Baden, Rinse and Repeat

•July 25, 2010 • 4 Comments

Ahhhhhhhhh.  So we’re still in Baden-Baden and I’m logging on because I was all excited and sure my blog hits would have risen beyond my wildest expectations after I inadvertantly tagged my last post “naked”. I fixed it, but imagine their disappointment when they get this blog instead of…god knows what…

The great news is that we’re moving here to live out our days – anyone want our children?  Baden-Baden is the pinnacle of relaxation.  The essence of quaint.  The definition of a honeymoon hot-spot.  We are thinking of staging a sit-in at this little hotel until the Air Force and Politzei come and drag us out of here.   The hotel, Hotel Am-Markt, is smack in the middle of the action (Baden-Baden is perhaps the cutest and most botanical-tastic town in Germany – half timbered houses and uber-speciality stores rule here) and a bargain at under 80 euro per night – thank you Germany book!  We haven’t been in the car since we parked it upon checking in.  The staff supplied us with the breakfast serving times (included) and a key that fits the room and the front door.  The staff leaves at 6, so please let yourself in after hours.  The room is in a building that was built in the early 1700’s and outside of my window almost within touching distance is the town church and its tall landmark steeple that we can see from anywhere in Baden-Baden, and every 15 mintues we hear the beautiful chimes (except for 10pm – 6 am, thank you) and right now as I’m typing this I’m listening to organ music from the Sunday evening service…AND SPEAKING OF ORGANS…

We got ALL KINDS of naked in the spa today.    We did the OLD baths – Friedrichsbad.  For 29 Euro plus 8 for child care Paul and I bought ourselves a 3.5 hour experience we’ll never forget.  You can find all kinds of accounts of what it’s like to do this “wellness treatment” (not to be confused with a fun time, by any means – this is serious wellness we’re talking about) on the internets – (HERE being a particularly well written and funny one) so I won’t describe it in great detail.  Basically, you start in room 1 where you disrobe completely, you donn a bracelet with a chip that keeps track of your time and extra treatments that you did or didn’t pay for,  and then you proceed through 16 more rooms, showers, baths, saunas, and an especially interesting scrub brush massage soaping treatment (BAD TOUCHING!  BAD TOUCHING!).  The last time you see a towel or a shoe or anything other than skin is in room 2 or 3.  Beyond that is all naked, all the time.  But believe me, by the time room 2 or 3 comes along, you’re already used to it. 

You sit naked, lay down naked, drink from drinking fountains naked (NO ONE, I repeat – no one looks good doing that), shower, soak, get in and out of shallow pools (see: naked crouching), nap, read with (!) and converse with other nakeds. 

All in all, it was fabulous and suprising – refreshing and relaxing and well worth it.  Paul was a gem of a husband because I’m really the one that wanted to do this.  He was reluctant but willing – he cracked me up throughout the whole experience (they float!  they actually float!).  The most interesting part of the treatment is that we happened to go on one of several days each week where men and women share the facilities – there are two actual spas, each with separate rooms up until you get to pool 11 which is co-ed, then you separate again until room 17.  Sundays it’s all mixed – men and women can go in all facilities together – even the locker rooms.  Oh what fun!  As if I wasn’t bent out of shape enough at the thought of other gals checking out my, well…me-ness.  Now we add men in too? 

Imagine…Paul and I went through the initial showering-off before Room 1 together and without other nakeds.   We timidly entered into Room 2, a sauna, with chaise lounge chairs in close proximity to each other lining the entire perimeter of the room.  HUZZAH!  No one in there.  Paul and I picked our loungers and relaxed and felt the stress slipping away – ha!  we had it down – no problemo.  After the required 10 minutes, we moved to room 3 – an even hotter sauna room – and YES!  Completely empty too.  This was a tiny room and there were only maybe 7 lounge chairs, all facing the door.  We took our two next to each other and relaxed.  Then, right at the leaving time,  in came about 4 men, young Germans, all buddies.  The first thing they had to see upon entering the room was our hoo-hahs facing them.  I was a lone naked lady amongst a ROOM FULL (a tiny room, mind you) of naked men.  And worse yet, it was time to leave so I had to sit up (NOT A GOOD ANGLE) and walk out in front of all of them,  just as they were getting settled.  Not one of them had their eyes closed.   That was probably the worst moment for me.  

