Friday, December 28, 2007

a long over-due post

For ease of story-telling, I've decided to sub-divide my post into different sections. To pick up where I left off in my last post, I'll start with the Christmas party.

The NSWU2 Christmas Party
The Peguy and Neil Part of the Story

Sarah had been planning to go with us right on along. The first time that I mentioned it, she's like, ooh, can I come too? I love Christmas parties! And a Christmas party with a bunch of SEALs? Even better." So, Bran got a ticket for her when he bought ours. For whatever reason, though, it didn't occur to me to invite Peguy and Neil. It should have, but it didn't. So, the day of the party rolls around, and Sarah, Peguy and I all made appointments to get our nails done at the same time. Girl time, you know? Well, it came out in the course of the conversation that Sarah was going to the party with us, and of course...

"Oh! That sounds like fun! I want to go!"

And I'm thinking, oh crap. I don't want to tell her that they can't go, but it's was an RSVP thing and they didn't have tickets. Oh well, it's not like they would turn them away at the door, right? It'll be fine. So I say,

"Sure! you guys can come! It'll be fun!"

While I'm thinking, Oh crap, Brandon's going to kill me.

So I go home, and head upstairs to find Brandon. He was sitting at the TV, playing Mass Effect on the 360, but he paused it when I walked in.

"Hey, baby, uhm, funny story," I say, sitting on his lap. I put my arms around his neck and look into his eyes beseechingly.

"Why do I get the feeling that I'm not going to find this story funny at all?"

I had the grace to look sheepish as I told the story, and he finished it for me before I got even half way through it. Personally, I wanted to go with the 'it's better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission' angle, but Brandon wouldn't hear of it. So he spent the next I-have-no-idea-how-long calling everyone that he could think of to make sure that it was ok for them to go, while I went downstairs to paint my nails.

He walked in while I was on my second coat, and said "You have to call and tell them that they can't go."

But I couldn't do that, and I told him so. Peguy was so excited! How could I tell her that she couldn't go? How?

So he says ok, and pulls out his phone and disappears again. Five minutes later, he comes back and says, "It's cool baby, I fixed it." And just like that, the problem of my own making disappeared.

The "Adrienne's Wardrobe" Part of the Story

Ok, back to the nail salon. I'd made my appointment to get my nails done a full week before the party, but I guess one of their techs was sick, so they were short handed. You'd think that they would have called to let me know, but noooo. I knew that they wouldn't have time to get to me before I had to be next door to get my hair done (I'd made an appointment for that too) so I decided to make a new appointment with the nail salon for after getting my hair done.

It took an hour and 45 minutes for her to do my hair... It's getting to be rather long, and I had her curl it all and pile it on the back of my head. It looked great! She even stuck little pearls in it. It was well worth the time, and the money I spent on it. (Pictures coming later.) But, back at the nail salon, they still weren't ready for me. Even though I'd moved my appointment with the from 1:30 to 4:00, but they had been taking walk-ins. So I said, screw you and your poor management, I'm out of here. Grr....

But it's ok, because I had a good time even if my nails looked like crap because I had to do them myself, and I didn't really have time to let them dry all the way and they got fuxed up. And, I had a good time even if the dress that I'd intended to wear was too small, and I had to substitute my red dress that I wore to Alanna's wedding. Not that there's anything wrong with that's gorgeous, but the neck line does plunge scandalously, and it isn't full length. It was very well suited to an autumn wedding in Florida, but not so great for a December party in Germany. Have I mentioned that it's cold here? It worked, though, and I looked good, even if I do say so myself. :)

The "Brandon's Wardrobe" Part of the Story

I'd been eagerly looking forward to this party for weeks, but as I;'m sure you all know, Brandon is: a) not all that fond of getting all dressed up, and, b) very fond of procrastinating. So we ended up looking at suits at the Exchange a mere two days before the party. We found a great black-on-black pinstripe suit that was on sale, but it definitely needed to be altered. Brandon has such wide shoulders, and such a narrow waist, that any suit jacket that fit him across the shoulders was way too big around the chest and stomach. But, when the old man came over to help us, we learned that it would takle at least a week to get the suit back from the tailors. So, no black-on-black pinstripe.

After chiding us for waiting until the last minute, he helped us to find a jacket and a pair of pants that fit him reasonably well from among the selection of separates. After that, it was only a matter of finding a shirt and tie. But again, in order to find a shirt that was larger enough around the neck and through the shoulders, we had to get one that was huge around the middle. So, $300 later, Brandon had a suit that didn't quite fit, and a tailor's ticket to have it done after the party.

