Photo an Hour: A Lazy Lockdown Saturday

I always mean to do these things but usually miss them. So yesterday morning when I looked at twitter and saw Bev post a photo around 10am, I went, “hey, why not today?”

True to form though, I started a few minutes later and pretty much continued that way all day. It was a very cold and foggy day here in Franconia, and neither a walk nor a trip to the supermarket sounded terribly appealing, so it was a pretty quiet day at home.

Just after 10 and I was drinking tea in bed. Tea or coffee in bed and the New York Times crossword is my standard weekend start mode these days. At 11, I was up (briefly) for a tea refill and to check in on Marry while she supervised bird activity out the front window.

12pm and time for some yoga. My arm looks incredibly weird here, but slightly less awkward than trying to take a picture while actually doing the yoga? Finished with yoga, I was forced to take a breakfast break and catch up on my habit chart in the ol’ bullet journal because BV snaked my shower slot around 1pm.

Finally showered at 2, and got “ready” for the day. Though if you’re not really going anywhere, what are you really ready for? Anyway. I recently got this new facial cream with some points I’d saved up. It’s a bit thicker than what I’m used to, so I don’t think I’ll be using it every day but I think it’ll be great this winter when it gets so dry in here. 3pm and it was off to the kitchen to do some dishes (what else?) and refresh my sourdough starter.

Dishes finished, I was off to the living room at 4pm to figure out how to mess up the kitchen again. We had a few late zucchini from the garden that were starting to get weird, which meant I had the chance to test out a new recipe from Flavour. Marry was unimpressed as usual. My 5pm photo was even later than the others because I spent a good 30 minutes struggling to get the fire lit. I suspect the kid who delivers our adverts on the weekends (aka a giant pile of fire-starting paper) has been skipping our house. So lately it’s been a lot of struggling to get it going with strictly the pressed wood and cardboard. And ca. 52 matches per attempt.

Dinner prep/kitchen destruction underway at 6pm. Though all things considered, this recipe was pretty easy on the dish front. One cutting board, one knife, a wooden spoon, one pan, a bowl and spoon for the sauce. Plus, the simple sautéed zucchini with a harissa sauce was very tasty.

Possibly too tasty as I was too busy eating and watching a movie to catch the 7 or 8pm photos. We watched ‘Die Kleine Hexe,’ which is a classic children’s book, and had been one of BV’s favorites. I didn’t know the story, but thought it was a cute movie.

After the movie, BV retreated back to the office to continue cleaning and sorting. He’s still in the process of changing his name on everything/trying to figure out what he’s missed so far. I was still in the living room at 9, watching more nonsense on Netflix and continuing to work on this ridiculous cat coloring book that my sister brought me from Korea a few years ago.

10pm was time for an evening cup of after-dinner tea while Marry enjoyed her fire which had finally gotten the room heated up. At 11 I was contemplating going to bed, but got distracted flipping through the latest issue of Panorama, the German Alpine Club magazine. This article about a hiking trail that goes all the way across Slovenia especially caught my eye. We were there in September and I already can’t wait to get back!

I finally headed for bed around 12, but got slightly distracted for a few minutes trying to figure out if I remembered what was happening when I left off reading this book on our vacation. Nope, no clue, so I will be starting this one over. And that was it for a very quiet and cold November Saturday. The kitchen is already a mess again though, go figure.

22/52

Lockdown V.2.0: The Lightening

Germany is currently two weeks into our second lockdown, but once again, it has little to no effect on anything I’m doing. I hear gyms are closed, but as long as I can do yoga at home and go for long walks, I’m all set. I’m still working from home, minus two weeks I recently had to go to work in person. It was the first time since March, and let me tell you, it was really weird after seven months. Trying to get teenagers to put masks on before they get up from their desks or open the windows with regularity in November was… a new aspect of my job that I wasn’t expecting.

But while I was out for those few days, I did get a chance to walk through Fürth and see what was happening. The first week I went out was in October, when case numbers had been steadily climbing but there were no new restrictions yet, and the second week I was out was the first week of the new “lockdown” restrictions in the beginning of November. To be honest, I saw nearly no difference.