Honestly you get used to it.  By the end, after we had lounged in Room 17 – the reading room – naked for a half  hour reading old magazines in French, the idea of putting our clothing back on was unappealing.  How constricting, we thought!  How unhealthy – all those clothes.  I would do this again in a heartbeat – the waters were wonderful – mineral-rich and warm.  The spa was impeccable – clean and amazingly professional.  We were rejuvenated – we both LOVED it.

Final words about the nude:  In summary, going naked is like going dancing.  People only watch the good ones, really, the others are just  background noise – environment.  No matter how you feel about your body (and believe me – this was NOT a good time in my ever-frustrating fight against cellulite) be assured there are always better bodies than yours, and there are always worse.   Way worse.  And we were all represented there today – after awhile it was just skin – loose skin and tight skin, young and old skin, jiggly and non-jiggly skin.

I’ll post photos and such (No! Not that!) when we get back into Mackenbach – should we decide to return.

Naked Monkey Mountain

•July 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Well, it’s been one weekend at home and the wanderlust has hit again so tomorrow morning we’re loading up the Old Bessie and motoring on over to  Baden-Baden (German for bathe…bathe).  It’s about a three hour trip – going west and south and stopping right before we hit France.  Baden-Baden is near the Black Forest, or IN the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) – I have no idea.  In the vicinity of I suppose…in a corner perhaps.   It’s also near our beloved Rhine River – there is a ferry that crosses these holy blood-of-the-riesling waters and deposits you in a quaint little Frenchie village across the border where there is, no doubt, all things shopping.

The area is supplied with its healing waters from sodium-chloride rich Artesian springs that bubble up from 5000 plus feet underground.  The Romans used to come to soak in the waters of Baden (in those times, they hadn’t added the other Baden) in the 3rd century.  Clinton was so taken by the town he was quoted as saying “It’s so nice, they named it twice”.  That’s so Clinton.

I remember seeing a travel piece on this area before we moved to Germany that intrigued me – it looks fantastic…  Spa-tastic actually -the whole area is essentially a giant spa.  The baths are still there and they are very “Roman” in that there are a bunch of different pools in which to soak.  You enter the bath house, disrobe and move from pool to pool to massage room to pool to mud room to pool to…pool.  Some pools are hot, some pools are warm, some are icey.  It’s the process – ancient and methodical and altogether meditative.  And supposedly they have child care (!).  So I really wouldn’t mind partaking in this experience of Baden-Baden.  Except for one thing…

Let’s back up for a minute to the word “disrobe”.  These are spas…well…I….they say…you have to….OK.  In this case, disrobe most certainly means “naked”.  The travel show guy that I was watching was indeed all nakedy, his Glory hidden by bubbles or something urging us to “DO THIS.  don’t give your nakedness a second thought – it’s not worth fretting about – enjoy the experience”.  However, all I focused on was how naked he was.  I always give my nakedness second and even a third thoughts – AS A RULE.  Yet, I also have a rule never to pass on a spa treatment.  My rules are colliding, but I’m thinking seriously about doing the thing.

Also on the agenda:  Monkey Mountain, for which one CERTAINLY doesn’t want to be naked.  Where there’s monkeys, there’s always potential trouble and I don’t want to be asking for it – they’re monkeys…”no” doesn’t even come close to meaning “no” in monkeyville.  Anyway, it is a hill or something where there is (yes) a flock, or tribe, or whatever monkey groups are called – living there.  They come right over to you and poke you or screech or hop on you or something.  I don’t really see what all the rage is, but the kids + monkeys = omg!!! So we’re going. 

We’re also going on a Black Forest drive which is 50 miles and takes about a day.  To say it’s windy (as in to WIND a watch) is putting it mildly.

This puts us back here on Monday night!  Will report.