And finally, The Christmas Party Part of the Story

It wasn't hard at all to find the hotel hosting the party. There was champagne and socializing before we sat down to dinner, and we took the opportunity to take some pictures. (Again, I will be posting these later.) For dinner, we ended up at the table front and center, in front of the podium, which was great for picture-taking purposes. Especially, since Brandon ended up being one of those selected to do the toast. The tradition is that the youngest and the oldest at the party each come up to give a toast, and not surprisingly, Brandon was the youngest. (The oldest was a visiting admiral that was there as a guest of the Unit.) i was disappointed, though, because the admiral led with a very simple toast, so Brandon could only follow suit with an equally simple toast: "Here's to the Navy." BOO! I know how eloquent he can be, and I felt cheated that he didn't get to give a real toast. But seriously, how could he show up the admiral? He couldn't.

Dinner was good; they served a Mediterranean buffet. We all ate our fill, and either sat or wandered to socialize. I met some of the other wives, which was cool, but none of them are in my age group. They're all very nice women, but I can't see that I'll have much in common with them, except that we have husbands at the Unit. The best part of the evening, was, without a doubt, the "Boblingen Idol" contest. It was funny as hell, though it would have been nice if more people had participated. And if more of the participants had taken it seriously. But what should I expect, from a bunch of sailors? They hammed it up, and it was quite entertaining. The only two who took it seriously were the women, and they were both awesome. Needless to say, it was one of the women who won.

We didn't stay late, only 'till about midnight. It was, as always, nice to get home and get comfy.

And, that will have to be it for now. You'll just have to wait until next time for tales of my snowboarding misadventure. :) TTFN!

Friday, December 7, 2007

a little bit like home

Aside from the fact that it's about 50° out there, today's weather reminded me a lot of Florida. The morning was overcast, and it started pouring just before noon. Then, all of a sudden, it went from raining like crazy to...nothing. Five minutes later even the clouds were gone, leaving only the puddles to indicate that it had rained. Now, in Florida, there would have been steam rising from the wet ground, but I'll take what I can get. And man oh man, does that sunshine look good!

Anyway, I have quite a bit to catch up on, starting with last Saturday (12-1). Bran came home on Wednesday and told me that one of the guys from the unit, Eli, was throwing a party Saturday, starting around 1 and going until the last one was ready to quit. Awesome! Except...I had already made plans with the girls to watch the second half of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. So, we were faced with a conundrum. What to do? How to make it work, with the two of us needing to go two different places at the same time, but with only one car. Brandon provided the solution: we go together to Eli's party, then I just leave when I need to, to get to my thing. When that's over, i rejoin party number one, and we stay until we're ready to go home.

It worked out really well, actually, except that I was actually in the mood to drink but I was obviously the DD so I couldn't (for the second night in a row, I might add) and the rare opportunity passed without use. Oh well. I did have a really great time. I got to meet some of the other unit 2 wives, which was cool, though most of them were enough older that it was hard to fund much in common with them (beyond the obvious military connection). One though, Eli's wife, Brandy, can't be more than a few years older than me. Nothing much happened at this point, because it was only an hour or two before I had to leave for Peguy's. There were two things of note: Eli's kick-ass brisket, and Brandy's kitten. The first was delicious. The second was adorable.

I was the first to arrive at Peguy's, aside from Sarah, who was staying there for the weekend. We were joined by Maria and Leah, two of their friends from EUCOMM, and then we had all the frozen pizza, banana fondue, and Colin Firth-as-MR.-Darcy that we could handle. It might sound like an odd combination, but it was AWESOME!!! The BBC version really is better than the Kiera Knightly version. That one is ok, particularly for those who are not Jane Austen fans and are satisfied with just the basics. But this one covers every aspect of the book, is perfectly cast, and overall just very well done.

We were having a great time, but I wasn't sure when the other party was going to wind down, and I didn't want Bran to be stuck there alone, feeling awkward after everyone else had left, so I took my leave (to many protests) and headed back to Eli's. The party was still in full swing. I ended up sitting on the kitchen counters with Brandy, discussing all manner of things, but mostly we ended up talking about religion. It was an interesting discussion, and one that I enjoyed thoroughly. It was punctuated by visits from Gill, who was floating from little group to little group, trying to find one that was talking about something a little more down to earth (apparently, the group outside was talking about quantum physics), but I think it was probably kind of like scrolling though the radio stations and finding nothing but commercials. You know when that happens? You can't reach your CD's and there's nothing on so you just keep scanning through the same stations until you find one playing something you like? Yeah, I'm sure it was like that.