I had to stop at the bakery and the supermarket while I was out, and both of those places were open during the first round of lockdown back in the spring. The new restrictions came into effect during the fall school holidays here in Bavaria, so I was looking forward to emptier trains, more space, and fewer school kids than in a normal week. To be fair, there were fewer kids, but the trains when I was coming home at ca. 1-1:30 pm were oddly full. Walking through Fürth, all the stores (most of which were closed in spring), were open and people were out and about shopping. My train was full with middle-aged folks with shopping bags. I was… confused.

There were signs that masks should be worn, even outdoors, in the pedestrian areas. That was mixed at best. And since then, the numbers in our region have gone through the roof. It’s incredibly discouraging. I know there are plenty of people staying home and only going out for necessities, but it seems not enough of us.

I was expecting the government to tighten things up even more soon, but some news came out this evening that there’s disagreement among the state leaders, and they’re meeting again in about two weeks to see where the situation is. Seems like a long time with these numbers, but who asked me?

I do feel a bit hypocritical because this seems to be the price we’re paying for amongst other things, people travelling on their summer holidays. We travelled as well, but it was after peak season, we went to low-risk areas, avoided people as best we could, masked up everywhere, and got tested when we came home. Both of our tests came back negative, which helped the peace of mind a bit.

On the other hand, if we do have harder and longer lockdowns coming, I think I’m going to be really really really glad that we had that nice, long, late fall holiday. With no Christmas markets, no big village Thanksgiving, and likely the bare minimum for Christmas itself…. it’s going to be pretty dull. I was really hoping that we could go back to Tuscany for New Year’s again this year but the chances of that look like they’re slim to none. The prospect of cleaning the office instead is less than appealing.

This was all a lot less bleak-looking in March when the weather was getting warmer and the days are getting longer. Now I’m going to have to try to shoehorn walks in during my workday somehow, as normally I don’t finish until it’s already dark out. It’s going to be a long winter, that’s for sure. But at the end of the day, this is what we all have to do, or what we all should be doing, so maybe we can actually see each other in person again. At some point.

Until then, I’ll be here. In the living room. Where I’ve been. For eight months. EIGHT MONTHS.

Gratuitous fall shots, for as long as it lasts…

21/52

And Just Like That, We Were Married

Well not quite. This being Germany, there was, of course, a healthy amount of paperwork that went along with the whole thing. I might do a post on that subject specifically (interest, anyone? Bueller?) at some point, but since it’s not the important part, let’s start with the good stuff.

Photos by Martina Strauß Fotografie

We started planning back in February/March, and I have to say that a global pandemic was really not a factor that I had ever figured into my very few ideas about how/when we might get married at some point. All things considered though, I’m glad we hadn’t gotten too far down the planning road. So many people lost so much time, money, energy, and hope, really, this year. Right before everything in Germany shut down, we were very close to putting down money on a location for a date at the end of October and I am so so so glad that we took a few days to think about it.

I wasn’t wild about October 31st (not a Halloween fan), and the weather possibilities, but the pro of that location was that they had the possibility of doing your standesamtliche Trauung, or civil ceremony, on-site. The civil ceremony is a must in Germany, and it’s rare to find a location that has permission to do those ceremonies outside of the local town hall.

Why the rush? Why not just wait until next year? Well, that particular location was already booked up for all the preferable (aka, summer) dates, and also surprise surprise bureaucracy!

In a nutshell: we wanted to do it this year because 1) my passport is up for renewal in November, 2) my residence permit (tied to passport validity length) is up in November, and also 3) BV’s passport is up for renewal in October.

I’m not worried about a new residency permit at all and should be eligible for permanent residency either way at this point as I’ve been here more than seven years, but we figured that if had to do all this paperwork this year, let’s not do it again next year for an additional spousal status change? Not to mention changing names on all that crap? Nein, danke. So this year it would be.

So as the months of pandemic wore on, we decided we’d just get our ducks in a row, and if everything got the green light, we’d do the civil ceremony as soon as we could, and hopefully have the party and some type of “free ceremony” next year.

In the end, our plan went off without a hitch. We submitted everything we needed to submit, got the ‘okay’ from the high court, and set the date for September 18th.

We went back and forth a bit on if we’d want to have anyone there or not, but with all the restrictions on how many people from how many households and who would or could or should attend, we decided that the best choice was no one besides ourselves and a photographer. We wanted at least a few decent pictures to show our families if they couldn’t be there, and luckily for us, Martina, a very lovely and talented local Fotographerin* was available that day.

