, these drapes are NOT cheap. I can feel another long series of blog posts coming on. Sigh.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Tale of Two Vacations

There are two types of vacations. On the one hand, you can go somewhere (preferably warm) and sleep and eat and watch TV and basically forget the world around you. On the other hand, you can go to someplace interesting (usually expensive) and eat exotic meals and visit fascinating museums and basically fill the cultural void in your life. The German and I were in desperate need of the former. Today we entered into the latter.

Although we flew to South Carolina with a lot of nothin' on our agenda, we decided to take a weekend trip to Florida. My Detroit Grandpa (not land o' cheese Grandpa, who usually comments on the blog) spends the winter near Sarasota and turned 80 in December. We decided to pay him a visit. My favorite Uncle decided to come down to Florida on the same weekend.

You know what they say. The road to hell was paved with good intentions . . .

I am kidding. The side trip is turning into a very good thing.

The German and I left the comfy confines of Summerville on Friday at 7:30am. We were pretty confident that we would make it to our destination early, especially when we hit the Florida boarder at 11:30am. We were wrong. Florida is BIG! We finally made it to Bradenton, FL at 5:45pm.

Detroit Grandpa and my favorite Uncle like to go and see and do. The German and I like to sleep on the beach. Today we actually found a happy medium. We went to a garden/zoo place and then hit the beach for 2 hours. Then we had cocktails and dinner and watched the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Good Times, Great Food, the World's Best Family. What more could a girl ask for? (Well, perhaps that perfect bikini body that I say today.)

Before you start to hate me, know that I am currently suffering from a stomach ache and hartburn from the U.S. food. I think my body is rejecting it.