Ladyrebecca's Musings and Ramblings

The Increasingly Political Thoughts of Rebecca (Becky) Walker

I love my car November 16, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,germany,Reviews — Addicted to Yarn @ 11:29 am
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Last summer, my husband bought me a car. Yes, we discussed it before hand but, recognizing his superior knowledge and intuition regarding automobiles, he had the final say. And I am, oh, so glad he did.

Last Saturday dawned as the four days before it had–gray, cloudy, foggy, dreary, depressing, oppressively depressing, gray, blah, foggy. Get the point? Jael and I had a lunch date with some friends so continuing to hide out in the house was not an option. We got into my Volvo V70, with the five-cylinder turbo-charged diesel and five-speed manual transmission, and headed for the base.

Volvo V70, turbo-charged, five-cylinder diesel

2000 Volvo V70

While I detest weather such as we had that day, my car loves it. Never does the Volvo sound happier, shift smoother, and purr more contentedly than when the weather is crushing my soul. This is a good thing, as I absolutely LOVE driving the Volvo when it sounds like that and it has an enormous effect on my mood.

From the deep growl of low RPM’s to the throaty purr of high RPM’s (assisted by the turbo), the car wants to fly down the road. Only on foggy, dreary days do I have a hard time keeping it under 100 (kilometers per mile, about 60) on the way to base. On foggy, dreary days, I find myself flying along at 110-120 kph. As a ticket would NOT help my mood, I am constantly having to break the rhythm of the car’s song.

But even with the speed limit cramping my style, I arrived at the post office/meeting place with a happy heart. My morning funk had been completely dissipated by the joy of driving such an incredible machine. Better than Prozac.

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Cochem Castle July 16, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,germany — Addicted to Yarn @ 6:37 pm
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A couple of months ago we drove to the city (town) of Cochem to see the Cochem castle. We got a little lost trying to find the parking. The castle was easy to find, seeing as how it was at the top of a hill in the middle of town. But find parking we eventually did. Then came the hike up the hill. It was a long hike.

Here are some pictures of the castle:

The backside of Cochem Castle

The backside of Cochem Castle

Our camera batteries died about half way through the tour so there aren’t very many pictures but here are a few:

Some normal sized armor with Israel for scale

Some normal sized armor with Israel for scale

Some really fricking big armor with Israel for scale

Some really fricking big armor with Israel for scale. They said the man who wore it would have been almost seven feet tall.

The view from the castle restaurant

The view from the castle restaurant

And after touring the castle (in German but with an English printout) we had lunch at the restaurant. Our dinner at the restaurant was one of the best eating out experiences we’ve had in Germany. The service was wonderful, the food delicious, and the atmosphere lovely. We ate out on the patio until the wind started blowing over glasses and the staff ushered us inside. Then we ate inside and it was still lovely.

We walked back down the hill and drove home without incident. A successful German trip.

 

Car Repairs and Communication July 15, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,deutsch,germany — Addicted to Yarn @ 9:02 am
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I took my car in to the shop today for some suspension work and left with a feeling of language acquisition accomplishment. When I walked in, I remembered to say “Guten Morgen,” or, “Good morning.” An employee came out of the office and returned my greeting. I asked, “Wie geht es Ihnen?” or “How are you doing?” He answerd, “Gute,” and then asked, in German, if I was dropping off the Volvo. I said yes as I attempted to separate my car keys from my house keys. He said, “Schwer” which means “hard.” I grinned and said, “sehr,” very. I handed him my keys and he handed me a form and asked for my phone number. I didn’t catch what he said the first time so I asked “Wie bitte?” “Pardon me?” He repeated it and I caught “Telefonnummer.” After writing down my number, I asked, this time in English how much it would be. He said, in German, that he didn’t speak English. As I fished in my brain for the German question, the customer who had come in behind me asked for me. As the employee was figuring it up, I said, “Ich habe VAT form,” letting him know I had a VAT form. (As service members we don’t have to pay some of the German taxes and the VAT form is what gets us out of them.) As I walked out, I realized that I’d asked him in English without really realizing it because we had been communicating. It just seemed natural that we would be able to continue to communicate if I switched a little bit to English. It was kind of weird but fun, too. I left feeling really good. I would have been able to do the entire conversation in German if I’d needed to. It took me a couple of minutes while driving home to remember how to ask “how much” in German but I did finally remember. “Wieviel costet das?” “How much does that cost?” Not perfect but good enough for communication, which is what I aim for.

