June 23, 2002

Last week we started getting into a normal routine, things are pretty settled with the house. We still have a mess of empty and a few full boxes in the Keller, but it’s all stuff that stays there…just needs sorted. Sue went to Heidelberg on Thursday on a variety of errands. She found the TV we had been waiting to arrive at the Powerzone and bought it. They had just put them out 20 mins. before she got there and only had 2. She got lucky, good timing. With the Commissary, USO, tax office, 2 banks, and exchange…it took all day. She got home just in time to unload the groceries and head to Germersheim to pick me up. Just before she left the house, the sky opened up with terrible rain and large hail. Cars were parked along the road, branches, leaves and debris were being blown and knocked down. The tobacco crop looks to be especially damaged from the hail. She made it safely through der gewitter und after getting me, we went home and I unloaded and hooked up the TV. The DVD home theater system and VCR work fine, the surround sound is awesome. I tested it with "Lost in Space"…it was like being in the theater, you could feel the explosions. But we didn’t have any TV channels, likely I don’t know how to program the receiver since it’s all in German. I expected that and asked Hilmar earlier for some help, he’s coming over tomorrow to set it up.

Friday was the USA-Germany World Cup quarter final playoff. USA was a surprise team to get this far and we had high hopes they could beat the Germans. There was plenty of friendly ribbing all week between nationalities. I wondered if it would all be friendly once USA won...they take their soccer seriously. We had the game on at work all afternoon, and although USA pretty much dominated the game in ball control, the Germans got 1 goal and the final score was Germany 1-0. Oh well, that's OK. I think the generation that was raised on soccer in the US is coming of age and we’ll be a major soccer force in the future. That evening Hilmar came over in the evening but was unable to get the receiver working. He thinks either there’s something wrong with the LNB, dish, or maybe alignment. Could be the receiver too, but we don’t know. Hilmar has a friend that does TV work . . . he’s on vacation now but he’ll ask him to come over when he returns. In the meantime we have movies to watch! And it’s no big deal anyway, since the only English channel is CNN and maybe some other news channel. Of course, MTV, VIVA, and TV total are mostly music and nice to have, and the German stations have some good stuff, even without words (not just late at night!). So that night we watched "Lost in Space". It was a good movie that was made better by the great sound system.

Yesterday (Saturday) was a gorgeous day, hot in the afternoon. We got up early, Sue made us American style Pancakes, and we did a few things around the house then went exploring locally. We’d read about a wine fest in Essingen so started out for there. On the way to Essingen, we drove through a town (whose name has now slipped our collective memory!) and saw a stork’s nest on top of a chimney with 2 storks in it . . . a good omen!! When we arrived in Essingen, we found the wine fest empty, must be an evening thing. So we had lunch at an Essingen Gasthaus in the biergarten in the shade, quite pleasant. Sue had wurstsalat u. bratkartoffeln. The wurstsalat was quite good with onions and pieces of sweet pickle which gave it a sweet flavor. The Kasespatzele Joel had was OK, had plenty of fried onions, but needed salt. Buddy had a bowl of wasser and was content to lie in the gravel. After lunch we walked up the street past a lovely Friedhof, each grave neatly kept as a garten. There’s even buckets hanging around a faucet for people to use to water the "grave gartens". People spend lots of time caring for them, a nice memorial. We walked to a farm road where we could let Buddy run a bit, but it was getting very hot. He didn’t run too long before we were too hot to continue and headed back to the car. By the time we returned Buddy was tired too. Undaunted, we headed for another winefest we saw a sign for in Ungstein, just north of Bad Durkheim. We drove thought the town and found the fest just outside, in a ruin of a roman villa amidst wine fields. It was a short uphill walk in the heat to get to it, but well worth it. Excellent wine and good food. Sue had a kammsteak sandwich, I had a Saumaugenwurst, which is the filling of a saumaugen… meat and potatoes, in a wurst casing…oh so wonderful and some bratkartoffeln fried on the grill, with the wurst, greasy and so good. I went to find a bowl and wasser for Buddy and after some communication problems was successful. We hung out for a while and decided to start the trip home. The weinschorles on a hot day were taking their toll on me. Lucky a designated driver was along. Sue had been drinking Traubensaftschorles, it was quite tasty, without the kick. They used white grape juice. No one could tell it was not wine. I should drink those on these hot days, after a little wine of course. Sue commented that she missed the buzz but knew she would not feel bad, good point. I enjoyed the ride home, nice to be able to look around. Buddy was zonked out; the heat had taken its toll too on him. At home we all relaxed awhile, then I joined buddy in a short nap while Sue took a shower & primped.