My Dog Ate My Internet

•July 22, 2010 • 1 Comment

Yeah, well I said I’d TRY to post everyday.  Honestly – every day posting is tiring. Starts to make you feel like you are very important or something when you have to post every single day about something in your life.  As you write about things, eventually you run out of big things and then, next thing you know you’re writing about cleaning the bathroom sink.  And if you’re writing about cleaning the bathroom sink, you have to realize that it’s only interesting…well not even to yourself, but certainly not to others.  The people that have a problem are the ones who think their bathroom sink cleaning adventures are FASCINATING and that the blog community is eating it up and wanting MORE MORE MORE.  That’s why bloggers get a bad rap I suppose.

So what’s new…let’s see – went on my first horsey ride since before Christmas the other evening and it was tremendously fun.  I almost forgot, at one point, how I would shatter into a million fragments should I fall from the beast I was having so much fun – and believe me – I never usually forget about that eve for a second.

I was comforted first by my shot of vodka, my bravery shot, before boarding the horse.   I always do that because of my nerves – what?!  I can quit anytime!   I ride better!  …and second by the weather – it was 90 degrees and I knew M, the horse owner, wouldn’t be pulling any tricks out on me like galloping or anything – the horses would probably fall over.  It was all nice and slow and civilized out there on the trail.  But we did trot.  We trotted the hell out of those horses – for miles and miles.  Bump, bump, bump.  We rode for over two hours.  No problems…

There was one incident with some forest deer that I don’t want to relive, but there’s always SOMETHING out there that freaks a horse out – they’re huge, but gosh they have way overdeveloped startle reflexes, don’t they?  And when they startle, they don’t just snort or look alarmed, no.  It’s full on FIGHT or FLIGHT (clue:  horses never pick FIGHT).

So there was that.  And…hmmm…

Tonight was interesting.  We took the kids over to have a barbeque at S’s house – S actually made some home made playdough, let’s be clear – her idea, AND she invited another couple who have three more children.  So…there were five children, about a gallon of dough, and she presented them all with a very small table to work on… over carpet.  You do the math.  I’ll bet she’s still on the floor trying to scrape bits of dough from the carpet fibers, cursing our names in German.

…so then I usually use the scouring pad at this point and so I sprinkle some Bon Ami in the sink and scour GENTLY in small circles…

So off to pack – we’re leaving early Saturday morn to drive to that Black Forest thing we keep hearing about.

To Market…

•July 20, 2010 • 1 Comment

I get my jollies taking pictures at these cool open produce markets.  I just love how fresh everything is and how the vendors take such care to line things up “just so”.  I always happen on something new too, like these:

What ARE these?! They're the size of purple grapes, but they taste like kiwi - sour around the skin. Tiny soft seeds, and sweet in the center. Very yummy.

Here are some other pictures of beautiful market things…

Looks almost metallic. These huge blackberries are hidden back in the fridge, where the kids can't get to them...shhh!

The eggs are always sold fresh, at outside temperatures, and loose. They hard boil some and color them just because...people like them that way. How whimsical!

kalamatas from my favorite Greek/Italian vendor - olives, artichokes fetas and grain salads as far as the eye can see.

Have you ever had a fantastic fresh apricot? Probably not because it's extremely rare to find them sweet and juicy. I'd never had a good, fresh apricot...until today. Wow. Just wow.

Market days are Tuesdays and Saturdays here in my town.  I treasure it, and go as often as I can.

Displaced

•July 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Happened upon this scene as I came through the main hall, downstairs. 

The Dog: "And what, pray tell, do you propose I do about THIS whole scenario? If ever a biting was in order..."

gurgle

•July 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I was going to write something about the dog tonight, I think.  I don’t really know at this point because I allowed myself to a) have a couple of drinks and b) go on the merry-go-round; not the ones at the amusement park with the horses, but the ones at the playground – the same ones that were at the drive-ins when you were little.  Those.  We were hanging out with our fellow Mackenbachians – the ones that live across the way?  Yeah, them.  And they have a few kids, and we have a couple, and two of our mutual children go to the German Kindergarten here in the village.  We’ve bonded as families.  Until tonight, when I took a dare to “hop on” the merry-go-round with Mr. Mackenbachian.  I thought I could handle it.  I thought I was cool.  I hopped on and said, “BRING IT”!