She was the only one who joined us for the ceremony, which took place in a large room in our Rathaus, or town hall, and was officiated by the same registrar which had handled our paperwork. Where we live it would have either been one of two town registrars, or our mayor. Masks were necessary as we came in, but when we all sat down, with our registrar separated from us by a Plexiglass shield, we were welcome to take them off if we wanted. The registrar did a nice job, and tried to personalize it a bit, which was nice. My personal favorite part was when she talked a bit about how she was the type of person who likes things to be very neat and orderly and I’m just very happy that she found a career as a Beamtin which most definitely fits that personality type. Folks in Germany know what I mean. 😉

Photos by Martina Strauß Fotografie

The ceremony itself lasted about fifteen minutes, we said ‘ja‘ (seriously, that’s all you have to say), and of course signed more paperwork.

Check all ze papers! Photos by Martina Strauß Fotografie

Then the deed was done, we accepted the registrar’s congratulations and headed out. Afterwards, we planned to go over to the local castle garden and take some more pictures. However, we had to delay that just a little bit as we rounded the corner of the Rathaus and saw that a few people had turned up to surprise us with mostly-distanced Sekt, bubbles, and a few hugs if they were feeling risky (not pictured, don’t want to incur the wrath of the Antirisikoamt).

Photos by Martina Strauß Fotografie
Photos by Martina Strauß Fotografie

The surprises were lovely and we all had a good laugh at their having bumped into each other outside (three separate parties) and their debates over just which door we’d emerge from. But then, toasted and congratulated, and with the next wedding guests and bride arriving (most Standesamt ceremonies are on Fridays), we said goodbye to the surprise crew and went over to the castle garden.

Surprise! Informational signage!

We had a gorgeous day, and even better, there was nearly no one around so we had the gardens all to ourselves. I’ve always loved the Fachwerk, warm sandstone tones, and dramatic archways to our friendly local castle, and we really couldn’t be happier as to how these came out.

Photos by Martina Strauß Fotografie

After we finished with the photos, we bid Tschüss to Martina and went back home to drop off gifts, etc. Then it was back in the car (we had a rental for the day), and to the bakery to pick up some cake to take over to BV’s dad’s place. The rest of the afternoon was spent having coffee and cake with his parents, before dropping off the car and hopping onto the U-Bahn for a very overdressed ride to Nürnberg.

We had invited a few people to join us for dinner, and between pandemic and babysitters, it wound up being just six of us. It was a lovely, small round, and nice for the Villagers to be able to finally meet some of our more local friends. We also managed to eat a truly impressive amount of food at da Gallo, one of our favorite Nbg spots. Some less professional pictures…

The Villagers gifted us with a Nürnberg Bridal Cup, so that’s what is happening in that first picture. Technically the groom should probably take the larger part but… oh well. It was a nice red wine though, so I really do not recommend trying this at home.

The party broke up when they closed the restaurant, and L. saved us a trip on the train by chauffeuring us home. And that was it.

As I said before, we are hoping to do some sort of larger celebration in the future. I’m hoping that can still happen but I’ve also been hoping the US can get their shit together for months and… well, you’ve probably all seen how that’s gone. If we could do it on our first anniversary it would be rather nice and neat, but at the end of the day, I’m not a Beamtin and it’s not the most important thing in the world. It would be nice to celebrate with the other people who couldn’t make it, and we’ll make that happen whenever we can.

To the next chapter…

20/52

*linked in the photo captions

Eight to Twenty-Two. Somehow.

It’s been roughly a thousand and one years since my last life lately post way back at the end of the 7th week of being home. Having a computer that takes several hours to start (on a good day) has meant that a lot of days I just ran out of patience trying to get the damn thing to start. It’s also meant that my goal of a post per week this year has… not been very successful thus far.

However, I’m happy to report that I’m typing this post on my brand-new, shiny, glorious laptop! When you push the ‘on’ button, it starts! A miracle! My old one was bought way back in 2012, and has been literally falling apart for the last several years, so this is a very exciting day.

While being inside and typing away isn’t perhaps the best use of a Sunday, it’s currently about 32C (or 90F) here in Franconia and hiding inside with the shutters down during the day is about the best way to get through it. I’m a big summer fan, but as with every summer, I find myself wishing for water access!

But what’s been going on since my last update on life around here in the beginning of May? Both a lot, and a lot of nothing… which I think has been a theme of 2020.

