Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Friday, August 26, 2011

oh canada, oh brother

Great guy and I are in Canada.

Beautiful mountain goodness filled with family-time chaos,
sprinkled with treasured friend moments.

Tomorrow my brother becomes a husband...and I can't believe it.
Just yesterday, it seems, he was following my friends and I around, irritating the heck out of us and driving us crazy. And now, everyone just wants to hang out with him.

The two of us have always been close; us 2 clinging to each other through childhood, riding the nutso wave that was our family life. We were surrounded by amazing adults and friends who loved and cared for us and taught us how to be good people (whatever that actually means).

One of my favorite memories with my brother was travelling to France on a spontaneous trip, before he headed to Ghana. The 2 of us laughed and walked and laughed, for 2 weeks straight. We would infuse each sentence to eachother, with whichever french words popped into our heads, just so that we could feel 'French'. My brother would tell me historically inaccurate tales about the area we were in, cracking me up like I've never cracked up before. All I remember of that trip was sitting on river benches drinking wine, eating baguette, and laughing.

My brother is strong and fragile, brilliant and normal, funny and dark, warm and warm. He is a wonderful father, brother, friend and, I have no doubt, will be a wonderful husband. I'm so honoured and excited that I get to be his 'best woman' tomorrow as he marries his best friend.

Congrats Bruderherz...and welcome to the fam, Jai!!
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

cheers!

This morning I got into a car, then hopped onto a train, and then boarded a plane. As I passed through security in Frankfurt, before boarding said plane, this happened to me:

'This-would-never-happen-in-Canada' Story #827

As my 2 pieces of carry-on luggage pass through the scanner, I see the scanner guy (you know the one with blood-shot eyes, looking so bored out of his mind he might fall over and die any minute?)sit upright to get a closer look at the 3D image of my suitcase on his screen. I mentally re-trace my packing steps from late last-night, thinking that I couldn't possibly have put any sharp or liquidy objects in the bag. The friendly bag-checker lady waves me over and asks me to open the suitcase, telling me that it looks like I have 2 piccolos (mini-bottles) inside. Oh @$@#%$%*! I put the 2 bottles of my liebling sekt (favorite poor-man's champagne), which I wanted for my birthday, in the wrong suitcase!!! Arrgh! Oh well, so I tell her how stupid I am and that it's sad that I have to throw them away, and she says, "Well, you can drink them right here if you want". I was like, "What? Seriously?"...."OK, why not!" I only had 20 hours of travel ahead of me...ok, it was only 9 am...but it was 5 o'clock somewhere!! So I opened one little bottle and handed the other one to the guy behind me, we 'cheersed' and then I had a little drinky with him and his girl-friend, at security, in the airport. That would never happen in Canada.

As I write this entry, I am sitting 32 000 feet above...somewhere, having just watched the Justin Bieber movie (actually a very moving piece of cinematography...I cried...and now can't stop singing "baby, baby, baby ohhh"...passengers are starting to notice). And, I have been going over the events of this past week.

I started a new job. A real job. With a significant contract. It took me about 4 weeks to actually sign it. Great guy and I talked about it a lot. He encouraged me to go for it. But, it's a committment. Now, with my first week behind me, I am feeling like this will be a good decision for me. When I return to Germany at the beginning of September, I will begin teaching English classes to cute, little German kids ages 5 to 7, every afternoon, in beautiful, little German towns on my side of the Rhein. The classes are run through a private organization, for interested communities and groups who want to learn foreign languages. There are 'English for Seniors' classes(which I might also have to start teaching..how fun!) along with classes for companies wanting to learn English-specific terminology and conversation for their industry. I'm excited.

This week I realized that as I jump over and push through each little hurdle here; whether it has to do with the language, work, money, relationship stuff, or moving to a different continent, I am feeling more and more comfortable and able and secure in my new life, in this new place, with my g.g. One less lonely girl.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

birthday partying

After days of sweeping, mowing, weeding, cleaning and hauling reno garbage away, great guy’s birthday finally arrived. I had the day off from my tutoring and wine mini-jobs and so I woke early to make coffee for the birthday boy and drove him to the train station (saved him the 5 minute walk…nice of me eh?).