 

Finally, a good day trip in Germany! June 20, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,germany — Addicted to Yarn @ 9:56 pm
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Living in a foreign country has given me a love of reality I didn’t know I could have. When I am based in reality, life is good. When I am based in fantasy, life is horrible.

A couple of months ago we went to Köln for two days. We took the train so we wouldn’t have to deal with finding parking. We stayed in a hotel near city zentrum (city center) so we’d be near all the sights. We bought one umbrella when it started to rain and attempted to share it. We went to a museum, the first we f0und in order to get out of the rain. I had made a list of the different things we wanted to see but we were unable to see most of them. We did walk through the Dom, the huge (and in my opinion, incredibly ugly) cathedral in the center of town. But it was cold and damp and everything was in German. We planned on using public transport but were unable, or unwilling, to figure it out. Our hotel room had two twin beds and a pull out for Jael. It was hot and stuffy so we had to open the window in order to sleep but because we were in the center of the city, the noise from the street was excessive. We all had pounding headaches. We got on the train the next morning and went home, depressed, discouraged and hating Germany.

We had today the day we’ve been trying to have for nine months. We drove to Koblenz today and while I did take a right when I was supposed to go left (due to a surprise turning lane), I was able to turn around at the next round about (within sight of the missed turn) and get right back on track. We went to a store and spent a couple of hours wandering around. We found things we weren’t embarrassed to have in our home (we were in an IKEA). We had an icecream with Jael. We went to the Midsommer fair they had in the parking lot and Jael had fun. She jumped in a bounce house, made a flower wreath head piece, and hammered a nail into a log. We went to the marktplatz and walked around until it started to pour VERY COLD rain. Then we ran to through the marktplatz until we found a store selling umbrellas. We bought an umbrella for each of us and found a quiet restaraunt to eat lunch in. We had a good lunch, a decent cup of coffee and a donut. Then we went home, again, without getting lost, not even a wrong turn.

What we did right today, what we’ve failed to do on our trip to Köln and on other days, was our expectations. When we started out today, we didn’t plan on having a “whirlwind German adventure.” We said, “We are going to the next big town to do some shopping. We’ll probably have some lunch there and see what we can see. We will probably not be able to find everything or even anything we are looking for.” And since our expectations were based in reality, reality was what we got and our expectations were met. We did not set our expectations on being “super tourists” who see all the sights and go to all the museums. We didn’t do anything touristy because until we are comfortable with a city, touristy stuff makes us want to gouge our eyes out.

Maybe next time, when we have an idea of where things are, we will do some touristy things before lunch. There are a number of neat things in Koblenz that we would like to do. There is a castle, a military museum and supposedly a nice park. Perhaps we’ll just go to IKEA and reveal in being in a large store. I don’t know.

But what I do know is that as I drove home, I felt happy and full of life instead of drained and depressed. Reality can be your best friend if you embrace it but your worst enemy if you try to deny its existence.

Oh, and Lisa and Angie…sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. Thanks for you patience.

 

Frankfurt Fears…no more February 23, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,art,germany,marriage — Addicted to Yarn @ 9:18 am
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I love it when I leave cliff hanger blogs and then don’t post for a couple of days. “Did they make it to Frankfurt and back?” “Did Israel’s plane make it to the States?” “Were there pastries involved?”

Friday night, my friend Sheri called and offered to ride to Frankfurt with us so I wouldn’t have to drive back alone. Bless her heart. She agreed to come with us at 5am. She has endeared herself to us forever. We all piled into our little Panda and headed to Frankfurt. It was a pretty good drive though my stomach was in knots. For some reason, this TDY scares me more. After much reflection and much talking about it with Israel, the conclusion I’ve reached is this: Israel has never been so far before. He’s across a frickin’ ocean! Seven time zones away! There is much more work involved in him getting back to us if the world screaches to a halt. When he was in California and we were in Kansas City, he could have walked to us. It would have taken a while but it was a physical possibility. This isn’t Civilazation III, he can’t just go down (or up) to the poles and walk around the world to Europe. And that’s scary. Worst case senario has to involve many more things.

But we got him to the airport fine and left him standing in a long line 2 hours before his flight. I cried, which I don’t think I’ve ever done when he was leaving before. Of course, I was much more naive then and had no idea what two weeks with no husband or father for my daughter was like. But we said our good-bye’s, kissed our good-byes, while scandalizing onlookers — hey, the course is an elective — and Jael and I and Sheri walked away.