We ended up staying there until about 11. For those of you who know me well, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Knowing Adrienne, she probably got tired and wanted to go home and get to bed. She is, after all, a morning person and not a night owl." But, if that is indeed what you were thinking, then you would be wrong. I was having a great time, and not even thinking about heading home, when I wandered out into the dining room and found Bran sitting at the table with his head down. Apparently, he had been drinking non-stop since we'd gotten there that afternoon, and was definitely feeling it. I guess even juggernauts have their limits. So it was amid jeering taunts questioning his masculinity, to which I readily contributed, that I gathered him up and herded him toward the car.

Apparently, joining the guys in teasing him was exactly the right thing for me to do. When I told Sarah about the whole thing, she told me that it was a good thing that I hadn't tried to defend him. In the course of her job, she's spent a lot of time around military guys, and more specifically SEALs. She said that had I told them to back off, that they would have just ribbed him all the harder at work the next week. Which made me feel better, because I had been feeling a little guilty.

So....that was Saturday.

Monday I went to Stuttgart with Sarah to help her get moved in to her apartment. That is definitely a story in itself, but I really don't want to be here all night, so we'll just say that it was a comedy of errors and leave it at that.

Tuesday I stayed home, and did a whole lot of nothing. By which I mean, I spent my day alternating between working on the cross-stitch, and playing the 360 RPG that Bran recently bought for himself. Not that he has a problem with me playing, he just didn't expect me to like the game. But I love it! And Bran has found himself competing with me for game time.

Wednesday, I'd intended to go to the gym, hit up the USO and get some shopping done, but when we got to the gate on base so that I could drop Bran off at work, I discovered that I didn't have my wallet. Turns out, I'd left it in Sarah's Xterra on Monday. So, I went home and did nothing (see above definition of 'nothing') until time to go back for Brandon.

Yesterday, I just stayed home since I was without my ID and such. But Bran got off early, so we headed back to Panzer to get him a suit for tomorrow, then over to Patch to get a Christmas tree. Hopefully, we'll be decorating the tree tonight. :)

The Christmas party is tomorrow night...Yay! I'm super excited about it. I'm even going in to get my hair and nails done...I didn't even go to get my hair professionally done when I got married! But, this is my first formal party in Europe, so i want to do it right. I will definitely be taking pictures, and I won't waste any time putting them up. I still have more from before to post....

And finally, speaking of posting: we will have phone and internet AT HOME as of December 17. Unless something goes wrong, which is always possible. But, keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

still snowing

No, not snowing again, but still snowing. It never stopped! Before I could leave the house this morning, I had to scrape a good 2 inches worth of snow off of the car... It's kind of crazy: I was looking at the pictures that I took when I first got over here, and everything looks so green. But, when I first got over here, I was thinking that everything looked red and yellow. It's amazing the change in perspective. At first, I was comparing everything to how green it is in Florida. Now, that everything is brown and white, I'm comparing it to what it looked like when I first arrived. And I'm still enjoying the change, even if I did nearly lose my fingers to hypothermia in the process of clearing the car this morning. :)

After posting yesterday, I realized what a pathetic little post it was and decided that I needed to correct the oversight as soon as possible. So, consider the following what I should have included in yesterday's post:

It was nice to have Bran home for the weekend. When I picked him up from the unit on Friday afternoon, I had actually been on my way to the commissary to stock up. But, he got back before I expected him to and that meant that he got stuck going with me to the store. I offered to take him back to the house, because he definitely didn't want to go, but he told me to just go to the store. I told him that I really didn't mind, that I could take him home and go back, but he was like, "It's not just that I want to go home. I don't want to go to the store, but I don't want to go home either if you're not going to be there." (I'm not sure that I got that verbatim, but you get the idea.) He was being rather surly, and kind of sulky, but how could I be frustrated with him when he was sulking that he couldn't be home and be with me at the same time? And he would rather go to the store with me than be home by himself? So cute. :) I just hope that I never have to leave town without him.

Saturday afternoon, I decided to tackle trying to make some apple pies. I'd promised one to Herr Dreher anyway, for taking down the wall paper in the master bedroom, and I just thought it would be fun. I made the whole thing from scratch, which was...interesting. I didn't have a pastry cutter, so I had to use a potato masher to blend the flour and the shortening. and I didn't have a rolling pin, so I had to use the salt container to roll out the dough for the crust. It worked rather well, actually, but by the time I was done the container was ruined (it was only card board) and I had to transfer the salt into a Tupperware container. And what do you know, but the crust came out perfect! Not like a patchwork quilt, like my first crust, but whole and beautiful and even! I was so excited... When I got the crusts prepped, I started on the apples, but there were so many of them! Bran ended up coming downstairs to peel them for me, while I sliced them. I'm so glad that he did...I would have been there all night otherwise. After that, the rest was easy. I just had to mix the apples with the sugar and stuff, roll out the top crusts, and top them. I have to tell you, I am quite pleased with the results. The first one went to the Drehers, but Bran got into the second one before it was anywhere near to being cool, and proclaimed it to be a total success. I even really liked it, and I'm not a huge fan of apple pie. So maybe I'm bragging here, but I'm proud of myself. :)

