31-Day Challenge: Day 31

Ah, all good things must come to an end.

Or in the case of this, all things must come to an end.

Overall, I feel pretty satisfied with how this little experiment went. With the exception of two days, I managed to hit my writing goal on time. I don’t think anything I wrote this month knocked my socks off, but it was nice just to get back into the habit and that was really the point of the exercise.

The hardest thing about it was really what to write about. While I do have things that I find amusing or interesting or obnoxious on a daily basis, they weren’t always things I felt like I wanted to write about. And I wasn’t really interested in doing daily blow-by-blows of what I did that day. That made some days challenging, and while using the prompts was useful, there are A LOT of prompts that made me roll my eyes pretty hard. I have never thrown or attended an Oscar party, and give zero fucks about what kind of food or drink I might serve at such an event.

Also, when did people get so into the Kentucky Derby?

I do hope that I’ll be able to keep the writing itch satisfied in the future, whether or not those things make it into this space. I very much enjoyed doing some daily recording while we were on our mini-vacation this month, and I think I’d like to try doing that when we head on our big summer trip to Norway. Not everything is reserved for the trip yet, so I have no idea what the internet situation will be wherever we decide to stay, but I might consider doing a regular travelogue while we’re there. As discussed earlier this month, I am not a Travel Blogger and so I’d rather do quick updates while there than try to do big fancy schmancy posts when we get back. Or, think about doing those and never get around to it, like most vacations seem to go.

Honestly, I’d rather be in the moment and enjoying myself on vacation than trying to figure out how best to blog about it. But that’s me. You do you, Travel Bloggers of the world.

And if we end up booking a bunch of places in the middle of nowhere and there’s no internet, then that’ll decide that question. No skin off my back. But that’s all TBD.

Big thanks to those of you who read along and commented. That’s always the best part of blogging, as far as I’m concerned. I’m a crap commenter on other people’s blogs, but maybe my fancy new phone and improved internet service will make me better at it. If my train time can be more productive, that seems like a good use of data to me.

Happy June to all!

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge: Day 30

Full disclosure: yesterday was nuts and I forgot to write. It’s the end of the challenge and I was distracted. Why? Read below…

Tuesdays take a lot out of me. Why, I really don’t know, but despite the fact that I get up at the same time as other days, and have the same number of classes as on other days, they really wear me out. Now that the weather has improved, it’s much easier to do something else immediately after class rather than coming home at 4pm and collapsing onto the couch.

Over the weekend, my nearly 5-year old iPhone 4s decided it just didn’t feel like turning on anymore. It’s been doing a whole pile of interesting stuff for so long that I don’t actually know the last time it was working “right.” It went through a phase where it vibrated nearly constantly for no reason, to not vibrating at all. It made noises some times, but not all the time. Somehow the alarm always worked, but that was about the only noise that it reliably made. Since it sometimes made unexpected noises, for the last few months I’ve left the headphones plugged in constantly while in class, lest it ring and interrupt everyone. Last week it rang, with the headphones plugged in, and scared the living crap out of me. I don’t understand how that one worked, but it happened.

I’d wanted to get a new phone and contract for ages, but because this is Germany, you have to cancel a previous contract three months in advance. I originally signed a 2-year contract, and if you don’t cancel it, it automatically rolls over for another year. My old contract was up in June, and we tried to cancel it on April 1st. No dice. Either sign a new one, or you’re stuck with us a whole year more. We tried to get some offers from my provider but they were all pretty much crap and then we were both busy so that got put on the back burner again.

So when Sunday rolled around and the phone just decided it was tired of working, I had had it. I managed to force start it enough to do emergency things, like get the South Tyrol pictures off of it that I hadn’t downloaded yet, and then I put my foot down. It was time.

Yesterday after work, BV and I made the pilgrimage into the city to see what could be done. Honestly, I don’t think the deal that I ended up getting was any better than those initial offers, but we were there, I have more than 800mb of internet per month (seriously, you try living with that when you spend as much time on trains as I do), and I have a new phone with way more storage and it seems to be working correctly for now. I was a happy girl.