We only got onto one wrong road. It was the right road, just heading the wrong direction. After getting turned around, we drove straight home…with many potty breaks. It’s about a 3 hour drive for us in our little car. We drove Sheri home, had pancakes at her house for lunch and hung out for about three hours. Then, as my yawns increased in frequency I figured Jael and I should head home. We drove to Speicher and as we neared the center of town, we saw a police car, blocking the road. Uh oh, I thought. Yup. Big uh oh. There was some sort of carnival in the middle of the road. I’m sure it was fun. I’m sure it was worth blocking of the MAIN road through town but my sleep deprived and husband deprived brain freaked out. Which of course means so did my thinking brain. So instead of cutting back to the roundabout that goes to Trier, taking the road that goes by the fancy kitchen store and the meat market we’ve never been to (yes, that’s really how directions are in Germany. I am a classic, road names only please, no landmarks, kind of girl and yet…this is what I’ve got to work with) and coming out on the other side of the carnival, I completely forgot that part of town exsisted and instead went all the way to Bitburg to  come in the back way past the train station. But of course, I didn’t do this in a straight shot. I tried two shortcuts, both brought me back to the wrong side of town. Then I got turned the wrong way on B51 in Bitburg and had to drive for some kilometers before finally pulling a U-turn on an empty stretch of highway. But then we got home fine.

And even though I was exhausted and had been up since 4am that morning, I was unable to convince myself that I should be in bed and instead, stayed up late perusing the Internet, making ATC’s, and various other things which I can’t even remember now. I will post pictures soon. Due to not having a USB to camera cable anymore (it broke), uploading pictures is…intersting. I have to take the card out of the camera and put it into the Ubuntu computer (a desktop model) or the Linux laptop (a tiny, tiny Acer running Limpus Light for it’s OS) and then upload the pictures to that computer. Then I have to load them onto a photo sharing site, usually Shutterfly now that I’ve figured out the gliches between Ubuntu and their upload software. Then I got into the living room and using the Mac, either download the pictures from Shutterfly onto the harddrive or I simply use the Mac to post pictures onto WordPress or whatever else it is I want to do with them. And if the desktop computer wasn’t sitting on an endtable in the hallway, with the safe in front as a seat and I didn’t have to balance the keyboard and mouse on my knees, I would do the whole thing from Ubuntu.

I love Ubuntu. We have had Windows and we hated it. We switched to Ubuntu and loved it but there were some issues. Then we got a Mac, and while we don’t hate it, we don’t love it. We love the hardware. I love not having to have a tower and a monitor and speakers and a subwoofer. The lack of wires spilling everywhere is wonderful but the Mac OS is not that great. I prefer Ubuntu. MUCH prefer Ubuntu. I think everyone should switch to Ubuntu. It’s absolutely wonderful. Of course, I totally depend on Israel to figure all the details out. Maybe I wouldn’t love it so much if I had to do that. But Israel loves it too so maybe it’s just that great.

Anywho…I’ll post pictures later today or tomorrow as I have class tonight and should really spend some time studying, seeing as how I missed the last class.

 

Frankfurt fears February 20, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,germany,marriage,military — Addicted to Yarn @ 8:53 am
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Israel leaves on Saturday. He flies out of Frankfurt Airport at about 11 in the morning. I don’t want him to go. It’s only for two weeks. It’s really not that bad. It’ll be the shortest TDY he’s ever had. But I don’t want him to go. I don’t want to be a single mom, even for two weeks. It’s just not as much fun without him here.

But there is a silver lining to many clouds and the silver linings to this one are several. Number one, Israel gets a two week break from 60 hour work weeks. I get a break from living with someone who’s working a 60 hour work week. Israel will have the opportunity to eat at Applebee’s, something he’s been surprised to miss. I will have no expectations of meals placed upon me, as Jael is perfectly content to eat Macoroni and Cheese at every meal. I will have more free time and will have a chance to catch up on some of my projects.

But all of the silver linings in the world will not grant me the motivation to use these two weeks wisely. My previous behavior during Israel’s absences has been to eat myself sick and stay up WAAAAAY to late. I’m hoping that a year and half of growth and maturity will have given me a bit more self discipline. I know the sleep thing will be an issue…it always is, even when Israel is simply working nights. But I’m hoping that since I have a class, which is very important to me, to be alert for and multiple homeschool related things, I will not abuse my body too much.

Also the shortness of the TDY should help with that. I’m not going to have two weeks to get back on track before Israel returns. If I spend two weeks making myself sick he’s going to come home to a sick wife and I don’t want that.

