Sunday, March 22, 2009

In the land of Benedict...not quite the German shepherd we were looking for...

So today Miller and I went Pope hunting. Not really! As we live very near the birth place of our dear Pope, we often think of him. At least I think of him, as far as I know, Miller has passing appreciation for the man he refers to as "Benny". We decided to take a Sunday drive , as is quite in fashion here, but as we are in farm country, most residents' drives include farm equipment. We strolled through the green countryside our Pope grew up in and the Russians ravaged during World War Two. This place has just so much history! On our drive, we encountered many churches and shrines. It is astonishing that most of these structures were erected long before the United States separated from England. Although spring, it was quite chilly and started to flurry. The pictures came out alright (including one of a three legged cat), yet the sky made for a very difficult time in trying to not make each photo look washed out. The relative humidity also gave us a bothersome haze to work around, or that may have been simply from the sheer amount of cow dung each farmer uses to fertilize his fields! It has been a nice relaxing Sunday, as Miller is now reading a book on the couch. I have been taking a bit of time to refresh my mind on German history. I love the weekends....

All Around the Watch Tower

There must be some kind of way up there
Said the husband to the wife. . .

Jak and I went wandering yesterday on our bikes. That is a nice way of saying we spent the day mildly lost. Though I suppose we could contest the lost thing, because if you really don't have a destination, I do not think you can really be lost on the way to nowhere. Nonetheless, we were faced with the most difficult of decisions that shall face us many times, namely left, right and sometimes even straight. We started from Grafenwoehr towards Pressath and wandered our way from there along the beautiful bike paths and perfect one lane roads that are all over this area. The roads are actually one lane in size only, they are used for occasional two way traffic at 100K an hour both ways. It is exciting to drive them, but for riding they are absolutley amazing. They go through gently rolling farm land, populated with the most picturesque little villages and buildings. I love seeing the village signs when riding in or out, one that we rode through yesterday has been there since 1291. Even the young villages are older than the US. We eventually started to guide our wanderings towards a watch tower that stands above the whole plain near Neustadt am Kulm. It turns out that the watchtower is located on top of an actual basalt volcano cone. We ended up riding the dirt roads to try to reach the tower on top, but in the end we would have needed to walk up some serious hiking trails, which in bike shoes would not have been fun. Our ride back took us past what appears to be a really beautiful monastary. I realize that my narration of the ride is rather linear, and lacking in any sort of good descriptive words or onamotapetic phrases. But pictures really do speak much better for our ride than I can. It is the sort of riding that makes you not want to stop, except when you begin to bonk so hard that your wife laughs as she blows by you on slight hills.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I love my bowl mixer!

Look out Nana, here I come! Having finally gotten a nice kitchen back, in all spare time that I can find, I have been cooking and baking like a fiend! Although Miller has been eating everything I put in front of him, tonight, I decided to pull out the stops. As we are having guests over (Ethan and his girlfriend), I thought a special meal was appropriate. Our Canadian delight of brown potatoes and pork fit the bill! So I dragged out my heaviest cast-iron dutch oven and went to work. I did over ten burn cycles before I was pleased with the color of the ancient Chinese secret for me (well, they don't sell gravy master here anyway!). I also tried a new french bread recipe found in my trusty Better Homes and Garden's Cookbook. With the help of my Kitchenaid mixer (thanks Nana and Grampa!) it was just so little work! The dough certainly rose the best of any I have made, and created two light, large crusty loaves! Next of course was dessert, and a quick and easy banana bread came out perfectly....I certainly missed Miller when I was in Virginia, but darn, I missed cooking almost as much! I now sleep with my pistachio mixer by my bed, as I suffered from severe separation anxiety...never again could I leave it for so long!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Together At Last!

Well, as the title would imply, for the first time in far far too long Jak and I are back to having our own house to share, not for a few days but for months and months and maybe even years!! I picked up Jak from Frankfurt yesterday and brought her to home, Building 116B, in Graf. She immediately whipped the house, and I into shape before collapsing gratefully into our swimming pool sized tub and than our amazing Serta bed. I must say, whatever those animated sheep do in those commercials, it works. We slept quite well in that! Today brought our first morning together, with Pillsbury Orange Rolls, which Jak has a definite weakness for. We journeyed out today, and went to several bike shops to see what they have. I must report the sad demise of my beloved dinosaur shower curtain, he has been replaced with a flowery one that better matches the decor of the bathroom. In a fair fight, without Jak on his side, my Dinosaur's would eat those wussy flowers. . . Miller

So...I love Germany! Miller and I took a great ride today. There are great bike paths everywhere. It seems like all elderly people have bikes and ride them everywhere! So we shared our lovely path with some older people out for a stroll or ride, as it was Sunday and NOTHING is open on Sundays. It is so nice, as there are little farms everywhere, and these really nice shrines on the sides of all the roads from hundreds of years ago! On a totally unrelated point....In defense of my shower curtain....well...I don't live in a kindergarten, so I am not quite inclined to have dinos in the bathroom. We spent the first couple days here trying to get the place in shape (at least to a point where I would live in it!). If you all want to see what the rest of our place looks like, pictures are on flickr. We have yet to get our living room and office in order, so there are not pictures of those areas or the hall, which I need carpet for. Also, we need to pick up curtain rods, so there are no curtains yet. I really love it here! Our guest room is nice (it is the one with the striped bed spread) and we would love to have some family and friends over here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Quick Update