After we took care of that, we ran over to the optician so I could pick up my new contact lenses, and now I’m a whole new person. We celebrated by going up to one of my favorite cafes for a little rose wine and some people watching, and then did a bit more wandering around. We made the executive decision to go for Greek food, which was an excellent choice as 1) we were already in the city so might as well, 2) we hadn’t been there in ages and the owner loves BV almost as much as I do, 3) we have no groceries at home, and 4) it was too damn hot to cook anyway.

Properly fueled by zucchini balls, feta, and other Greek goodies, we made our way back home. BV retired to digest his food baby, and I started the process of trying to set up my new electronic baby. Naturally updating one thing never works on its own, so updates to the computer had to be made, things had to be retrieved from clouds (the future is now!), and next thing I knew it was past 1am.

Guess time really does fly when you are in the cloud.

I’ve nearly got things where I want them, but as per usual, I’m having a bitch of a time trying to get audio tracks for my classes onto the phone. These damn things always format in a nutty way and end up somewhere that I can’t find them, and it’s insanely frustrating. On the plus side, I no longer have to physically carry a CD player around (seriously, I did that), but it still makes me excessively cussy. Baby steps though.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge: Day 29

Today’s post gets a little salty, because it was Monday and that’s how it goes.

So. As previously mentioned on this blog, I spend an absurd amount of time on trains. I love the trains here, but I see a fair amount of questionable behavior. Or, behavior that passes as questionable on our normally quiet, commuter train, which would hardly warrant the bat of an eyelash in Berlin.

I’ve written before about the salmon-people, and have been occasionally known to mutter a quiet “jackass” when someone cuts right in front of me or won’t put down their phone while walking up or down stairs to the S-Bahn. This is a new one and I cannot WAIT until the day one of them trips on the way up or down. It’s coming, and yes, when you are walking down the stairs while watching porn on your phone, we can all see your screen.

Monday is a split day for me. Normally I have an early class, then head home to grab lunch and gather my things for my afternoon classes. I can either just make a train and be home in an hour, or just miss the train and then I need an extra 30 minutes. Today, I just missed the train, and instead of going and getting a coffee, I decided to sit in the sun and enjoy my book until the next train arrived.

Normally, I am a stander. Mostly because I don’t like the fact that 8-10 people will crowd onto/around the little 8-seater chair sets that are set up on either end of our train platform. I will happily stand rather than be smashed up next to a stranger. But today, it was hot af, I had my heavy backpack with my laptop, and since I had just missed the train there were hardly any people on the platform.

On the opposite end there were two or three people, but I never go to that end because that’s where the smoking area is. Instead, I went to my usual end and grabbed a chair. On the other side of the chair set was a mother with her young son, who was maybe four or so. When I sat down, the mom was on the phone. The kid was running around the chair sets, climbing on her, and occasionally trying to climb over the back of the chairs while staring at me. I pulled out my book and decided the best course of action was to ignore him.

He continued to run around and climb, with the mom intermittently yelling at him, and focusing on her phone call. The phone call was also on speaker, so I got to share the conversation, which I always find delightful. Eventually the kid got bored of climbing on the chairs, and decided to run between the tracks on either side of the platform. A great idea, as ICE trains come through regularly and those do not slow down. When he got bored of that, he decided that shaking the heavy metal garbage containers to see if they moved might be a good idea.

At this point, the mom finally took notice of him again, and handed the phone off to him so he could chat with Auntie or whoever the hell she was talking to. Instead, he took off running with the phone, and the mom chased after him. That call ended, or was cut off, and in my head I was thinking, “oh thank goodness that’s over,” but of course she immediately got back on the phone. To the same person or a new one, I couldn’t tell. This seems to be a theme on public transport though, and my thought is always, “hey, if the phone keeps cutting off, MAYBE WAIT UNTIL YOU’RE NOT OUTSIDE ON A TRAIN.” But no, she persevered.