Sunday, Sarah came over and we made devil dogs, which are oh-so-sinfully good. :) She made the cream filling while I did the cookie/cake batter, and it worked out perfectly. And, right as we were finishing up with the cookies, it was time to start the Mexican pizza for dinner. Yum! Of course, by the time that the pizza was done, I was pretty much full from the devil dogs, but that's ok. One of Bran's friends from the unit came over too, which was cool. It was the first time that Bran had had a friend over to the house, so I thought it was a good thing. Christian Gill, or just Gill, is one of the guys that went to Vilseck with him, and I guess they bonded. When Gill showed up, he had a house warming present for us, or more specifically, for Brandon. The guy got us a huge flippin' bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label scotch whiskey! According to Bran, that's a $120 bottle of scotch. The silly thing came nestled in a bed of silk, along with an official bottle number and a booklet, for crying out loud. I don't know what happened in Vilseck, but they must have really bonded. Anyway, expensive liquors aside, dinner was awesome. The company was great, the food was great, everything was great.

Monday we didn't do much of anything. Bran and I went to the gym, but on the way there, the called and told him that he'd be leaving again this week, so when we got back to the house I got started on laundry. Fun, fun. Since he left, I've been mostly working on my arts'n'crafts projects. Not just the ctoss-stitch, but I've started crocheting a large throw for Sarah. Apparently, she's always wanted a handmade blanket, so she's commissioned me to make one for her. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy crocheting. :)

And...yup, that's about it. Now I feel that I've redeemed my sorry excuse for a post, from yesterday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

hot diggity-dog, it's cold

It's snowing again. :) It's been snowing off and on for days now, but todays it's more than just a few flurries. I've been watching it pile up outside, and it's pretty cool. (no pun intended.) It's still novel, but I have to say that I'm not liking the slush on the sidewalks.

It seems like I'm living here at the USO. Bran is gone again, this time up north doing some SEALs support something or other. So, once again, I'm at the house by myself for the week. On the bright side, though, I did discover that there is an awesome "multi-crafts center" on Patch with an equally awesome selection of crafting supplies, for everything from quilting to cross stitch to scrap booking, and everything in between. Yay! And, they're hiring. I just have to print out the application, and drop it off at the MWR hq on Kelly (another of the many bases around here). This would definitely be more fun than working at the bank...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

it's hard to believe...

...that my neice, Veronica, is a little over 4 months old.

...that I have been in Germany for more than a month.

...that Christmas is less than 2 months away.

*sigh* time just flies, doesn't it? But I am having an awesome time here, and I'm incredibly busy, so I suppose that it makes sense. I was talking to mom about it last night, actually. I've been doing so many new things, and meeting so many new people, that it's been kind of a non-stop roller coaster ride for me. It's been amazing, I just wish that I had everyone from home, or at least someone else from home, here to share it with me.

Not that Brandon doesn't count. He does. But he's currently in Vilseck learning how to deal with hazardous materials, so I've been doing the solo thing for a week or two now. It hasn't been bad, though. Sarah and Peguy have been keeping me company, I've interacted with the landlords (who are awesome, btw) almost everyday, and Bran got to come home over the weekend.

It's amazing how quickly a place can become home. We've only lived there for about a week, and it already feels like home. I've been working my arse off, though, to make it that way. I've unpacked most of the boxes, and I've gotten the entire downstairs pretty much settled. I've painted our bedroom, my craft room, and I'm almost through painting the Mannex (Bran's computer room, which he's dubbed "the Man Annex", or simply, "the Mannex). When I get that done, then I'll move on to getting all of my craft supplied organized in the craft room, and try to bring some sort of order to the Mannex. Currently, both are a mess of half-filled boxes, but the Mannex also contains a confused jumble of wiring, tools, computer hardware, and other such...stuff. So.

