Dear Lord. It has been a crazy month of searching this little town of Münster for an apartment. We found one, we lost one. We saw some, we wished we hadn't. And then, I fell in love.
German apartments rarely come fitted with a kitchen. I don't mean that appliances aren't included, I mean NOTHING is included. The entire kitchen, cabinets and all, are often stripped when the old renter moves on to their new place. We walked into at least five apartments where the kitchen is nothing but a plumbing part for your sink. A sink that you're going to buy in a German DIY store, if only you can remember how to say "sink" in German. But you can't, and you will leave close to tears.
My new love was no exception. It was a half way renovated top floor flat in a historic building, in a historic neighbourhood, with a chocolate shop out the front door. We made a deal with the devil (not Claudia, but her older, meaner brother) and agreed to finish the renovations if they would guarantee that we could have the place. And that is where we now stand. My mathematically inclined husband has agreed to install flooring into a sensitive apartment and we're on the lookout for mineral paint so the exterior walls can breath - owner's orders. If there are any men out there who want an all expense paid trip to Germany in exchange for finishing our flooring once Aaron gets started on it, let me know. It will inevitably save us money and quite possibly a marriage. Deadly serious over here.
"Before" pictures coming up later today.
Have you ever been felt up by your doctor? If you haven't, I highly recommend it. Even if it's for legitimate reasons, somewhere in your head you will say "This is so COOL, this doctor is totally into me!"
My Babcia has been on rat poison for about three years now. Her leg was supremely swollen so we took her to the doctors and then straight to the hospital to kill the shit out of the blood clod that was threatening to navigate its way into critical organs. It was probably the worst thing that has ever happened to her life. More so than the death of her husband, the loss of her farm, what has affected her the most is the weekly blood test to make sure that her rat poison is doing what it's supposed to. It's also affected her immediate family and generally consumed the lives of everyone who has ever loved her.
So, when my left leg presented itself as somewhat more voluptuous than my right leg, I made the terrifying leap of visiting a German doctor for the first time. He noted the swelling and then left the room and came back with a needle and two options. One, you can go to the hospital, but you will wait forever; or Two, I can inject you with Heparin to make sure that if there is a clot, we can dissolve it then and there. I went with the shot, which stung like a son of a bitch, and instructions to come back the next day for an ultrasound of my leg.
Next day, new Doctor. He asks me expose my leg, so naturally I pull UP my pant leg only to be met with a "This won't work, perhaps you take your pants off?" Like, right there. The modesty towel never appeared. Thank CHRIST it was laundry day and I had nice underwear on. Double points actually, because I was also in a good wife mood and had shaved the hairs that were still on my legs as a memento from Canada. Anyway, there I was, face down on his little hospitalish bed, ass out, when he describes, with his fingers, how the veins start out large right under your butt cheek, and then get tiny tiny tiny as they run down to your ankle. I don't even remember if he said I had a blood clot or not. Moral of the story, cultural differences ROCK!
And if you are genuinely curious as to whether I'm going to be alright or not, I don't know. I did some blood work and am waiting for the results. My left leg was one and a half centimetres larger than the right, which could be concerning. That said, my left breast is bigger than my right, and I've never looked into that before. Hmm, maybe I should?!
It's been brought to my attention that my language is offending some people. I don't want to draw too much attention to who it is, so I chose to call this weekly post "Modest Mondays" as opposed to "M.I.L Mondays" because that would be too obvious. Possibly.
Here it goes - a wholesome post.
The family and I had a lovely weekend, filled with sunshine and giggles and cultural experiences. Namely, we went to a sand museum in a nearby village and I laughed my heiney off at the absurdity of it all.
Eloise likes to pick "poisonous berries" and squash them. We've tried telling her - THEY'RE POISONOUS, which of course means nothing, except that to her they now have a name. I decided I would take pictures of all the different poisonous berries that were around town yesterday. My day consisted of yelling out poisonous berries at every turn. Poisonous berries, poisonous berries, poisonous berries!
So, I've just found out the reason why it has been so hard to lose weight here in Germany, despite all the walking and activity we've been up to.
The German way of saying it is "zu viele Kartoffeln". Which doesn't mean "You're pregnant", but rather translates to "Too many potatoes."
But I'm not letting it get me down. In fact, my figure is so cooperative I can fit into any scarf I try on. Go me!!
Side note: Aaron, who loves to read over my shoulder, just said "I don't get it." Adding that the above post is "Only funny if you know you're trying to be funny." Just to clarify, I was trying to be funny.
Have you ever been lost in the woods in rural Germany? Let me tell you, it's fucking terrifying. Those Grimm Brothers weren't stretching any imagination when they talked about Witch's houses, except that there isn't any candy, only murderers. Between the dilapidated structures and the corn fields, we walked for 7 kilometres in the pitch dark. A moonless night, with only the crow's caw to keep us company. (How's that for imagery??)
After dinner we decided to take a "popular" trail in the village of Handorf back to our bus stop. This is where my love of guide books ended in heartbreak. "Popular" could mean so many things, including "deserted in October, you stupid twat."
Trying to reassure two children that we were safe was difficult as we didn't feel it. You really have to feel something to be enthusiastic about it, and that we weren't. So we just kept on trucking, while in my head I knew I could blame Claudia for our murder because the trail was all her idea. Except that I would be murdered, so I couldn't blame ANYBODY. Does the word murder bother anyone? Cause I'm done now.