I regret that I have not had the same amount of adventures as my beautiful bride. I wish I had been able to share said adventures, but come this Friday we will be able to adventure together again! My adventures have been of a more frustrating nature, but there have been some great upsides. I am settling in really with my platoon, I have to say that I got lucky with the best platoon and the best NCO's in the Company. I have great faith that they will teach me what I need to do to do the transportation dance, while at the same time I will always remain at heart an Ordnance officer. We now have a really nice dining room table, and an amazing bed! It is a Serta, and anything that has a picture of sheep on it cannot be bad. The only downside to the arrival of my bride is that I have been informed that my beautiful dinosaur themed shower curtain will be removed (cough THROWN AWAY cough) upon her arrival. It and I are enjoying our last days together. Love to you all!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Old New Hampshire!

So yesterday in the fine state of New Hampshire it was 55 degrees and it has snowed 7 or so inches and is about 25. Just the way I like it! On Sunday, Mum, Alli and I went exploring. We decided to hike in southern NH, finding some new trails a bit closer to Manchester. Wilton, NH, specifically the Heald Trail system truly fit the bill. The first thing we saw when exciting the car were large bear tracks! I was excited, but Mum, not so much! We hiked up an old road, with many stone walls bordering the rough and snow covered track. Alli had it right with the snow shoes for much of the trail, but crampons worked fine too. The trails were a bit scattered with debris from the last ice storm, but that did not hinder our progress too much. We saw quite a few more animal tracks such as deer and what appeared to be large fisher prints, yet we did not see any of the animals who made them. We did find some interesting glacial erratics in some odd configurations. Overall, it was a great hike. There is nothing better than being in NH, in the woods, with people you love!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

We're all going to die! We have five inches of snow!

So tomorrow marks my graduation from Quartermaster Officer Basic Course! Although that is a truly exciting fact, that is not why I am blogging. This week we had a snow storm. It all started with a call from my friend Molina: "Hey Miller, look outside and see all these idiots jumping around in the snow." So, taking this wise New Yorker's advice, I opened the curtains and promptly started laughing. There must has been at least twenty people frolicking in about two inches of slushy junky white stuff. Now these were all adults, not a child in sight! It was like they had never seen snow before...well, I guess they may not have seen snow before! I am all for frolicking, but preferably in a secluded wood, where no one else is laughing at you from their hotel window. Anyway, with that being said, this Monday, the governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency....for FIVE inches of snow! Post was closed, and the power was down. So while others were freaking out, I was doing my snow day dance (my mum has seen it many a time, yet not since grade school). I had a free day with nothing to do! Well, I take that back, I had to go to the post office. The one on Ft. Lee was closed, so I ventured off into Hopewell. I expected people to stay home, but there were literally no cars on the road, so I took the opportunity to do a couple of E-brake slides around some corners. I made it to the post office only to be greeted (if one counts sneering as greeting) by the world's most ornery postal worker who complained constantly about the weather. Again, I laughed. With that done, I made it back on post and decided to go for a walk on the battlefield. I figured that the snow would keep the confederates at bay. I was right. Apart from a couple of my classmate who I meet at the trail head, I did not see a soul on the trails. My deer we bedded down somewhere else, so I had to content myself with taking numerous bird photos. Virginia's state bird, the cardinal was out in full force. I got some great photos of the males, but the females seemed a tad shy, and would fly off as soon as I spotted them. I also so quite a few carolina wrens. They are just fun birds, as they actually sit still! Although not as pretty, I did see quite a few turkey vultures as well. I did not know this, but these birds prefer their meat to be a few days old before consuming it, and due to their weak feet, they cannot hold on to live prey....interesting, huh? Although I saw plenty of individual birds, I only saw two more species during my walk. I am having a hell of a time identifying this little guy. The others were really obvious, but I just have no idea, about this one, so I will call him Fluffy, the gray bird! I also saw a cooper's hawk, a first for me, but was unable to get my camera up in time! Earlier in the week, while walking along the river, I was lucky enough to see a bald eagle, who winter in this area! Anyway, enough of my rambling! Enjoy the rest of the photos at!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Better To Beg Forgiveness. . .

Than To Ask Permission.
Just a short update, as I am quite tired. Things go well in Deutschland. I still apparently look German, at least when I wear a hat that hides my quite obviously US Military haircut. I have spent the last several days painting, hence the title. Painting is allowed, the self help place will give you several different colors, but I am not sure that they are all for the extent and colors I have been painting. The bedroom is now Blueberry (actually the exact color as scotch brand painters tape), the kitchen and dining room is Cognac (camel color to Jak and I) and the living room is Orange (the same orange as Rabobank for the cyclists out there) Painting has gone well even though I have managed to contract some wonderful sickness that feels a lot like strep. I will have to get it looked at next week as I have the class still this week. The end of this week should show my express shipment arriving (weeks after my slow shipment showed up) as well as my car and the new dining room table and bed. Busy week!! This weekend should yield a dog for Jak and I, hopefully to come home with me over the weekend, if not than to pick up during the week. Now I am off to bed in my amazing blue bedroom, counting down the days (11) until my bride gets here!! Sorry to not be interesting, I promise more poignant and flowing prose at a later date.