What You Say Depends on Where You Come From

The charming village of Monschau is in Germany, but Americans and Belgians were filling it up the other day. It’s very close to the Belgian border and so charming that it draws Americans from much further away. It’s a mix of cultures. I overheard this classic exchange in a café: “Salt or sugar?” An American […]

Olives and Antifreeze ALWAYS come in Two Colors except when They Don’t.

We have a supposedly American car, a Ford Fusion, but it lives in Germany, so it has to have German antifreeze. Natch. Instead of 5-gallon, yellow, Prestone jugs, Germany has white, soda-bottle-sized Kühlerfrostschutz bottles. I was a little leery about Kühlerfrostschutz, because buying oil for the car was a major research project, even after I […]

4 Things Trappist Monks know about Safe Spaces for Creativity

Abbey and church buildings painted white with red trim against a blue sky

Lately, I’ve been thinking about safe spaces to create art. On the weekend, we visited Abbey Mariawald, famous for its split-pea soup. Judging from the number of motorcyclists, families, and hikers, they’ve hit on something with universal appeal. They also have a private life that soup-eating tourists don’t see. While tourists are welcome in the […]

Basic Garden Vocabulary in German and a side-trip to Mexican Oregano

I’ve never grown vegetables in Germany–until this year. That means I need lots of new words! If you’re considering gardening in Germany, maybe this list will help you out. Or provide you with a little entertainment. Or I’ll just be able to look things up here when I forget them. 🙂 die Gartenschnur–garden twine, jute, […]

Growing into shape: A 1,000-year-old linden tree

This 1,000 year old linden tree has such a perfect shape from the outside. A really old tree gives me a new perspective on life and how long it takes to grow something beautiful. This one almost certainly saw a procession of Emperors passing by. It’s very near the open-air museum of Tilleda, a kind […]

The Good Earth: International Gardens

A landmark. The day before yesterday, I was given my first garden plot since we moved to Germany. Turning over the soil stirred up surprising feelings. It’s an International Garden so the invitation was in German and in Arabic. My fellow gardeners are from Egypt, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and Germany. People were talking about melons, chilis, […]

An Epic Tree

Battered oak with huge gall, blasted branches, lost bark and holes that shelter who knows what.

This weekend, my husband and I went looking for a half-circle of oaks he knew from thirty years ago. (No comments from the peanut gallery 😉 He said their group held hands around it because it was so big (nearly 8 meters around and 24 meters tall!). It’s gotta be old: 600-800 years! We found […]

Contrast with Apple Blossoms, Bach, and Story

Sometimes learning something that you had given up on changes your whole view of the world. James Rhodes’ How to Play Piano teaches rank beginners how to play J.S. Bach’s Prelude in C Major. I never learned to read the bass clef and I’ve really been enjoying this attempt. It makes you wonder what else […]

Hero at the Bus Stop

This year, my husband gave me a Page-a-Day calendar to learn Italian. Today’s page was a dialogue between two men at a bus stop, getting ready to go to work. One said his boss was nicer than his colleagues. The other said his colleagues were nicer than his boss. [*cough* We’re learning vocabulary here. Cut […]