I mentioned at the end of the last update that they were starting to open up more things here in Bayern, and that has remained the case. Around town, things got greener and greener. My usual walking route got absurdly busy for a few weeks as one of the local farms had this stunning field of big purple poppies, and drew far more visitors than I’ve ever seen out there before!

According to a sign next to the field, the farm was partnering with a local bakery chain so I guess in the future we can look forward to more poppy-seed rolls and the like. They advertised the field a fair bit in local media as well, so between that and the ‘gram, it was a hopping place. At home, tiny kitten continued to rule our garden, sometimes with her friend in hot pursuit.

We both had a week of holidays as usual in May, but decided to stay at home. Hotels and the like were allowed to reopen either that week, or in the next week or two (hard to keep track of all the changes), but since we didn’t know what travel would look like, we stayed put. We were fairly productive though, doing a lot of cleaning, reorganizing, and garden work. We also slowly started to venture out a bit, but cautiously so. We met up with friends (woo! other humans!) one weekend in the Franconian Switzerland and (while keeping distance) took a nice day hike where we got this great view of the Walberla. On the way back home, we spontaneously decided to stop at a Biergarten for dinner and as you can see, I was incredibly happy about both tap beer and a meal that I didn’t have to cook! The excitement was real.

These are from another day and another trip out to a local place. So far, every time we’ve dined out or even just gone for a beer, we’ve had to leave contact details, etc. I hear some places are starting to slack on that, but now that numbers have started to go up again, we’ll see if they crack down, or start to close more things down again. We shall see.

Rolling into June, BV’s balcony garden was popping so he built that big brown box in the background of the lavender photo to expand his planting. Tiny kitten was stalking and supervising throughout the process, of course.

The Villagers moved to Amberg at the end of last year, but since BV hadn’t had a chance to see their new place yet, we headed out there for a mini-weekend trip. I spent every Thursday last year in Amberg, but hardly got to see anything besides the stretch from the train station to the company and it was nice to 1) see other humans (again!) and 2) have a change of scenery! We walked up to the Mariahilfberg with its old monastery and also lots of old trees for the kids to run around…

Amberg is very cute. That stone building is part of the old city wall, which still runs around most (maybe all?) of the city center. There are lots of really old houses that date from the middle ages and it is really very charming to wander around.

Starting to feel more comfortable going out, we planned a full weekend away in July. However, I do want to note that though we have gone out a bit, anytime we saw friends or traveled, or had extended contact with anyone, we always took two full weeks before doing anything else. BV is still going into the office only once or twice a week, and I’m still home 100% of the time, so we’re still being extremely cautious. Disclaimer!

Anyway, in July we took a weekend trip down to the Allgäu to spend a few nights at a potential destination for our wedding, whenever that might happen. Apart from some truly horrible guests the first night, we really liked the place. Presumably, our guests would be much better behaved. Maybe.

Since we were in the area, we decided to spend our Saturday revisiting one of my favorite shelter tours we’ve ever done, and hike up to the Kemptner Hütte.

I’m very pleased to report that the hike was exactly as gorgeous as I remembered it, seven years later.

Before we left on Sunday, we stretched our aching legs just a bit and hiked about an hour up to an Alm. After weeks of relatively little activity, we were both in a bit of pain, but considering we had a few hours of train rides ahead of us, we had to move a bit first. Plus, cows.

The rest of July was pretty dull. It either rained or was ungodly hot (see, now), which meant that the garden and the supermarket was about as far as I went.

One Saturday did involve a trip over to the Gardener’s for his birthday, entirely too much cake, and some time under these very impressive blooms. But other than that, we’ve been home. Work got oddly busy, despite the impending holidays, and I’ve had my hands full for the last few weeks.

It’s been a lot of watching the pears slowly ripen, trying to keep the plants watered, Marry supervising both of us working from home, and the occasional daylight hedgehog sighting. We hadn’t seen one in the garden yet this year and I’m feeling entirely better now that he turned up.

One other recent highlight, was that we had our appointment at the local registry office to file all the paperwork in order to get married. So now, we wait. I’ll maybe do a more thorough post on that whole process in the future, but let’s see what the outcome is first, shall we?

Back in March, I don’t think any of us envisioned still being at home now in August, but here we are. I doubt I’ll be doing anything in person until maybe October or November, but given the trends the last few days, it’s really a case of wait and see. A good portion of Germany is on holiday this month, with another good portion about to start school. So we wait. And we see.

