Travel: One Suitcase – 5 Weeks, Pt. 2

Goal: two cities, five weeks, one suitcase (must weigh less than 50 lbs to win)

So, added to last week’s styles are sturdy clothes for winter in Johannesburg, with excursions to see lions, leopards, Victoria Falls (on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe), and I hope to see some elephants, rhinos, giraffes, and zebras as well as all manner of springbok and other deer. I will still be working and trying to find some great candid photos of some of the life in South Africa.

Fully Packed

It all fits! And I weighed the bag on my digital scale — 24 lbs! Of course, that is before beauty products. This exercise is helping me with my packing anxiety. At least for the short term.

So, for my trip to Frankfurt, and then the next four weeks in Joburg, I have added layers. Here’s the bullet list:

  • Cargo pants, heavy weight and ready to be destroyed
  • Camouflage print pants
  • African wax print skirt
  • Vintage yellow polo sweater
  • Yellow cardigan
  • Olive lightweight wool sweater
  • White T-shirt
  • White thin cotton turtleneck
  • Black T-shirt
  • Mauve T-shirt
  • Metallic tank sweater
  • White rain shell
  • Hiking boots
  • Birkenstocks
  • Black flip flops
  • Olive drab jacket with “flair”
  • Three scarves, one cotton gingham, one rayon, one polyester (all white background, with black and a hint of accent color)

I think that I might be doing at least one more adjustment…

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Travel: Trip to Phoenix, AZ

_DSC0065.jpgThe American Southwest is a beautiful place reminiscent of western movies and alien desert landscapes. It is also a backdrop for other photo shoots and international travelers. I am lucky enough to have family in Phoenix, Arizona, so here is the bullet list for a short weekend trip in the “winter”–this trip was to put on Thanksgiving dinner for my dear mama.

Short plane ride from Denver to Phoenix:

  • Nice black leggings
  • Kenzo Paris Sweatshirt
  • Yak yarn sweater
  • Silk Scarf
  • Black and white running shoes

In my favorite carry-on suitcase:

  • Laboratory grade gravy separator
  • Travel sized cleanser, moisturizer
  • Less than 3 oz. CC+ cream with SPF 50
  • Gift with purchase mascara
  • Lipstick, lip gloss, and lip balm (all with SPF)
  • Eyebrow pencil
  • Brush
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 3 pairs of skivvs
  • Knit Pjs
  • Skinny Jeans
  • Cotton dress shirt
  • Apron
  • T-shirt
  • Belt
  • Meds
  • Thanksgiving Recipe Binder
  • Rosemary

Tote

  • Nikon Camera
  • Tripod
  • HD Video Camera (forgot that there was video built-in to Nikon)
  • Wallet
  • e-Reader

So the trip was beautiful and our gift of cooking Thanksgiving for the family was gratefully received. Here are some of our restaurant reviews:

Lindy’s on 4th (whaa, whaa, whaa, whaa)

First of all, I can’t blame Lindy’s for this review. Believe me, there are several things that set us up for a disastrous experience. 1) this is not the burger bar I thought it was, 2) one person in our party, always orders THE WORST ITEM ON THE MENU, from the time he was 16 and in Paris, he couldn’t catch a break–if there is one item on the menu that shouldn’t be there, he will order it, and it will be lackluster at best, hideous at worst, 3) same person was in great pain, 4) other person was feeling ill, like he had the flu. So, sorry Lindy’s, even with the darling waitperson, it just wasn’t good for us. I had the “special” a burger with the philly cheesesteak on top, with horseradish sauce. It was okay, and only okay due to the actual burger patty texture, kind of processed and spongy.

Person ordered the Philly cheesesteak (we are in Arizona at a burger bar for crying out loud) on a cheese roll. Other person split that with him. All I can say was the roll was cold and somewhat stale tasting, the meat somewhat dry. I can only have Philly Cheesesteak from a few places and those place are indeed in Philly! Yes, I am spoiled, and now I miss you Philadelphia!

Bella Luna (Bellisimo!)

This family-owned Italian restaurant charmed our socks off! The elderly man with the distinctly Italian accent made us overlook the location slightly dirty water glasses (who needs to drink tap water anyway?) The pasta we ordered, to a dish, was perfection. We thought that there must be someone making the pasta from scratch back in the kitchen. The sauces were authentic and were perfection. I have never had a better plate of butternut squash ravioli, and the person who always orders poorly? He ordered the alfredo, and we all agreed that it was superb! In fact, I want to eat some of that Pasta Alfredo everyday for the rest of my life!

Joe’s Farm Grill (I’m Proud to be an American!)

I had only been to Joe’s Farm Grill for dinner, and due to horrible traffic, we weren’t able to make it for dinner after our long drive down to San Xavier and back. So, we went for breakfast. It was the kind of breakfast that makes you feel proud to be an American. Proud to be a farmer, or descended from farmers, and reminds you of goodness in the world.

I had the waffles and ribs, which were fall off the bone perfection, even though this was the morning after Thanksgiving, and one person had the sausage and egg tacos, breaking his record of ordering poorly, (you can’t count Bella Luna, since I don’t believe that they have one bad item on the menu), and the other person decided on a waffle with a fresh strawberry shake. Heaven!!!