Mom kept up the calls on speaker, until two older gentlemen came up and sat down in our chair set. Then she turned off the speaker, but continued her chat as the kid ran around and stared at the rest of us.

After 25 minutes, our train was finally pulling in. I got up and went to go stand next to the doors, and of course the kid comes running in front of me. The train is still moving (super safe), but mom is far behind, still on the phone. The kid runs up,  and starts stabbing at the button to open the door. When the doors open, of course all the people disembarking have to go around this little kid, because he’s still standing in the way. As the last passengers get off, the mom comes around me (HUGE pet peeve, wait until everyone is off THEN get on train), and gets on with the kid.

I’m already shaking my head at this point, when the little shit turns around, points his finger at me and shouts “NEIN!”

Oh for fuck’s sake. I look at his mom, who is of course still on the phone and say “CONTROL YOUR KID.” Yes, in English.* Which I normally avoid uttering a word of on the train lest I am outed as a foreigner.

Yes, I am becoming that person. She gave me the nastiest look at I walked off to go sit down, but seriously… you’ve been on the phone for half an hour now while your kid runs around acting like a little shit, and I’m the bad person? No.

I know kids will be kids. But when kids are being kids, perhaps get off the f-in phone and teach them how to behave in public?

I sat in my usual spot in the back of the carriage, and from that point  until they got off the train 20 minutes later, I could still hear them. The mom was still on the phone, and the kid was running from one end of the train to the other, occasionally screaming. She must have put the phone down at some point, because I could see her reflection in the ceiling as she chased him. After that he started crying and she put him in some sort of ‘time out’ situation which, judging by the reflection and the whining, was fairly short lived. But when they got off the train, she had him by one arm and the phone to her ear with the other.

Maybe it all stems from jealousy because I barely have service in the middle of the city and I don’t understand how all these people are able to chat for nearly an hour, uninterrupted as the train travels over canal and forest. It astounds me.

I also know that it’s incredibly easy for me as a childless person to be like, “hey, why don’t you teach your kid, you horrible parent, you,” but the amount of crap I witness like this on the train is amazing. It’s obnoxious enough when people can’t get off the phones while walking in high traffic areas at rush hour, but when they’re wandering about AND they’re teaching their kids that this kind of thing is okay? Nope. Nope. Can’t handle it.

End rant. Happy Monday, don’t teach your kids to be dicks.

*BV clarified for me this evening how to say it correctly in German, in both the formal and informal. I think informal is both easier and more appropriate to their behavior but that’s probably not correct. Oh well.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

 

 

31-Day Challenge: Day 28

Today is my mom’s 60th birthday. Weird.

I thought the same when my dad had his a few years ago. It didn’t seem possible, but there it was.

When you go abroad long term, it’s inevitable that you miss out on a lot of things. There are birthdays, weddings, babies, divorces, deaths. All those things that make human life human life.

They exist here too, of course, and sometimes you become part of them as well. There have been weddings and births among friends here since I’ve been here, and deaths, too. Just like the threads of life bind people together in one place, they stretch across distances as well.

Sometimes it’s easy, and a digital message of goodwill is all it takes. Other times it’s devastating, but you soldier on. Sometimes people feel that they’re missing out on too much “at home” and the time comes to return. Sometimes they don’t have a choice. Sometimes they want to return but circumstances  say not yet. Every case is different.

Though I’ve missed out on eight years of birthdays now, eight years of celebrations, I have made it back for the occasional big event. I also acknowledge that I am profoundly lucky that my parents, and some friends, have the means and health to travel here to visit. In fact, my parents are planning a Christmas trip here this year. Not everyone has that luxury, and I’m thankful for it.

It makes it a bit easier to miss those really big milestones when you know that sooner or later you’ll be able to meet in person. Then you can celebrate the birthday, or just the circumstance of being in the same place at the same time, in whatever way you see fit.

Sunday Snapshots: Outside the Chapel

Outside Prague, 2016

A set up scene from what may go down in history as one of the most fun (and hipster) weddings of all time. There was a tattoo artist. And a band, And curry. And a giant tent to sleep in, which thankfully we skipped out on as there was a complete deluge overnight.