19/52

The Allure of the E-Bike

No, I don’t have one. But living in Germany, biking, bike equipment, and the merits of various models of bicycle are a frequent topic of conversation. It seems that not a week goes by that I don’t have a discussion in one of my groups that involves someone in the process of buying or repairing a bike, and nearly everyone has opinions on which types or methods are best.

As a walker, not a biker, I don’t really have a horse in this race. Which type of bike is best? Well which activity are you doing? Are you going for speed or comfort? Mountains or streets? Is an e-bike an option? Are you too old for a normal bike? Or too young for an e-bike? So many questions.

To be 100% honest, I don’t even know that I was aware of the existence of electronic bikes before moving here. And at first, I was a bit perplexed. Why? But then I heard people passionately defend them, or alternately, firmly state that they were NOT that type of person and most definitely far too young to even consider it yet. Okay. Cool.

I’m quite sure that I had seen an e-bike for the first time zip past me in the city at some point along the way, but it didn’t register for me until one specific day in the Alps. And then, the advantage finally became clear.

BV, his brother M, and I had spent the night at the Tegernseer Hütte. After an exhausting, damp and speedy hike up the night before, the next day dawned bright and sunny. As we were quite sure that the steep forest path that we had climbed the evening before would still be fairly wet, we opted to take the other route down. This led us down a path to an Alm, and then turned onto a gravel road that would take us back down to where we’d left the car.

The long and winding road…

As is typical with these roads, it was long with juuuuust enough of an incline to make me glad that we were going down it instead of going up. We hopped along, greeting the grazing cows as we went past, and enjoyed our last looks up at the Hütte, perched high above between the two peaks of the Roßstein und Buchstein. 

A post from the Alps without cows is not possible. Sorry.

Tegernseer Hütte, Roßstein and Buchstein

Going down was no problem of course, but the few other hikers we passed on the way up were breathing a bit heavier. More than the hikers though, were the bikers. A few mountain bikers labored past us, bent low over their bikes, leg muscles straining, breathing hard. The few times I’ve been on a bike in recent years, I’ve struggled with any sort of incline, and I always wonder at the folks in the mountains. I prefer my feet, for sure. Here are a couple of them, high above us (the ones in the brightly colored athletic wear, not the cows).

Just a few minutes after a particularly hard-working biker huffed by us, we noticed something approaching from below. Another cyclist, but this time, something was different.

No sportswear, no bent posture. No helmet, but a jaunty Tiroler hat. A typically Bavarian coat (think, one of these), and a few more gray hairs than the other bikers. He was sitting straight up, and zipping up at an improbable pace.

As he passed us, he greeted us with a “Servus” and didn’t even need to pause for breath. Not a drop of sweat was to be seen, and then, if you hadn’t already figured it out, the whirr of the bike and the giant battery pack gave it away. I so regret not getting a picture of him, but I assume I was too busy giggling like mad.

And that, my friends, is when I figured out the appeal of the e-bike. Compared to the other people who were working hard, this fellow was out, having a lovely day, enjoying the mountains and a leisurely ride no matter if he was going uphill or down.

Since I’m not a big biker now, I don’t see myself rushing out to buy an e-bike anytime soon. We’ve already determined that neither of us is old enough to become bus people, so I think we’ve got a few years to go before e-bikes or buses become a more appealing idea. But I can certainly see the appeal of a gentleman of a certain age, who wants to reach the Alm, with a fraction of the work.

And with views like these, who can argue?

The view from the Tegernseer Hütte

 

And you? Team e-bike? Or team ‘not that old yet’?

 

18/52

 

Five, Six, Seven

Alternative title, “Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’… into the future…”

Has anyone else had that darn Steve Miller Band song stuck in their heads a lot lately? Just me?

Slipping into the future feels about right. Somehow, it’s May, and tomorrow will begin the 8th week of working from home, self-isolating, sheltering in place, pick your description of choice. Not much has changed here since my post after the fourth week.

I’ve taken a few more long walks, which alternate between helping and making me all ragey at people who couldn’t possibly scootch over a bit. Nature has been tremendously helpful, the people less so. Typical.

Marry helped me identify some of the mystery produce in our new veggie delivery box. Turns out that this one was a rutabaga, which falls into the category of ‘shit I’ve never sought out before, but let’s figure out what to do with it!’ And no, we don’t normally let her on the countertops.