But all the work has been worth it, because the house looks great and feels like home. Han has certainly settled right in. He's already begun his campaign to spread cat litter throughout the whole of the house, and if I didn't sweep every other day, he would have by now succeeded. All of the flooring is either hard wood or tile, and he's discovered that not only do his toys go farther over the smooth surface than they did over the carpet, but he slides easily over it as well. It's quite entertaining to watch him zooming around the living room,chasing after little felt mice and trying to make sure that his hind quarters don't slide out from under him when he tries to turn. (Incidentally, he doesn't often succeed in that last one.) He's definitely another of the elements that makes the great big apartment feel like home.

It's looking like I'm going to get a job at one of the banks on base. Not the base where Bran works, unfortunately, but that's ok. They're less then 10 minutes apart, so who can complain? It's not a done deal, by any stretch of the imagination, but they definitely need people, the supervisor seemed very pleased to receive my application, and something tells me that I am fully qualified for the position of bank teller. It's what I want, because even though it doesn't use my degree at all, the hours are good (part time banking hours) and the pay is decent ($10.50 p/h, starting). So, keep your fingers crossed for me!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

moving day

Tonight is our last night at the hotel. We'll be leaving early in the morning to meet the movers at our new place, and working to get settled in there. I'm not exactly sure how the weekend will go... I need to get to the laundromat either tomorrow or Saturday to make sure that Bran has clean clothes to take with him for school, I need to supervise the movers to make sure that everything goes where I want it to go, we want to get a computer desk, I need to get to Obi to buy paint for the first room I want to tackle (still not sure which one that will be), and I want to get at least one room done this weekend. Oh, and I have to drop Bran off on base at like 8 in the morning on Sunday.

Actually, I don't think I've mentioned anything about this school that Bran is going to... It's a 2 week course on HazMat (hazardous materials) procedures. I can't for the life of me remember the name of the city that he's going to, but I know it's about 4 hours away, out towards Munich. He's going with 4 other guys from the unit, and they're headed out on Sunday, to be there when the class starts Monday morning. Which means that I'll be on my own for the next 2 weeks... I'll have the car, which is good, and I'm planning to get a lot done in his absence. Plus, I'll hopefully start working soon (still waiting to hear back on the application I put in at the bank, I'm gonna call to follow up tomorrow) so I want to get as much painting done as I can before that happens. So...starting tomorrow, my life is going to be a flurry of activity.

Which also means that I probably won't be posting again for a while. Even though Bran plans to get the computer all set up before he goes, it isn't likely that we'll have internet right away, or that I'd have time to use it if we did. I'll post again when I can...

Monday, October 22, 2007


It snowed yesterday morning. :)
I felt like a little kid, staring with wonder at the little bits of frozen fluff falling from the sky, and trying to catch them on my tongue. It didn't snow for very long; only enough to dust the trees with white. It was so pretty! Of course, I know that the novelty will wear off soon, but until then I think it's wonderful.

*shifts mental gears*
Bran and I have definitely found a place to live. It's an awesome 4 bedroom apartment in Hildrizhausen, about 15 min from the base where Bran works. The place is huge! It's going to be absolutely perfect for having people over to visit, so everyone has to come.
They're letting me paint it however I want, and they're not going to make me paint it all white again, which is cool. This means that I will be a bnusy beaver for the next couple of weeks...I'm planning to paint almost every room in the house! But it'll be worth it. My mental picture of how the place is going to look is great. And yes, I got batteries for the camera, so I will be posting before and after pics.
The whole process starts this Friday, so I am off to Obi (the local Home Depot equivalent) to look at paint samples and such. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 15, 2007

I can Has Volksfest? No, you can't has Volksfest.

Yesterday was fun... I met up with Sarah and Peguy at breakfast, and then we decided to go into Stuttgart to catch the last day of Volksfest. (by the by, the Stuttgart Volksfest, pronounced "folk's fest", is second only to the Munich Oktoberfest as far as German beer-fests go.) There were five of us: Sarah, Peguy, Peguy's boyfriend Niel, and Brandon and me. We met up in the lobby, rode to the train station together, and then took the S-Bahn into downtown Stuttgart. And that was an experience in itself... You have to get tickets at an automated machine, then validate said tickets at another automated machine, and have them available should someone come by to check your ticket. That doesn't happen very often, so you can get away with not buying a ticket sometimes, but there's a 40 euro fine if you get caught. Personally, I'd rather just buy the ticket, but that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, using the train system was far less complicated than it could have been because Bran had done it before and he schooled the rest of us. He also knew just where to get off, and where to go once out of the train. Yay Brandon! (I suppose there is something to be said for sending someone ahead to do recon...) Brandon steered us successfully out of the train station and through the Stuttgart Stadmitte (downtown) to where the Volksfest was held. Unfortunately, we were missing one Volksfest. In the square where there should have been a maze of tents, tables and booths, there were only a few strolling people and precisely one fat pigeon. It was quite a disappointment, but since we were there, we decided to make the bast of it and have a good time anyway. We strolled around, goofing off and taking pictures until we found an open restaurant (it is mandatory that stores be closed for business on Sundays, and there aren't many restaurants open on Sundays either). There were 2 or 3 in a row on this one little side street, so we chose one that looked promising and sat at one of their outdoor tables. The waiter was prompt, but spoke a grand total of only 6 words in English, so ordering was interesting. And the menu...! There was an English translation, but there were things like crocodile, ostrich and zebra on the menu. How weird is that? None of us was terribly courageous; Sarah and I both got kase spatzle (think mac & cheese, but much, much better), Peguy got spaghetti, Neil got a chicken salad and Bran chose faloffel. I can't speak for anyone else, but the food was delicious (all of us were drinking hefeweizen). It was a blast! There were none of the awkward silences or groping for conversation that often mark the interactions between people that don't know each other well. Rather, the conversation flowed easily and all of us were laughing more than anything else. The best part, though, is that Brandon seems to like these people just as much as I do, which means that I'm not the only one with new friends. :)