Finally, we saw a Crucifix in the cornfield so we knew we would be safe. Christ is reassuring. Except when Christ is just a big advertisement for the graveyard that we're suddenly standing beside. I want you to visualize a pretty touristy looking family suddenly start running away with a buggy and attached "Buggy Board". It wasn't pretty.
Eventually we did make it back to our bus stop, Eloise asleep in her buggy, dreaming of candy houses.
Zoo! (Zoo, zoo.) I've decided to write a post in honour of Raffi, musical genius and all around good guy. He sings this song called "We're going to the Zoo" and if you have children, you've no doubt heard it at least once. Or in our case, a thousand times in rapid succession, the morning we told the girls that we were, indeed, going to the Zoo.
The Zoo here was pretty excellent. It was very shady (because of trees, not mooks) and there were 7 playgrounds where the parents could rest - and have booze! - while the kids did their thing. I am notorious for hating parks, but this - lack of responsibility combined with drinking - is something I could definitely get behind.
It was a much quieter Zoo than our tried and true Toronto Zoo, which was nice for rambling and spending actual time with the animals. BECAUSE, unless the animal had the potential to rip your face to shreds, you could actually spend time with them. Like the Meerkats and the Cheetahs. Eloise had to be physically held back from taking the baby cheetah who was hiding in the corner, away from its Mom. In Eloise's defence, she comes from Crazy Cat Lady stock (not me, it skips a generation) and this one was pretty freaking cute.
Ha! Tricked you! You stuck around to hear about my Ode to Raffi, and all you got was a lousy slideshow of my kids at the Zoo. I'm sneaky like that.
Blah. It's been raining since last Tuesday. I'm roasting brussels sprouts, so now the house smells like fart. Eloise was entertaining herself by jumping on the bed, she fell off, and now I'm listening to her cry like a lost dog. Claudia is grunting at her - "errrgh!" and whining for me to put Eloise to bed.
I've attempted to point out to random citizens that it's been raining for a week straight, and I'm met with the "Welcome to Münster!" response. What a complacent group. Don't they know that this, this complaining of the weather, is what you're supposed to do? In all circumstances!
Christ, I can't wait until it hits 30 with the humidity here so I can complain at how unseasonal it is. That's what my family back home did, I'm sure, as they laid down at the beach this past Sunday.
Germany is funking me up this week.
The first morning after we arrived, we ventured out into the German unknown and tried to buy ourselves some groceries. Some items inevitably were easier to identify than others. Bananas looked the same, so we picked up some of those. Grapes too. (That's a lie, the grapes are smaller and sweeter.) Off to the dairy aisle. Oh my God, they love their dairy. Yogurts, quark, creme fraiche, cream cheese, all sorts of other cheese, but no cream for my coffee. Shit, I'm lying again. There is cream, it's whipping cream. Like we're supposed to be smart enough to know that if you want less than 35% milk fat we should just mix in some milk. I'm not smart enough, so I buy evaporated milk, which is the norm. Tangent. Right, cherry tarts.
Off to the butter. So pretty, so many to choose from. "What the fuck is PIG BUTTER????" Gag. "Oh, it's lard. Okay then." I understand lard. Use it to fry your chicken or make your pie crusts extra tender. Right? Wrong!!
I decided today that I would do Babica proud and make the cherry tarts that sustained me through my childhood. So I went to buy that lard to make my pastry. Pastry terrifies me, by the way, so please be proud of me for even attempting to do this. So I bring the lard to "our" cashier, the one who speaks English, and she says "This is not butter." I explain that I know that it's lard and I'm going to make tart crusts with it. The customer behind me says, "No you only use this to fry stuff with." I say that at home you can use lard also for pastry. Because I am like some kind of cultural ambassador from Canada. That's when the cashier, our cashier, stands up, goes to the dairy aisle and grabs me some butter. "Maybe they do that in other countries, but we don't do that here."
Here's a picture of my finished cherry tart. With butter pastry crust. Cause that's how we roll here.
On the phone with Babcia the other night she told me that it would make her very happy if I lost some (or 20) pounds by the time she sees me at Christmas. At this rate, I don't think it's going to happen.
The last time Aaron and I opted to stay in a "vibrant" area of town, we found ourselves at the corner of Crack & Murder in San Francisco. Despite this, we decided to take a look around the Hansaring area of Münster, as a possible place to rent our next apartment. It's described as up and coming, with old warehouses being converted into lofts and young professionals and families moving in by the dozen. Luckily, not only is the area genuinely vibrant, but it made me nostalgic for Hamilton. Since the rent is cheap, a lot of young people are able to open up shop where they otherwise couldn't. Walking around, we were reminded of James St. North, where people with a passion have found a niche in which to express it. One such place was this cafe, the name of which is escaping me, but I will try to track it down. The girls, who just 2 weeks ago did the enviable task of opening up their own shop, were cute. They were able to decorate their cafe like an eco modern dollhouse, complete with disco ball and hip music. Our girls could not resist the "disco beat" as Claudia said, referencing her favourite poem "Funky Snowman". Even if we don't end up finding a place nearby, we plan to return and show our support to the young and adventurous.