To shake things up a bit, and also to get out of the stretchy pants for a change, BV and I made good on our vow to try to do more cultural things. When he had to go into the office one day, he picked up some good pizza on the way home, we both donned our finest, and we ate pizza and watched an opera in the living room. The way that so many arts organizations have been putting up free content is pretty cool. And if we have no chance to get to New York anytime soon, at least we can enjoy the Met Opera’s daily stream for free.

Our friendly local kitten visited some more, and I made another focaccia bread. The yeast in the freezer is nearly gone now though, and there was still none to be found at Edeka this week, so I’ll have to put the bread trials on hold. Or get into sourdough like the rest of the world, apparently.

BV is a huge rhubarb fan, so I took a crack at this tart from the NYT. However, I didn’t have enough coconut to make the recipe’s crust. Instead, I made a Spekulatius crust, which is something I’d been wanting to try for awhile. I took a package of Spekulatius that were leftover from the holidays, crushed them up with butter, and some flour until I got a decent consistency that could be pressed into the cake pan. Then I just crossed my fingers and hoped that it would hold the custard, which it did. Fantastic!

Continuing the theme of occasionally putting on real clothes, we dressed up to go to the Biergarten: home edition, and spent more time clearing out the endless brush in the garden. I feel like it’s improving, but the bar was pretty low.

Pardon the roadworks sign there. It’s been suspiciously silent, and we nearly never walk down that street there, so I’m not entirely convinced they’re actually doing any work. Who knows.

So that’s where things stand in our little corner of Franconia. The May 1 holiday kicks off what is normally my favorite time of year here, where nearly every week or two means another public holiday in May and June. Of course we’ll still have those, and they’ll still be nice breaks from the work week, but the luster of ‘ooooh, what should we do with the long weekend?’ is missing.

They’re starting to slowly open some things up here, though more in some of other German states than in Bavaria. I guess all we can do is see how that goes and hope for the best.

And you? How are you staying sane wherever you are?

 

17/52

Odd Side Effects

This post is an entirely unscientific list of things that I wouldn’t have thought about before all this happened:

  • Virtually no contrails in the sky on these super beautiful spring days.
  • Piggybacking onto that, one of my random hobbies is checking on the Flightradar24 app when I see a plane overhead. Lately, they’re nearly all cargo planes.
  • And again piggybacking: we are quite close to a small airfield and on aforementioned beautiful spring (and summer) days, we see piles and piles of gliders. Now? None. I haven’t checked to see if it’s officially banned, but I’m guessing it falls under ‘sports activities that can’t be done alone’ and so it is.
  • I’ve mentioned in some of the weekly posts that I’ve been cooking a lot. The dish piles have been LEGENDARY.
  • On the opposite end, we’re doing nearly no laundry. That side is nice. Stretchy pants for dayzzzz.
  • I had a few pairs of mid-season shoes/boots that either 1) needed replacing or 2) nearly did, and I can happily push that off until fall at least. Saving wear and tear on clothes is okay as far as I’m concerned.
  • We’ve gotten some solid cleaning done. If you only have a weekend, it’s the last thing you want to do, but now we have no other options, and can get some little things done after work during the week.
  • I kinda miss riding trains. I do not miss the commute.
  • There are daily vacillations between, “oh my goodness, I’m so glad we live out here and can be in the forest and nearly alone in less than 10 minutes,” and “oh my goodness, I would murder for a take out burrito or pizza or anything else but there’s nowhere to walk to.” Not knowing what will become of our favorite places in the city is deeply frustrating.
  • Some places have expanded delivery options, which is fantastic. Also BV owes me sushi, and I think I’m going to try cashing that in next week for some sweet, sweet, sushi delivery.
  • This spring has been prime Biergarten weather, but we can’t visit our favorite one. And we have no idea if it’s even open. They were maybe closing, then definitely closing for a bit then opening under new management, but then the last time we walked past, the menu outside still had the same family name on it. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING. Also, I miss the lovely waitresses and the terrace cats. *sigh*

 

Here’s hoping we all get through this. Back to beer gardens and trains, back to making plans, and not seeing people only through ambush video calls.

 

14/52

Week Four.

Week four of social distancing was, mercifully, a four-day workweek. Good Friday and Easter Monday are both public holidays here, and they came at a perfect time.