After lunch (we must have sat there for at least 2 hours) we headed back through downtown toward the train station, but when we got there, Brandon took us to an elevator instead of to the trains. He'd mentioned something about going up in a tower, but we all thought he was joking until he hit the elevator button. So up we went, to the top of this tower that turned out to be an observation point for the city. It was awesome! You could see all of Stuttgart from there, and there were little signs on each wall with a key to identify each of the buildings visible from that side. We took a few more pictures (I didn't have my camera, unfortunately I'm out of charged batteries, but Sarah promised to make sure that I have copies of all of hers), then headed for home.

It's strange, that my home is currently a room at the Sindelfingen Marriott... But home it is, for now anyway, and that's where we went. Poor Sarah had a killer headache that had come on at the end of lunch, so she went on up to her room, but the rest of us stayed downstairs at the bar and the merriment continued for another couple of hours. :) I tell you, I am going to miss the bar regulars and the bar staff when we have to leave, though I will certainly be glad to have my own place again.

And speaking of which, Bran and I have another appointment with the housing office on Wednesday, so cross your fingers for us. Hopefully, they won't still be mad about the appointment that we missed last week, and hopefully we will soon be able to get on with the business of moving into our own place.

PS: If you think that I had a momentary lapse in my grasp of English grammar when writing my title for this post, then you obviously haven't been introduced to ICHC. Oh, and I would suggest that you start at page one. :) (warning: there are some mature captions....)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Night of Firsts

Before I get into the meat of the post, I have to back up a bit. Anytime Bran orders a new kind of beer, I always try a sip, for the sake of trying new things and on the off chance that I might actually find one that I like. When we were at the bar the night before last, Bran ordered the hefeweizen on tap. It's a German wheat beer, light colored and kind of opaque. I reached to take a sip, and Bran pushed it at me, saying, "you're not going to like it". But I tried it anyway, and it wasn't immediately unpleasant. So I pondered the taste a bit, then reached for another sip. It was good! But I was already well into a vodka and cranberry, so the discovery got pushed to the back burner. Then, when we ventured down to the bar for dinner last night (we had already decided to spend the bulk of the evening elsewhere) we each ordered drinks to go with dinner. I was tentative (what if I didn't like it, after all?), but I went ahead and ordered the hefeweizen. And let me tell you, it was delicious. I'm so excited to have finally found a beer, a real beer that I genuinely like! Not something that I had to acquire a taste for, but one that I just like. Yay!

So, that was my first 'first' of the evening. The second is that I saw my first rugby game, and thoroughly enjoyed that as well!

Bran and I went to O'Donovan's Irish Pub after dinner as planned. O'D's is the unofficial hang out of the NSWU2 (known more generally as "the unit", "unit 2" or "SpecWar"), and Bran had been there a time or two before. It's a cute little place, not very large at all, but with a great atmosphere. It was dead when we got there around 8, but then people started coming in and the place was packed before too long. Apparently, they usually have live entertainment on Saturday nights, but that was foregone in favor of watching the championship rugby game between England and France. I was a little put off at first, because of course, I've never been one to get excited about watching any sports game (except maybe the super bowl), but I was once again pleasantly surprised. The game is an odd mix of American football and soccer, and pretty easy to follow. Even better, it was easy to get into. It was a close game from beginning to end... I won't bore you with the details of the game, but I was pulling for England, largely because they were the underdogs in the game, and they won! It was all terribly exciting and enjoyable: the game, the yummy beer, the atmosphere...