I’m sure it might have looked grotesque to a casual observer watching me on that thing, what happened to me as that Devil Wheel spun faster and faster.  I had no bar behind me (I chose the wrong seat) – my middle was unsupported and unexercised which, in any circumstance, is not attractive and in this circumstance, waaaaay so.  When we got past a certain velocity (omg), something in my body just quit trying to hold itself together.  My head slowly flopped back by the force – my neck couldn’t stand it, and my back quit at the same time so I was sitting, spinning fast and doing an uncontrolled  back bend over the rail of the merry-go-round essentially.  As my hat flew off I only remember saying “Stop – I’m serious” as a single tear flew from my eye and splattered on a tree 50 yards away.   

We stopped pretty quick.  I think he realized there was trouble afoot and it wasn’t just a silly prank. The children who had witnessed the whole thing with gaping jaws stopped playing and ran to retrieve my hat and help me down.  I felt their concern.  I also felt a little pain in my back as I came off the whirly death round, but really no dizzyness.  I walked over and told Paul of the tale and he rolled his eyes and patted me on the shoulder as is the normal duty of the Husband of the Frail.  It was only about 15 minutes afterwards that my belly started to come to terms with what I’d done.  And they were not good terms. 

Am I really at an age where a ride on a whirlygig can be almost fatal?  Why should I have to “take a lie down” when all I did was go around on a stationary wheel a few times?  Life is cruel.

Ich verstehe

•July 16, 2010 • 5 Comments

It feels like full circle stuff lately is all around – dejavu moments are frequent.  Last year, we had signed on this house, but were still in lodging at our lovely hotel, but everything looks like it did – it’s hot now like it was, this festival is this coming weekend, and this flower field is in full bloom again with the same flowers as last year…

…and so on.

Everything is the same and gosh – time FLEW – where did this year go? …except last night something a tiny bit amazing happened: 

{dream sequence}

S and I and Griffin were taking a walk back on the trails behind the house, and as we were coming back on the main road, we approached the local realtor who lives farther down our street – he was taking a walk with his dog and coming up the road toward us.  Simone and him, townies, started up the small talk about her new house that is being built directly across the street from us, and the weather and whatever, and then realtor turned to Griffin and talked a little German to him – “so you go to the German Kindergarten, true”? and Griffin shook his head yes.  “How old are you?”  Griffin said, “four”.  He asked if Luanne, his grand daughter, was in Griffin’s group at the Kindergarten.  Griffin said “yes”. 

Then Simone and him started chatting again on how great it is that Griffin is learning some German and that he goes to the school in town. Simone informed him of my German lessons and remarked that I speak a little, but am afraid to speak a lot because I’ll make mistakes and get embarrassed.  She turned to me, as she does, and began to recap what had all gone down.

 Before she could say much of anything, I brushed it off and said, “No you don’t need to.  I got it – I understood”. 

Both their eyebrows shot up.  It was a good moment. 

That’s where the year’s gone, I suppose.

But I don’t understand Ma’am…it’s still noodles!

•July 15, 2010 • 4 Comments

I TOTALLY forgot to tell you about this incident that happened on our trip to Heidelberg last weekend.  Well that’s the beauty of blogging every day – it’s never to late for a follow-up story.  You’re lucky you’re getting anything even halfway coherent at this point – sheesh – 15 consecutive days of posts make me feel,well, chatty for one, and also like I’m on a really one-sided date where I have to do ALL the talking because you’re just playing with your fork all disinterested, and things start coming out all random and desperate and increasingly more boring because I REALLY LIKE YOU AND JUST PLEASE ASK ME OUT AGAIN… 

But you’re  not going to, are you?

So we’re in Heidelberg at that cute little eatery where I got the caipirihnas and we had dinner – very cool menu.  Very exciting stuff.  I ordered the shrimp and tagliatelle with lime oil and chilis.  Paul got some chicken something with risotto. 