For the most part I’m still feeling pretty decent most days, and taking advantage of the good weather, garden, extra cooking time, and all of that. But by the end of the workday on Thursday, I was ready to pitch my headset out of the window. I don’t even like talking on the phone… and so after four weeks of spending most of the day with this stupid thing on my head, my ears were very ready for four days off.

YES I am aware that this is small potatoes, and YES I’m very happy to still have a job through all of this, and shouldn’t really complain, but my ears hurt.

As of this week Tuesday, BV is now working from home almost entirely. He may have to go in once a week if something needs organizing in person, but I’m happy to have him avoiding public transit more.

In preparation for the long weekend, he took a half day and picked up a car share so he could do a big shop. We hadn’t been to the Getränkemarkt since before Thanksgiving, so our stock of water, beer, and juice was empty. Now we’re restocked on beverages, and he also managed to pick up a few other large and unwieldy items that we usually save for car trips.

Easter weekend was mostly spent baking. I made both Samin Nosrat’s Ligurian Focaccia and Swedish Cardamom Buns because everyone knows that Jesus only rises with yeast.

Besides that, we both tackled a bit more garden work. I didn’t get back to the fence clearing project, but I did manage to completely fill our compost box with dead grass that I raked out of the most offensive places in the garden. We may need to cut the grass more often. Maybe. We put down a bit of grass seed along the fence, and in some spots in the back that had been torn up when a mystery digger was parked back there a few weeks ago.

An outdoor brunch was also necessary, and the glorious weather lasted all the way through until this morning.

Really, it seems appropriate to end the long holiday weekend with a rainy Monday afternoon/evening. Hope it does some good for that grass seed.

The social distancing regulations that were announced a few weeks ago were scheduled to go through the upcoming weekend, with schools planned to reopen after the Easter holidays on the 20th. Nothing has changed yet as far as that plan goes, so let’s see what week five brings.

Side note: was thinking about doing quick posts with links to all the what-not that I’ve been cooking these last weeks… anyone in need of some new ideas and/or interested in that? Lemme know in ze comments!

And you? How are things going wherever you are?

 

13/52

Week Three Down.

How’s everyone doing out there?

Here in ze Dorf, we’re marching along. I’m still home; my only excursion out this week was to our local Edeka on Friday afternoon. People were keeping distance, sort of. Everyone in there was approximately 8000 years old though, which wasn’t great to see. It also seemed entirely too busy for that time of day normally, so I think next time I’ll be trying to go in a daytime window, preferably not on a Friday.

BV is still splitting his time, so he gives me missives from the outside world. His company has taken some measures to space people out, and I know he’s doing the best he can to steer clear of people on the trains and buses as much as he can. With these coming two weeks being the Easter holidays, they’ll be shorter than usual, and hopefully even emptier in the public spaces he does have to occupy.

Beyond work and yoga and cooking, this weekend we occupied ourselves with some intensive spring cleaning. He continued his plant preparation and every windowsill in the house in currently covered in small boxes hopefully sprouting some kind of seed or another. Some things have made their way out into the garden already, but most will end up in his balcony planters or, possibly a raised garden bed to avoid the slug issues we’ve had in the past. The garden bed needs building though, so minor detail there.

While he planted, I dusted and vacuumed the bejeezus out of the bedroom and living rooms. I do like our wooden ceilings but my lord do they collect spider webs. My neck hurt by the end of the day from looking up for so long! Curtains came down and got washed, furniture was shifted, needless to say, it was a long overdue cleaning. Poor Marry was mildly traumatized by how long I had the vacuum going, but she seems to have recovered. I’m slightly embarrassed by how long it took, and how much better it looks now. If the pollen stays mostly outside this spring, I’ll consider myself lucky.

Sunday should technically be a quiet day, but it was a bit warmer so we moved the cleaning party out to the garden. BV tackled the back of the house, where he chopped up a tree that he had taken down last weekend, and tried cleaning out next to the brush pile. Since we don’t have our big cherry tree anymore, it would be nice if we could get close to the small one in the back of the garden, but usually it was covered by piles of brush.

I didn’t help his cause though, as I took a rake to the fence line in the front of the house. There’s a weird plant up there, no idea what it is, but it results in piles of straight sticks out of the ground, most of which die quickly. Nearly the whole fence was covered in brush when I started, and this is how it looked by the end.