But… one year ago on this day I got to see one of the girls from my original gangster TEFL course marry an absolutely fantastic Czech dude in a ceremony that was incredibly fitting to the both of them. It was good times.

31-Day Challenge: Day 27

The most difficult thing about my age right now…

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…probably has something to do with other people’s expectations of what a life should or should not look like.

Being from where I’m from in Wisconsin, being over 30, not being married (or divorced), and not having had a few kids, I’m basically a unicorn. People I went to high school with are on their second (or third) marriages, and have kids going to their own high school proms. Or graduating. It’s wild.

When I was kid I remember making the Barbies play wedding, but I also remember throwing a knock-off ‘Ken’ doll that looked like Elvis and came in a bathrobe that wouldn’t have been out of place in Hugh Hefner’s closet, across the room because my Barbies didn’t like him. Apparently they also preferred blondes.

I remember one of the first “couples” getting “married” on the playground on Valentine’s Day when we were in the fourth grade. Some of the teachers got quite angry that they were being disrespectful, but I was mostly confused by the whole thing. After that it was just kids pairing up and having their first boyfriends and girlfriends in fifth and sixth grade, but (as mentioned in earlier posts) this nerd remained puppy-love free. No awkward middle school dances for this girl, and lots of playing look out so one of my less-nerdy friends could hold hands with their crush on the bus.

The first official boyfriend finally rolled into the picture at 16, complete with pink tips and Jnco jeans. The late 90s were really weird. That was a good experience, in the end, but I went to college single. I was especially grateful for that as I watched all my new friends painfully try to hold their high school sweetheart relationships together for the majority of freshman year. Unsurprisingly it didn’t work out for any of them, though many of them went on to enter a series of long-term relationships throughout the four years.

Some even married those guys shortly after graduation. Similar to high school sweethearts, those unfortunately had varying levels of success.

There are a few conversations I distinctly remember having over the years. One of them came when I first met my random roomie (Courtney of the House Hunters extravaganza). She couldn’t wait to marry her high school beau, and had already picked out what sports all the kids would play. She was an athlete in high school and so was he, but the fact that she had put thought into that absolutely blew my mind.

Other girls routinely read bridal magazines, and cried over TLC’s ‘A Wedding Story,’ which mostly made me want to staple things to the subject’s heads. Who were these people?

Another memorable evening of summer drinks led to one of our friends proclaiming that she just wanted “to be pregnant in summer and wear lots of flowing dresses.” Or she said muumuus, and my memory just wants to be kinder to that statement… hard to say. But again, this was something that she had thought about?

For years, I had absolutely no interest in having kids, my rationale being that there were so many dogs in the world without homes. And kids, for that matter. Now it doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the world anymore, and some of our friends have created some of my favorite tiny little people on Earth. But I’m over 30 and I’m not exactly panicking that BV and I haven’t taken that step yet.

And yes, I do want to get married at some point in time but again, while it has been discussed… we’ve been together nearly five years so of course it’s come up… not panicking over that either. We’re very happy together, have built a pretty solid little life with each other, and that’s really enough.

I’m also profoundly thankful that the people who know me well are not the kind to be all *wink wink nudge nudge* on these kinds of things. I know a lot of people get a lot of pressure on these matters and “when are you going to get married/have kids/buy a house/get that pony” can get really old really fast. I’ve got no patience for that and if people know that about me and are too scared to ask those questions, honestly, I’m kind of okay with that.

At this point, I’m living a fairly conventional life, apart from the fact that I’m doing it in a foreign country, and we don’t have any paperwork to prove it. And that is good enough for me.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge: Day 26

Describe a walk around your block…

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We don’t really have a block, so to speak, at least not in the traditional grid sense of your typical American city. Instead, I’ll tell you a bit about my new walking route, which has been deemed “Upper Dorf.”

A couple years ago when I started walking and trying (unsuccessfully) to jog, I formed a “Lower Dorf” route. I still like that route, but it involves crossing a lot more streets, even going directly through a new neighborhood, and frankly, there’s just more people than I like to see when I’m wandering about.