Sue had been having Eis cravings all afternoon, and so I obliged in the evening and we went to the Eis café in Rheinzabern. We sat in the back, outside and enjoyed a Heidelbeer (Blueberry) Becher for me and a Nussbecher for Sue, yum.

Determined to make use of the daylight on the longest day of the year (we left the Eis café at about 2145 in broad daylight!), our adventurous duo decided to check out a Parkfest in Bellheim that we had seen signs in Hatzenbuhl for. We heard the fest once we got there, but couldn’t figure out how to drive there so we parked as close to the sound as we could and started walking. It was just a short walk, and it looked like walking was the only way in, and it was packed, several thousand people. A very good band was onstage singing rock musik, mostly British and US classics from the 70’s and 80’s. It was dark by now, about 10:30, very pleasant, even with feeding the mosquitoes. The beer stand line was very, very long…as were most of the other lines. The sekt stand was not too bad and after a brief wait I had a Sekt orange, tasty but a bit sweet for my tastes, Sue tasted it and liked it a lot. She does not drink, against her doctor’s advice ;-) but enjoys a taste from time to time. We hung around listening to the tunes, then at 23:30 the fireworks began, we didn’t know about them, Sue jumped at the first bang. A nice show displayed while the band played an extended version of "I believe I can Fly". Shortly before midnight we left for home, having put in a full and most enjoyable day, we were asleep soon after we got home.

So, to the present…This morning we slept in until 9. My back hurts a bit from lying in bed too long, I’m used to 6 or 7 hours. Had showers and coffee and started this Journal, started inside, then moved to the balcony. Sue is working on a sampler she's making for Karson. Outdoor living at it’s finest. We’re shaded by the house from the morning sun, but it shines on the garten and makes a wonderful view. The temp is perfect, maybe low eighties, no humidity. Even indoors it’s like living outdoors, with large windows that completely open and walls of glass opening to the terrace and balcony… no screens… it’s like living at the beach. Sue even has hung the bamboo windchimes we got at Sunset beach to add to the feel. Don’t know what the rest of the day will bring. Sue called Estelle at about 10:30, and woke her up, she had taken Camassa and her friends to the disco the night before for her 16th birthday. We were going to invite them over for a cookout but she has to take the girls home to the Mannheim area.

When we went to the bakery this morning for brotchen (Stores are all closed Sundays, except some bakeries are open 3 hours in the morning to get bread and brotchen, since it’s bought fresh daily) we noticed a sign for a Musikfest today right here in Hatzenbuhl and saw them setting up at the Rathaus, so we decided to go there for lunch. We walked down about 1300, quite a few people. The local community band was playing. We bought drinks and lunch- wurst salad & Pommes for me and Sue had a steak sandwich and wurst salat & Pommes… Eating for 2. Then we both had Kuchen for dessert. A larger band from another town came on stage and played while we ate, they were quite good, the band leader was an excellent trumpet player, as were several others. It was very hot so we moved under the fest tent after watching a little bocci ball. Just can’t figure out that game. We listened to the band and watched the people for a while, then headed back home. Soon Joel and Buddy were napping. Later in the evening Sue made Burgers on the Grill, neither of us ate much, still full from lunch. So now I’m finishing this Journal, it’s 2030, just starting to cool off. I may study a little for Tuesday’s German class, then off to bed early. Tomorrow Sue has another doctor appointment, the last one with the doctor in Heidelberg.