So the waitress comes out with our dinners and gives Paul his plate and she turns to me looking slightly guilty and she says, “There was a little problem in the kitchen – the chef didn’t make you what you ordered.  He made you a different dish.  This one is fettucini with forest mushrooms and creme fraiche.  He wants to know if you’ll eat it instead, otherwise it will take a very long time to get you what you ordered (and it will most likely be laden with some version of the chef’s biology as well, ma’am, I’m just saying)“.

And the weird part is that I did eat it and I didn’t even mind all that much.  And the even weirder part is that we paid full price for it too, though I believe it was a Euro cheaper than what I had originally ordered.  I couldn’t help pondering though, after it all happened, that if we were eating anywhere in America, it couldn’t have gone down that way – Americans would never let that fly and the ONLY reason they’d eat the other dish is because they’d probably get pampered the rest of the time and get free stuff; “you screwed up, now what am I gonna get out of it”.

Am I just a chump, or was that ok of them to do that?  Because if it is ok, when I open my restaurant someday, I’m totally going to do this to everyone just because I can:

To the lady that ordered the fish?…TACOS!  To the gentleman that wanted the soup?…here are your PORK CHOPS – Voila!  ENJOY!  And I will do a little spin and walk importantly back to my kitchen.

Happy Hour

•July 14, 2010 • 2 Comments

Like limeade, but with more crying and fights.

 

Admit it – if you see one more gin and tonic this summer, you’ll…well you’ll drink it, of course, but come on – let’s get out of the rut.  A rut is never good, even when it’s filled with gin and tonic.

These are very popular here – the Caipirinha (say:  ky-peer-REEN-ya). Did you know it is the national drink of Brazil? I had never heard of one until S brought over a picnic basket one night with all the fixins.  I don’t remember much after that.  Now I see them everywhere on menus and chalkboard special boards and I take full advantage because I don’t know how easy the Cachaca will be to find in the USA.  It’s sugar cane schnapps, and by schnapps I mean German Schnapps and by that I mean moonshine, or hooch.  Strong, it is (says Yoda).

I’ll find it if it’s out there, no worries, but it’s everywhere here so I’m drinking up and it’s GREAT in this heat.  Should I start THAT again?  No, I shant.  I’m spinning it positive, yo.  I’m adopting a new motto:  When life gives you heat and some limes, sugar and booze, well just make these:.

Caipirinha

1/2 lime, in wedges

2 tsp. granulated (or bar) sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)

Crushed Ice (disappointed ice is just fine)

2 oz. Pitù Cachaça

A liver

—————-

muddle sugar and lime wedges in bottom of glass until all juices are out and sugar is partially disolved in them.  Add ice and Pitù.  Drink it from a straw so you’re drinking from the bottom.  From a STRAW, I’m telling you!  do it.

Funky Puky

•July 13, 2010 • 3 Comments

Some things they have here in the Germany I have to say…are strange, but a LOT of things they have here are so brilliant, I’m not clear why they are not everywhere in the world.  Take the Puky Bike, for instance.

The Puky is the brand name of the bike most German kids start out riding, after the foot propelled “Bobby Car”, of course.  They make them in size really, really tiny (age 2 or so) and just tiny (ages 3-4ish).  Griffin has a tiny one.  These Puky bikes make training wheels look like a huge mistake.  Really, what is bike riding?  95% feel and confidence, and 5% mechanics, I think.  The Puky takes out the mechanics (pedals) and gives the child everything else – the ability to lean into turns, the balance, the HAND BRAKES, just the all-around feel of riding.  Pop the pedals on (you can convert some and add pedals, or just upgrade to a normal bike) and voila. 

If further proof is needed, Cameron was close to seven before he a) wanted to ride a bike without training wheels and b) was brave enough to just let go enough to try.  Granted, he’s a different and more cautious child than Crazypants here, but still – Griffin has been riding like this since before he was four.  He’s now 4.5 and look:

Don’t mind the chatter – it’s us and S outside on this lovely summer night.
Isn’t it brilliant?