BV went questing into the forest one day in search of dirt (don’t ask), and discovered a new trail, which has now become part of a larger track that I’ve been developing.

As I mentioned a few posts back, since getting the Fitbit, I’ve been trying to get those ten thousand steps a day that we all supposedly need. I’ve got my new trail down to right about nine thousand, which ensures that even on the laziest days, as long as I do that, we’re good to go.

To start off, we leave the house and go around the train station. Don’t make eye contact with the loitering teenagers, and watch out for broken glass on the ground. Also, if they’re having noise contests with their scooters, just ignore them. Passing by the small area of rowhouses and the old station building, go through a gate and under an archway of flowering bushes. This will bring you out in a duplex’s parking area, but just go around the house and turn right back towards the street.

At the next street take a left and in a few steps you’ll be onto the gravel road that goes to some of the local garden plots. Past them, the gravel street narrows to a bike path that connects us to the next village. But we’re not going that far. The short stretch of trees on the right will come to an end, and then you turn right too. Across the field and past the fish ponds, go up the hill and you’ll come to another gravel service road and a few isolated garden houses.

Off to the right you might hear some traffic, but that’s our direction. When you come to the street, check for cars of course, and then go across. It doesn’t look like much now that everything is blooming, but there’s a small path through the forest here. After a quick uphill climb, the path will widen and more paths will come and cross at every which angle. Despite the myriad of trails, it’s rare to see more than a dog walker or an old farmer checking on his trees here. Keep going straight and after passing through the thickly planted area inside a fence, start to the bear to the right. Coming to the top of another small hill, you’ll see another street, which we’re crossing again.

Through another small field with three carp ponds waaaay off to the left, and we’re back onto a gravel farm road. A quick pass under the trees and then a great expanse is in front of you. Depending on the season the squares in front are brown, green, yellow, or right now, all of the above dappled with wildflowers. Time is of no importance and the sun is shining, so again we’ll turn left. On a sunny day all around the field we can look off in the distance and see the Nürnberg TV tower, and beyond that, the soft blue outlines of the hills that surround the city.

The long straight road comes to an intersection. In front of you to the left and the right are small fields with horses. Turn right, passing horses and freshly turned over ground on the left, and a field of waving grasses on the right. A few more minutes brings a T-junction, with more horses to the left. Left also goes to the next village, so we’ll turn right. The road abandons its square lines here, instead snaking into the forest. We follow that through a stretch of forest and come out on the edge of yet another grassy field.

Off to the right we can see a few farm buildings, but let’s turn left again. Around the square we go, today having to pass around two cars that are parked side-by-side on the small farm road, while their owners have a chat. A few more turns and we pass by a dog walker, nodding hello to both man and dog.

Three sides of the field pass by, bringing us to the front of the farm buildings. A sign advertises fresh eggs and milk, and the occasional cow can be heard from deep inside an enormous barn. We caught glimpses of the chickens as we passed by the hedge, but they much have a much quieter rooster than our neighbors.

The farm buildings are connected to yet another village by a long allée lined with birch trees. We follow the trees, just keeping up with a tractor kicking us dust far off in the field to the left. Another patch of forest behind the field on the right comes closer and closer until the field narrows and the forest meets the road. Here we turn right again.

Following the edge of the forest on the right and another field on the left, we start to hear a faint humming sound. It grows louder and louder, and then between the trees we see the outline of some brightly painted boxes. The beehives are open for business. A safe distance away is an insect hotel, where a few bees buzz in and out, in addition to its other residents.

Circling another field we have a view to the skyline of our own small village. Most of the houses are shielded from view by trees that are bright green, though just a few weeks ago they were white with blossoms. Now the white blossoms are all around us, as we’ve left the farm field behind and are crossing through a grassy meadow. Ahead of us the first farm field grows closer and closer, the yellow heads of the rapeseed waving in a slight breeze.