Oh, and for a some quirky fun, trust me on this, use the restroom. Just saying.

This was the perfect send off before we went to Sky Harbor airport to return to Denver via Los Angeles.

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These photos were taken just south of Tuscon, AZ at the Mission at San Xavier.

 

Leaving Crazytown

It makes me happy to see a resident of Crazytown taking the actions necessary to move out. After all, moving requires preparation and work. No one wakes up one morning and says, I’m moving today, and successfully changes from point A to point Z. I love this resident and have been coaching him to move out for years. At first, he just didn’t believe he was living in Crazytown. Crazytown was hip, it was where all of his friends lived. The nightlife was exciting and unpredictable.

He went through a phase in which he couldn’t make Crazytown work for him — so he wanted funding. Just help with a computer. Help with a couple of bucks for food. Help for heating. He needed socks. That went on for a few years, punctuated by bouts of shouting, crying, outrage, anxiety–the whole emotional rollercoaster at the carnival.

Next, he drowned his sorrows. He self-medicated. He destroyed relationships without acknowledging his rage. He blacked out. Often. One year, the day before Thanksgiving, he called me. Someone had broken into his apartment and left the deadbolt (which had been pried off completely) in the middle of the living room floor. In the living room had been two laptops — his and his girlfriends. His laptop had been stolen — his whole means of making money as a DJ. His girlfriend’s laptop hadn’t been touched. Apparently, the thief had entered his room, and stole a pair of his very expensive hipster jeans — waist size 28. He was so drunk, he didn’t hear someone steal his pants! The worst part, in those pants was his Louis Vuitton belt, still threaded through the belt loops.

Out of curiosity, how many thieves can actually wear a size 28 skinny jean? I mean really? I’ve seen meth addicts who couldn’t fit into those jeans — they were like leggings!

Anyway, this seemed to be the Crazytown cycle. Get to “rock bottom” and quit drinking/drugging. Go to church one week in a row. Feel better for two weeks. Repeat.

Girlfriends lasted about 2 years and then moved on.

And then the big 30 began to loom on the horizon. After 9 years, he was still cycling, still living behind the 8 ball — worse than paycheck to paycheck. Less than zero, less than zero, when it came to his budget. Light began to dawn, and the false shine of Crazytown looked cheap, like the fake gold that peels off of a plastic dish. The disguises were frayed, filthy, and cracked. He quit drinking. For weeks, over two months. He was clear headed and began making good choices.

He is packing his bags. He is serious this time. He is moving. He is not perfect, there has been a short lapse and a quick revisit to his own self-tortured agony. But with that, a renewal of commitment, and a fresh perspective of why.

Why do we do what we do?

St. Valentine’s Day: Anticipation

hermes-scarf-valentine-2017-2I find myself in Paris this St. Valentine’s Day. As if I were some amazing writer, world traveler, or jet-set member. All of which, I am not. And yet, here I am, living a romance novel character’s dream…let’s be honest, my dream!

My husband and I have been here to Paris twice before, we’ve walked past that amazing fixture of luxury restaurants, Maxim’s, and I have always put it out of my mind that I would ever have a meal there. After all, royalty has dined there. But everything has become more accessible now, here in our time, in the new century. Even Maxim’s.

My husband made reservations for us this evening at 8:00 p.m. I am going a little crazy with excitement. I will wear a black, elegant, almost tuxedo-like suit, with a satin blouse, and as my key accessory, I will wear my Hermes scarf.

Hah! I shouldn’t even own an Hermes scarf! Again, another gift from my loving husband who goes out of his way to make me feel like we are part of the elite class. And truly, I am wealthy. I am married to a man who is truly my partner. We share love and adventure daily. He knows me, he gets me, and he makes me laugh. I am rich!

 

 

Frankfurt: Dornbusch Farmer’s Market

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Flugente very frisch! It’s what’s for dinner tonight!

Today, regardless of the calendar, felt like autumn, Herbst in Deutsch. The clouds settled in yesterday and the dip in temperature and the crunch of dead leaves left no one in doubt of the season. I have been here for nine, almost ten months; waiting for autumn, my favorite season.

Although I have been trying to live every “American in Europe” cliche, today was the first day that I did my shopping, my main shopping on foot, in a local farmer’s market, in our neighborhood. Yes, I have shopped at the big farmer’s market in Konstablerwache, but mostly to take photos and eat waffles. Today, I was armed with a loose idea of a menu:

  1. Poultry
  2. Vegetable
  3. Fruit

I didn’t expect more than four or five rickety stands set up. I thought that there wouldn’t be many people. Ha! There were easily twice or even thrice that many vendors and not one of them in a rickety stand, well, maybe one. Instead, there were highly evolved, refrigerated cases that are part of the trucks themselves. There was fresh fish from one vendor, fresh beef and pork from another. There was a wall of rotisserie chickens roasting happily at one booth. The vegetables were a colorful palette of greens, purples, reds, and orange. Large vegetable stands, at least four of them, renewed my faith in farm-to-table. As I ambled down the center of the street, I saw another refrigerated case, a long, well stocked poultry case. In it was this beautiful bird, labeled flugente. This bird was whispering to me, “cook me”, so I asked in my preschool German, ” Sprechen Sie English? Was is das?”