What’s really concerning me is driving to Frankfurt and moreso, driving back from Frankfurt by myself. I’m nervous. I’ve driven in Trier and gotten lost each time. I am not looking forward to driving in Frankfurt and getting lost when I don’t have a navigator sitting in the seat next to me. *sigh*

And you know what’s really frustrating? When it’s all said and done, I will be fine. I will be better for my Frankfurt adventure and I’ll be really glad it happened. I will have grown and learned and it will be a good experience, one I wouldn’t trade for anything.

*sigh* And now, I need to go put clothes in the laundry so that I can sew patches on tomorrow. I HATE sewing patches on and, no, I won’t grow from it or learn from it or look back and be glad I had the experience. It’s purely because of the highway robbery they practice at the alterations shop and the lengthy wait that I am sewing the patches on and not paying someone else to suffer through it.

 

Inspired by a new friend February 6, 2009

Filed under: Anecdotal,Political,Religious — Addicted to Yarn @ 3:55 pm
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I have made some new friends here in Germany (I hope I can be so forward as to call them friends…I’ve only just met most of them) and one inspired me today. She is an artist and blogs here at wordpress. Last month she took part in a challenge. A 31 day, art journal challenge and posted her results on her blog. I was very impressed with her work and felt inspired to make something that expressed how I was feeling. So I made this…

The feeling of the day is...Bleh

The feeling of the day is...Bleh

The back reads, “A little art journaling to go with a “Bleh” day. Israel’s feeling poorly, Jael’s crazy, I got an “eh” hair cut. Restless and bored feeling. A “Bleh” day. So I made a pretty!”

And that about sums it up. This was done in my sketch pad, 5.5 X 8.5 inches, with a black Uniball, mirco point pen. I love those pens. I think I might have used this one up though. Oops. Sorry Israel. (They are his favorite pens too and I have only recently started using them and so they still feel like they are “his,” you know?)

Anyway, it was fun to do and I used some techniques Sheri taught the kids in Art Class on Thursday. We did something called “Zen Tangles” (correct me if I got the name wrong) and that was the inspiration for the design of “Bleh.”

Other than that, life’s going. I’m in the middle of an internet argument which is always pointless and heartburn causing. My aunt posted a “letter” on Facebook. It’s written as though the Republicans/conservatives were writing a divorce letter to the Democrats/liberals and were deciding how to divide the country. The Right gets the guns, military, NRA, cops, etc. The Left can “keep your precious homeless, hippies, homeboys, and illegal aliens.”

The Right keeps their gas guzzling SUV’s and full size sedans and the Left gets Micheal Moore, Rosie O’Donnell and Oprah (if they can find a bio-diesel vehicle large enough to fit them into).

There was a lot more but these were the two things I chose to comment on. First off, my aunt is a Christian and knows her Bible. So I simply suggested that the “libs” take the verses from the Old Testament that commanded the government take care of the poor and the alien. I explained that bio-diesel would run in any normal diesel engine so a normal semi ought to be large enough to fit their fat butts into…since the left has such a corner on fatties. (That last line might have been a little harsh but come one. Everyone’s got fat people on their side. Are skinny people the only one’s allowed to have an opinion? I mean, what if they other side notices that your spokesperson is fat? OH NO!)

So then some guy is like, “bio-diesel sucks. Truckers hate it. What’s wrong with good old oil? Illigal aliens are rapists and murders and job stealers. They don’t pay taxes but we have to pay for their medical bills etc, etc.”

Oh, and my aunt said, “Lighten up, Becky. It’s just a joke.” Yeah, I’ll bet the homeless would laugh their asses off if you read it to them.

I responded (which I probably shouldn’t have but dang it, the guy was an idiot) and said that oil has become a dirty word because it’s a non-renewable resource and when it’s gone, it’s gone so if there are alternatives, let’s use them. We need oil for other petroleum based things like fertilizer. We CANNOT produce our current level of food without petro-chemical fertilizers. I also suggested he check his sources before saying illegals are rapists and murders and informed him that many of them pay taxes but are unable to recieve any benefit from them.

And then I said, “I don’t think this letter was funny. I think it was rude and mean-spirited…The Church should be taking care of the poor but she’s not. When God gave his nation his law he included in the civil law rules for caring for the poor. If you are going to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you are going to follow, choose love, not hate.” Or something very similar to that at least.

So I don’t know. I probably just started a flame war on my Aunt’s page. I wish I felt bad but I don’t. She posted something mean and ill-thought out and I simply pointed out the flaws in it. Of course, no one will change. We humans, we are opposed to change. Changing is the hardest thing any of us ever do.*sigh*

Maybe that’s why I change hobbies so much. That way it never hurts!

Anyway, Life goes on.