The field gradually slopes uphill, until we come to the first intersection we met. Reversing our path, it’s back through the trees, across the roads, through the forest paths, back around the train station with its loitering youths, and home again. Now it’s time for a book, a sunny spot in the garden, and a loooooong drink of water. Or a beer, your choice.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary. 

31-Day Challenge: Day 25

Today was Father’s Day in Germany, but since it’s conveniently paired up with the Ascension of Christ holiday, pretty much everybody has the day off.  Most men, fathers or not, typically spend this day dragging wagons of beer around while they gallivant with their friends. The ones that do spend time with their families are almost deserving of a special reward, or at least so says the internet.

Last year I remember spending most of the sunny day laying out in the garden with a book. At some point during the day, a literal tractor full of youths starting circling the village, blasting music as they drank their way up and down the streets. This year it was much quieter, so perhaps they decided to drive their tractor on over to another town.

We’re still in recovery mode from vacation, and were in thorough need of a real day off. I did a little bit of cleaning and sorting of things, and BV did some more work out in the garden. He’s now made a permanent spot for the tripod, but we’ll still need to make a real fire circle to go around it. But, baby steps. He’s also got the day off tomorrow, and the weather is supposed to be glorious for some more weekend barbecue action.

As far as I know, I have two classes in the morning, and it seems that myself and my two students will be the only people working in the country. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, as we haven’t met in a few weeks due to my vacation last week and their schedules prior to that. Also this is the same company that asked for a trial lesson during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. In my nearly six years in Germany, that has only happened once. Still weird.

The good news is though, that I’ll be done at noon, home by one, and can relax after that. I’d like to take a crack at getting the garden in order this weekend, but that would involve driving to the Gardener, and I’m not sure BV plans on starting the car again until Monday. There are worse ways to spend the weekend than not doing anything. And given how packed June and July are, we’ll be rather short on relaxation time.

As of right now, we’ve got a friend’s party, a Polterabend, and a wedding in June, then one free weekend before we leave for vacation. Chances are though, that the last free weekend will be filled with either an invitation to BV’s parents, or them wanting to come to us for grilling, and then that’ll be shot too. I know time flies when you’re having fun and all, but this girl needs her quiet time. Classes are pretty much running as scheduled as well, so not much chance of a break there. But vacation is looming and that’s what I’m shooting for. Last week was fantastic, like a little appetizer. We can get there.

31-Day Challenge: Day 24

Write about the places featured on postcards you’ve received in the mail.

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We have a little shelf space in front of our stereo where we always put the postcards we’ve gotten recently in the mail. I’m a big fan of both sending and getting postcards, although sometimes I am much better at writing them, than actually getting them in the mail. BV on the other hand, is extremely organized, with an excel spreadsheet of addresses for just such an occasion. The only flaw in the plan is that sometimes those addresses are not correct. We discovered this when once again, his mom did not receive the postcard we sent her from Ireland, and he learned that he was about three numbers off on the address. In a small town it would probably slide by and end up in the right place (my parents have a notoriously tricky address to spell), but her street is apartment block after apartment block.

I think my fascination with postcards goes back a long ways, as I remember my great-grandma Merry (of the aforementioned Norwegian heritage) having a whole photo album filled with postcards that she’d received over the years. Some were from nearby, some where from much more far-flung places, but they had all found their way to her, and to this little album. One of these days I might do the same thing, and start filing ours away.

My grandparents also sent postcards from their vacations almost religiously. The messages were mostly about what they did that day, and always included the weather. Not that there was much variation in Florida temperatures, but it was good to have the reassurance that everything was in order.

At our house the moment there’s a bit of a mix on display, as well as stacked up on top of the stereo. There are two wedding invitations, one that has passed, and one that is yet to come. There are two thank-you cards from last year’s wedding celebrations. There’s a birth announcement as well as a photo Christmas card.

There’s a blank postcard from Salzburg, which was hand-delivered by a friend of mine who knows of my eternal love for the most perfect city on the river. Another postcard comes from Reit im Winkl, from our Airbnb host that we’ve visited a few times now. Apparently once you’ve passed a certain visit number, you get a Christmas card as well as a summer favor. Can’t go wrong there.