Not exactly an English garden yet, but much improved. I had to give up after three hours through. Between the leftover muscle aches from Saturday’s cleaning spree and clearing this mess out, I was KO. Where the brush starts again in the middle has more actual living plants, so it won’t be quite as bad (famous last words). But they’ll have to wait a few days at least. Plus there are some very sweet blue flowers in front of that mess and I didn’t want to trample all of them. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

So. Week four. Let’s see how we go.

 

 

12/52

Week Two Down.

Twelve days by the calendar since my last post, though time seems to have developed some curious warping and stretching tendencies. Apparently this morning we were all supposed to change that odd clock in the house that isn’t controlled by satellite… daylight savings time didn’t seem to get the memo that days have gotten all fuzzy.

Twelve days ago, I was working from home mostly by choice. My people that I have contact weren’t in the office, so what was the point of me going anywhere? That was Tuesday. Most of last week was truly glorious weather, so I took advantage of my freed-up commute time and took long walks in the warm sun every afternoon. I tried dodging people as best as I could, but it seems that all around Germany the social distancing that was encouraged by the government was not quite taking hold. On Friday at midnight, Bavaria became the first federal state to institute stricter measures.

All non-essential businesses are now closed, restaurants and cafes are limited to take-out, and everyone who can is to work from home. BV was still going in the first week, but last week he and his boss worked out a plan so they can alternate days. It’s not ideal, but its the best they can do for now, and at least it cuts down on his train/bus commuting by half.

For our first official weekend at home with nowhere to go and nothing to do, I spent most of my time in the kitchen. I tried and partially succeeded in making an apple strudel (more on that later), and finally got around to reorganizing the disaster area that we had been calling a pantry.

Still has some ways to go, but we shall not be buying anymore canned fruit unless there’s a specific purpose for it. And expired pickles will be the new salty snack until further notice.

My classes rolled on this week, with the exception of one or two last-minute cancellations. Really, that made it more like a normal week in some ways. The only difference being that here I could do my in-between administrative tasks with Marry die Katze looking over my shoulder, rather than hunting for a free desk in the wild plains of the open office concept. I’m grateful that I’m still working, and I do think that the people I work with are appreciative to have that sense of normalcy. Thank goodness they’re used to spending half the day on telephone conferences and didn’t bat an eye at changing our English lessons.

Beyond work, I didn’t leave the house/our garden from last week Friday afternoon until this week Friday afternoon. Besides the harder restrictions being in place, I had a few more late meetings this week, and the weather took a hard turn back to cold. It was deceptively nice-looking out the window, but the wind had a distinct bite and I decided it wasn’t worth it. Instead, I spent more time cooking because at least we will eat well during all of this. By the end of the week it warmed up a tad, so we were able to have a nice Feierabendbier at our garden table for the first time on Friday afternoon. Plus, we were joined by our new part-time garden residents!

These two wee nuts have been frequent visitors so far this spring. They are very playful, very rumbly, and very intent on causing a ruckus over at our neighbor’s chicken coop on a regular basis.

They also joined me for much of yesterday afternoon while I did some recipe recording in the garden. BV took care of the manual garden labor portion of the day, and we got the grill going later in the evening for the first grilled bratwursts of the season. The next few days look rather chilly again, but we’re hoping for more nice days to take advantage of the weather and approximate the Biergarten experience at home as best as we can. It seems we may have to for quite a while.

After two weeks of this strange new world, I’d say we’re coping fairly well with it most days. Thank goodness we already did a fair amount of meal planning and didn’t rely too heavily on eating out (though I was VERY excited to have sushi delivered to the village on Monday. That was not possible before). We’re both more homebody types anyway, but I’m guessing that in a week or two, I’ll be wanting to see… someone else. Since BV will still be in the office at least 50% of the time, he’ll have some outside contact. I’ll have to make do with virtual connection. Or order more food so I can at least talk to the sushi guy.

I did have a small crisis on Wednesday or Thursday. I was scrolling through something or another and just really wanted to go… somewhere. It’s very rare that we have no vacations, no weekends away, no hiking trips, absolutely nothing planned. I get itchy if we don’t. Intellectually I know that we can’t plan anything right now, but that did not stop me from hopping onto one booking platform or another and just bemoaning all the nice, cozy places that might as well be on Mars now. I doubt that will be the last time it happens, so if you’ve got a tip on a solid distraction or coping mechanism, leave it in the comments?

Whew. This got rambly. Sorry about that.

Stay home, stay healthy, stay sane. We’re all in this together (separately, at home, alone).

 

 

10/52