As a side note, there were a bunch of unit 2 guys there; Bran recognized them from having played soccer or rugby with them in PT, but there weren't any that he worked with. The interesting thing is that at least 2 of them were SEALs! It's a small thing, I suppose, but I thought it was cool. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

We got the BMW!!!

And it is niiiiice. :) The loan application went through just fine, and we made it final last night. yay! I'm super excited about it, but no where near as excited as Bran. For me, the best part is that it has heated seats. How cool is that?!

Oh! and I now have an Armed Forces Certificate of License for driving in Germany. This means that I am legally allowed to drive that new BMW. Look out Germany...

In other news, I made a couple of friends yesterday: Sarah and Peguy (pronounced "Peggy"). Peguy's been here for about 2 weeks, and Sarah's only been here for about four days, and both are currently staying at the Marriot. I didn't get the chance to learn much about them (aside from the fact that we have very similar tastes in purses) since we only got to chat for a few minutes, but I have high hopes. We're supposed to meet at he hotel bar tonight for dinner and drinks, and I'm really looking forward to it. I've been hurting for some female company, so this is awesome.

Beyond that, there is nothing much to report. I've been doing a lot of sudoku and crossword puzzles (we get a daily newspaper outside our room every morning) when not occupied with the business of trying to get settled here...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

ich liebe deutschland!

Ok...I have been here for (counts on fingers) 5 days, and I have already fallen in love with this country. The landscapes are gorgeous, the food is delicious and the people are wonderful. I've noticed a few traits that seem to be idiosyncratic to the German culture, and those are taking some getting used to, but I think that is part of the fun of it all. For example, people you see in stores or walking down the street won't greet you, but they will stare unabashedly at you. My first experience with this was on the autobahn with Bran the other day: we were stuck in a Stau, or traffic jam, so we were moving pretty slow. I was looking all over, trying to absorb it all, when I noticed a 7 or 8 year old little boy in the car next to us just staring me down. So I smiled and waved, and he looked startled and waved back. It wasn't until later that I learned that smiling a greeting like that is akin to coming on to someone... Oh well, now I know. But it is so hard for me not to smile at people! That's just the way I am. I smile at people. You think maybe they'll excuse me, 'cause I'm American? :)
I've also learned that the 'Autobahn' is simply what the German's call their highways. The Autobahn runs all over the country, and speed restrictions are only lifted when it is deemed "safe" to cruise at high speeds.
And, German fun fact #3: Most of the bases around here were once German Nazi outposts. Panzer Kaserne, for example, means "tank base" in German. (Not surprisingly, the Nazis used Panzer predominantly as a tank base.) Brandon even showed me a place on one of the buildings on Panzer where the Nazi eagle still sits above a doorway. They got rid of the swastika, obviously, but as the eagle is actually part of the rock of the building, it wasn't as easy to remove. Besides, the eagle rather suits an American base.

Ayway, back to being on the Autobahn the other day. We were driving to Kaiserslautern to look at cars on a military consignment lot there. There wasn't really anything on site that we liked, but there is a large online selection. We picked two, and the guy was was going to have them brought there for us to test drive on Monday. But that is not the important part. Nor is the absolutely delicious lunch that we had at this cute little cantina right down the road from the car lot. Rather, it was the exploring that we did on the way home. You see, Kaiserslautern is about 2 hours away from where we are staying in Sindelfingen (which, in turn, is just a few minutes outside of Stuttgart. More on that later.). I'd been dozing on the way there, but I was wide awake on the way home. And guess what I see out side my window?
No, really, guess.
Ok, give up?
It was a castle! A real, honest-to-God castle! Maybe I'm easily amused, but come on! That's not the kind of thing that you get to see in the states. So, Bran got off of the Autobahn and we went exploring. We spent an hour or so cruising around the countryside, driving through neat little villages and miles and miles of vineyards. It is all just breathtakingly beautiful... We took pictures until the camera died, including one that Bran took of me stealing a grape from one of the vineyards. It was delicious, but I kept waiting for someone to come and yell at me to go away. It was just one wee grape, guys! Come on! But I swear, no more grape thieving for me.
Oh, and you know Dave, of the pissing-off-a-horse-fame? Well, Brandon is now of pissing-off-the-mountain fame. We had driven up a narrow twisty mountain road trying to get closer to the castle, and ended up at a dead end at the top. Bran had to go, and there was NOTHING around, so he, well, he pissed off the mountain. Sorry Dave, but I think that you've been out--um, classed. (I use the word loosely.) to go back and clear up a few other details. Bran is not actually stationed in Stuttgart; that is simply the nearest major city. There are a few small American bases around here, and to the best of my knowledge, none of them are in Stuttgart. We are currently staying at the Mariott in Sindelfingen, which is nice, but I'll be glad when we are able to get into our own place. We went and looked at an apartment here in Sindelfingen this morning, and it was really nice. It's the first place we've looked at, so we obviously don't want to make any decisions yet, but I really loved it. The only thing it lacks, and this is mostly Bran's beef, is a garage for the car/bike. We're going to look at another one tomorrow, and the printout on it says that it has a garage, so we shall see.
As far as a car goes, we are looking at trying to get financing on a 2005 BMW 325i. Or, at least, that's what I think it is. I know it's an '05 BMW 3-series, and that it's fully loaded, and automatic, and reeeeaaaaly nice. So, keep your fingers crossed for us, and hopefully we will soon be the proud owners of a sporty little BMW sedan.