I spent the morning snipping and chopping, picking and slicing, preparing for the little grill fest we were having in the evening. I even baked a typical, Canadian, chocolate cake complete with Kick-Ass Icing, whose recipes I have from my dear Saskatchawan-ites. Then, I headed out to get flowers and fresh bread.

Now, I love bakeries, and the ones in Germany are great. But, something that I love even a little bit more than a bakery is a bread ATM. Yup, that’s right. There are bread ATM’s here, where upon pushing the photo of a baguette or bun or a whole assortment of different breads, out plops a warm, freshly-baked loaf, smelling amazing. I have absolutely no idea how it works…to me it’s bread magic.

So, I pushed the baguette button four times and down dropped my beautifully, smelling baguettes. Then I headed to the pick-it-yourself field of sunflowers. Here you snip away, creating bouquets of whatever flowers you wish, then simply deposit your cash into a little 2 metre- high, wooden hut when you’re finished…I call it honour picking.

After great guy got home, and had a birthday nappy, he began to set up his new grill. It is stainless steel and shiny…so he was very happy (the guy is very easy to please). The father and maid marion and best friend were the first ones to appear on the scene…and the festivities eased into place.

Friends began arriving, amidst showers of pouring rain, with warm smiles and arms loaded with gifts of flowers and bottles of wine, even a huge basket overflowing with fresh-picked, garden veggies (super cool gift!). We christened the giant, fire bowl (a gift from the father) which we placed close to the river surrounded by wooden benches. There was laughter, umbrellas, bratwurst, and lots of wet.

The evening ended, late into the night, with rock ‘n roller and mickey in a heated discussion about the environment. Business as usual.

Happy Birthday Honey…let’s do it again next year!
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

dock?

As we stepped into great guy’s little motorboat Sunday afternoon, he said to make sure we bring along the hedge clippers. I thought, ‘how many hedges are we going to clip as we zoom around out on the river?’ As usual, I had no idea what he was thinking, and so I just grabbed the clippers and plopped them into the boat.

It was the first, nice, blue-sky afternoon in a long time and so we were heading to our favorite place to have a currywurst with pommes and mayo (something I love way too much), and a schoppen (wine spritzer). Since this fave place sits right on the Rhein (hence, why we like it so much) it just makes sense for us to take the boat…and saves up parking spaces for the poor losers who need to take a car!

The only problem, which great guy has turned into an adventure, is that he doesn’t actually have a dock at this fave place. People can rent their own private little dock, but there is no public one. And since one of his life’s mottos is ‘why spend money when you don’t have to’, he came up with his own docking solution.

The first time I went along by boat, stepmum happened to be with us from Canada, fresh from her knee operation which she had here. She howled and laughed with glee, as we zoomed up the Rhein, really really happy to be on a boat again. As we slowed down and glided past the boats tied up at their own docks, I wondered where we were going to tie up. Would we throw down our little anchor and have to jump out, somehow carrying stepmum with her crutches through the water to shore? Oh my, how glad I was that my dad wasn’t here to witness this!

Of course, great guy had a different plan. We came up to a drainage canal and he turned into it. There was a cement wall, about a foot wide, which he tied the boat to. Handily, there was an iron loop right there, for us to use…most likely great guy welded that into place years ago! The wall slanted upwards to the top of the small, bushy shoreline. The canal water was murky and algae-infested and I had no idea how stepmum was going to climb up the wall, without putting weight on to her leg and falling in. I already had visions of pulling her out, all drenched, covered with weeds and green stuff.

But, she’s a sportler or maybe ‘trooper’ is a better word. She laughed and thought it was all quite funny. With me on the wall, great guy in the boat, and a crutch in one hand she climbed on to the wall and very cautiously shuffled up the small slope. At the top, great guy showed us a vague path through the thorny, bumbleberry bushes, which we needed to negotiate. He went ahead, stepmum hoppled along, and I followed. It was all surprisingly smooth and easy.

So, yesterday, as great guy and I sped up the Rhein, passing long, slow freighters with great names like, ‘helena jacoba’, ‘illusion’ and the best, giant boat name ever, ‘sneek’ (love it!), he told me that the clippers were to clear a better path through the berry bushes from his own, private ‘dock’. ..probably for the next time we bring outta town guests to our fave place. Ahh, all clear now. Sometimes I’m a little slow. Sneek.
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