He said it was “a duck, very frisch!”

“How fresh?” I asked.

“Yesterday night.”

I had hit it. The holy Grail of optimum ingredients. And this, in Dornbusch, after my incredible weekend in Paris.

So, that is how I ended up with the freshest “duck”, [personally, I think it’s a goose], for our dinner. But how to prepare it?

I asked the poultry vendor and a little woman three people down, took over. She started describing a recipe with zwiebeln to anyone who would listen. I know that “zwiebeln” means “onions” and I turned to her and she turned to me, said her English wasn’t that good, and then described how to cook this bird.

Flugente Recipe, by a friendly older woman at the Farmer’s Market

“Onions in fett til tey are soft. Bird in pan and some wasser. Cook til da string runs clear, is det right? string?” She motioned with her hands.

“Juices” I added, then nodded my head for her to continue.

“Then add some Calvados and some cream to deh pan.” She made a whisking motion with her hands.
I nodded. “Got it.” I also squeezed my eyes shut and sighed. Heaven. She continued,

“You can add some apple to the onions, not too much, but to balance. Keep it in the pan.”

Have I said it before? “I love Germany!”

I will post a photo of the end result tomorrow.

I Crack Myself Up

crack-myself-up_insult_1

You know how you crack yourself up from time to time with a totally inappropriate thought? Well, today’s that day for me. Totally inappropriate and being a Christian woman, I will never say this directly to someone, and I mean anyone. But since I have been working on writing comedy for some time now, I thought I would share today’s inappropriate toast, as it would look like in a meme.

Compliments of Yours Truly, I crack myself up, etc. copyright 2016

1Q 2016 Now that I’ve Survived the Move

I have survived the stress of moving to Germany. Stress listed below:

  1. Packing
  2. Jet lag
  3. Unpacking
  4. Technology set up and streamlined
  5. Learning my new phone number
  6. Mostly learning my new address
  7. Starting to learn a new language
  8. Finding a warm enough coat

The easiest parts:

  1. Apartment, no yard work
  2. Taking bus to language class
  3. Walking to store 2x per week
  4. Using ATM
  5. Taking U-bahn (equivalent to the El in Chicago)

I have discovered that cobblestones come in various strengths. There’s mostly smooth walkways, well-worn and not-level cobblestones, and brutal ragged jagged poorly spaced cobblestones. Good news: our American athletic shoes are in fashion over here finally! Still many folks who don’t wear them, but plenty of teens do. I like to double gel insert my shoes when traveling to the small towns–I’m just sayin’.

The food here also comes in three types: really yummy, meh, and gross. We had a perfectly great dinner at a restaurant, but had ordered the traditional cheese as a “Vorspeise”  or appetizer. It was the texture of paraffin, in a cold watery i-don’t-know-what liquid, with finely chopped white onions over the top. The waiter stood there watching us take our first bite.

The look on my face. That’s why he was watching us take our first bite. Apparently, everyone gets that look of repulsion and horror when they bite into that cheese. I couldn’t keep chewing. I couldn’t spit it out, being diplomatic and all, but I couldn’t keep it in my mouth. That’s how he, the waiter, gets amusement throughout the long winter evenings. He then admitted that he couldn’t eat it and rarely meets anyone who can.

Wine is amazing here and I am talking about the wine that you buy for three to four euros. It’s great, I’m spoiled.

The bread here is on another level from the bread we get at the grocery store in Colorado. And I’m talking about the good bakery bread from Whole Foods. This is just, well, baked fresh in front of you, hand braided, using incredible versions of wheat, rye, and every other whole grain known to man. One of my favorite rolls to buy is a pretzel braid covered in poppy seeds. I could eat one right now. And again for dinner. And again for breakfast. But breakfast, in hour apartment, is reserved for the German version of raisin bread. Roisinen Brot. It has extra yummy citron pieces in it that wake up your taste buds and it goes great with dark black coffee. It absolutely must be toasted just beyond golden brown to bring out the flavors.

Have I gained some weight you ask? Well, not much, due to the walking everywhere on cobblestones. Thank the good Lord.

Speaking of the good Lord. We have found a beautiful little church located on a lovely park, with the charm and ritual that the Church of England and the Episcopalians use for worship. More importantly, this small church has amazing music. They have a pipe organ and the choir sings beautiful classical Bach numbers– that shouldn’t be possible at this little congregation, but there they were. Our walk there is only 10 minutes, past the duck pond, over the bridge, just absolutely idyllic. Anyway, we found out why the choir is so amazing. It has several members who sing for the Frankfurt opera.

After Sunday service, we walk through the park, see the geese and the lone gosling, on our way to eating outside at a dumpy, but relaxing dining establishment. We’ve had really good food there for the past two weeks and as we pass all of the little gardening plots we see flowers and many other signs of spring. And graffiti.

The graffiti covers everything in Frankfurt. Sheds, buildings, backs of signs, walls, fences. Everything. Is. Covered. In. Graffiti.