Aaaand at this point, I think that I am all typed out. I'll be back on later, of course, to keep all and sundry updated (because I know that you are all sitting on the edge of your seats with baited breath, waiting for my next post. :).

Friday, October 5, 2007

I'm in Germany!!!

The flight over was interesting... I first flew from Orlando to Atlanta: a short, quick and easy hour and a half. I was in the very last row on the plane (I thought for a minute that they were going to out me put on one of the wings!), but I had a window seat, which was nice. There was no one in the seat next to me so I leaned against the wall and stretched out toward the aisle with my book. It was nice...we were there before I knew it. But, being in the very last row, and toting a whole bunch of stuff (the cat included), I was the very last person to get off of the plane. I only had an hour in Atlanta, and I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to get to my connecting flight in time. I had to go all the way across the airport, but given that they had a nifty train that makes about half-a-dozen stops throughout the airport, it wasn't bad. I got to my assigned gate with about half an hour to spare, and sat to give Han his second dose of the sedative. Just as I finished with that, they started calling for people to board. Perfect, right? Wrong. When I got up there, they informed me that they had changed the gate for my flight, and I had just under 20 minutes to get from gate E17 to gate E4. I hauled butt over there (it was the same concourse, at least, but it was a totally different hallway. and believe it or not, 9 and a half pounds of cat gets heavy!) and made it by the skin of my teeth. I was towards the back of the plane again, but this time I had an inside aisle seat. I had an empty seat to my left, and the aisle to my right. I was able to spread out into the empty seat, so I wasn't so crammed, but those silly seats go back only so far... I didn't even bother trying to sleep until after dinner (which was surprisingly good), and then I only got a few hours of broken sleep. I thought that we were never going to land...but then we did. I got through customs and baggage claim pretty quickly, then had to wait about 5 minutes for the guy (I'm not sure exactly what his role/job title is) to read over the papers on Han and I was free to go. Bran was right there waiting for me, so we loaded up in the car and we were off. :)

At this point, I've been here for a little over 24 hours, and I absolutely love it. Everything is absolutely gorgeous! Fall is in full swing over here, and the trees are just beautiful. It's a wee bit chilly, but more brisk than cold. It's wet today, though, and I think that the temp is going to drop (if it hasn't started already). I'm still jet-lagging (Bran will NOT let me take a nap) so we're doing some low-key errand-running/exploring. We rented a car yesterday, and today I think we might go looking for one of our own. yay! We met a pair of interesting gentlemen at the hotel bar last night (we had to get out of the room so I wouldn't fall asleep too early) and they've pretty much got me convinced that a BMW would be a smarter purchase than a Volkswagon. {The first, Jim, is an American civilian working for the Army at Patch, one of the bases here. Pete is a Brit working for Mercedes Bens here in Stuttgart. They told us a lot about the area, about local foods and entertainments, and, obviously, about European cars.} So, that is our plan for the day. After that, who knows? But I'm sure that it'll be fun.

PS: Han did very well on the flight over here. We've now got him set up in our hotel room, and he is back to his usual self. *whew!*

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Adventure Begins

expedited us passport: $200
4 piece luggage set: $140
total cost of moving Han, the family cat, from US to Germany: $250
finally getting to re-unite our little family: priceless

:) I know, I'm silly. But we (Han and I) are finally leaving, and I am so excited! I leave Wednesday afternoon, and I'll be arriving in Germany Thursday morning. Yay! And even better, Bran has a 4 day weekend this weekend, so we get to spend some time together before he has to go back to work. We'll get to look around, maybe buy a car... It's all a little intimidating, but overall it's just exciting. I plan to post regularly, because I think that this is the best way for people who want to, to stay in touch and keep up with what we're doing. :)