Another postcard celebrates the German-Austrian border, and came from BV’s parents last summer. Yet another shows a cairn, and came from not so far away in the Oberpfalz. That one came from the Gardeners, who know of BV’s enthusiasm for stones. Our postcard from them last year was from somewhere around the Baltic Sea, and simply showed the smooth stones found on the beaches there.

Somewhere in the office, hastily moved away in the last rounds of pre-Christmas cleaning, are postcards from Africa, from the Mediterranean, from Asia. We have some well-traveled friends. I also tend to collect postcards from places, sometimes just to get those shots that it’s nearly impossible to get yourself. I’ve bought postcards from the Trinity College Library, and other places where taking pictures are prohibited.

Two of the best things that I’ve acquired in my years abroad are two vintage postcards. On a long, long, walk around the enormous Vienna flea market where my friend Cassie was hunting for gifts for her sprawling family, I happened to find these two beauties. Printed on heavy board and dating from the turn of the century, one pictures the Powder Tower in Prague, and one pictures the Opera House. Though I was still living in the Golden City at that time, I knew that these would be treasures to me long after I had moved on. On my list of things to do this year is to get them in frames. Practically speaking, vintage postcards do not fit in any off-the-shelf frames, so that’s a project to figure out exactly how to display them.

Postcards are incredibly simple, but such a bright light sometimes. There’s nothing cheerier than opening the mailbox to find a quick note from a far away place. When cleaning through my childhood bedroom over Christmas, I found quite a few that had made their way into the folds of books and corners of drawers. Most of them were ones from my grandparents on those frequent trips to Florida. I was okay with saying goodbye to a lot of things from that old room, but many of those postcards went into the boxes of things that are to be kept. For what, I’m not sure. But, for now it doesn’t matter.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.

31-Day Challenge: Day 23

Today was my first real day back to work. My last class yesterday ended up cancelling, which I expected, but that meant there was no easing back into the week. Perhaps it’s better in the end though, as this week is shortened anyway due to Thursday’s holiday. I think I work Friday morning, but I haven’t had confirmation yet so we shall see.

A full day of class today was almost enough to knock me out of commission, but since the weather was sunny and warm, the beer garden in the next village beckoned. We’re fairly regular visitors over there and on warm summery days, there’s not much better.

There was the usual village traffic on our walk over, from little girls on rollerblades to dogs leaping through the grass. This time of year I usually see enough cats wandering around in the evening that I start to get suspicious that they’re organizing something. The beer garden is on the “main road” in the village, but the vast majority of the traffic is from the tractors as they run in and out of town to the fields and back. My favorites are the old men who take the grandkids with them, the little ones hanging off and around the driver’s seat. There’s also a guy who often travels with his dog in the cab. He appears to be secured with a leash, but it’s hard to tell. No leashes on the kids, as far as I can see.

The beer garden is attached to a small country hotel, and there are always a few dogs  on the terrace as well. Those typically belong to the visitors, but there are usually a few cats wandering about that belong to the hotel. On warm summer days, you have to look before sitting down as often a cat will have curled up on the chair cushions.

In between the tractors rumbling past, there are often people whizzing by on race bikes, or the local beer truck making deliveries from the drink market. There are a fair few regulars that we see there as well, including the waitstaff.

Even if it’s the same place, it’s always nice to go there and see the changing flowers in the window boxes, and to track the progress of the enormous chestnut tree that pokes up through the middle of the terrace. This time of year, it drops light pink flowers on your head, and it’s necessary to put the beer coaster on top of the glass to prevent bees as well as flowers from falling in. The air above hums the whole time from the number of bees in the tree and flying around town. Across the street the first posters have appeared for the surrounding villages upcoming Kirchweihen, and if that’s not a sure sign of summer, I don’t know what is.

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Editor’s Note: This is part of a 31-day challenge series for the month of May, in which I aim to spend at least 15 minutes writing about whatever strikes my fancy. Results may vary.