Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hans Christian Andersen and The Ugly Duckling

In Copenhagen there are two huge department stores: the "Illum" and the "Magasin du Nord". I had read that H.C. Andersen had lived in a room under the attic in the latter but couldn't find any further information on it. So, one day while looking at Danish design at the "Magasin" we asked a sales lady. She smiled and sent us to the third floor. 
But even though we searched the whole floor we couldn't find the room. No signs, absolutely nothing but houseware items and books. Again, we asked a sales lady for help. She nodded, smiled and motioned to follow her. Bringing us to an unmarked door, she had it unlocked and we were able to walk into the room that the author had lived in during his youth in Copenhagen.

Doesn't it look like he just got out of bed?

Later, during the day, daughter found her own "ugly duckling". 

Friday, February 27, 2009

Copenhagen 2009

A year ago son and I visited Copenhagen and liked it so much, we had to show it to husband and daugher.
After our flight to Copenhagen airport we took the train to downtown...  

checked into the SAS hotel, just like last year...and after trying out Arne Jacobsen's chairs got familiar with the city...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fasching in Assamstadt

Even though it is unbelievably cold outside we drove to Assamstadt and watched the parade there. There were lots of talented musicians...


who felt daughter's face needed some soap...
and then there was a "Super Mario" float. It was by far the best float. And both daughter and son claim they would feel that way even if cousin and her boy-friend wouldn't have been members of it...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Winter Blues

Weather here is dreary and bleak. To deal with the winter blues I am eating lots of chocolate and Haagen Dazs ice cream (Butter Pecan, Rum Raisin, Vanilla Swiss Almond, White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle and any other kind I can get my hands on).

Husband is arm wrestling Eric Singer and talking guitars with Bruce Kulick.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Little Red Riding Hood

"Fasching", the German carnival is starting next week. Daughter is going to be "Little Red Riding Hood". She put a lot of thought into the props. We even had to order japanese fabric online. Surely, if little red riding hood were to walk around a forest these days, she would look just like that.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


And just when I thought winter is done and over with...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Son, daughter and I went to the "Hundertwasser" House and Tower in Plochingen, Germany.
Daughter is learning about the Austrian artist in art class and I figured she would understand his art best if she actually saw it.
Hundertwasser was an architect, artist, traveller and inventor of words. He believed that God doesn't like straight lines, otherwise you would find them in nature. But God clearly loves colors and thus, Hundertwasser built houses without straight walls (where possible) and had them painted in many, many colors.
In Plochingen even steps to the buildings aren't perfectly straight.

As we were walking around, the kids and I were wondering if the people living here are happier than people living in your average, grey building. 
A word Hundertwasser came up with is "dunkelbunt", which means a mix of deep, dark colors. Sad colors like you can see on a rainy day.
I think we understood what he meant as it was raining cats and dogs during our excursion.

Pictures taken by son and daughter.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


While my job sent me, for the umpteenth time, to Frankfurt, husband went to Madagascar. And even though he didn't bring a lemur monkey home for daughter, he has pictures and lots of stories to tell.

This little boy is leading a cow on a leash: 

Laundry day:

Street vendors selling lychees and mushrooms:

This little boy looks like he is waiting for the school bus. No idea, if there is such a thing as a school bus in Madagascar but clearly, he is waiting for something. He has an old backpack hanging off his back, no shoes and a very serious face.
About the same time this picture was taken, I took my godchild shopping for her school bag. The one we picked has extra soft and cushioned straps so her shoulders won't hurt and the back is carved like a child's spine so her posture will not be damaged. She will be perfectly taken care of.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Godchild, New School Bag and Cake

Goddaughter will start school this year and I wanted to be the one to get the school bag for her. Those school bags are a huge deal here. You have to make sure they are approved by some educational (big enough? All the books fit in?), medical (perfect fit? Not too heavy? Doesn't strain the back?), environmental (toxins?) and police (reflectant stripes?) agencies. And of course it has to be pink and lovely for the girls and cool and tough looking for the boys. It took us quiet a while to find the perfect one but I think we found it in this one:

Afterwards, son and I took her to a little cafe and had hot chocolate and chocolate cream cake. I think she was on a sugar high by the time we drove her home, because she kept on giggling and telling us funny jokes about monkeys and monkey poop.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Pocket Money and the Rented Dog

Three days before Christmas daughter realized that while she had made a Christmas card and drawn pictures for her father, she hadn't bought him anything. "It is ok," I told her. "He prefers the things you make anyways." But she didn't believe me. She needed to buy him something and had no money at all. 
In her desperation she went to her brother. "I won't give you any money," he said. "But I will show you how to get some..." And with that, I saw him wandering off with her, searching the Target parking spots for coins. 
After two days of searching the parking spots of every place we went to, she had collected just over a dollar, mostly in pennies. She was very pleased.
"So," I asked her. "What are you going to buy him?" 
"A pack of chewing-gum, " she answered. "Papa will love it."
I was hiding behind a magazine rack while she was paying. It took her and the very patient cashier forever to count all the pennies and then do a recount.

Just after Christmas while staying at my parents-in-law and their very new and happy golden retriever puppy Freddie, daughter sat down next to husband and asked thoughtfully, "Papaaaaa? On this trip we rented a house on the beach. And we rented a car. Can you rent a dog, too?"
"Good question," he said. "Are you thinking of renting Freddie? You should probably ask your Grandparents."

The same evening, while Grandma was getting comfortable on the couch, daughter made her move. "Grandmaaaaaa," she smiled. "Can I please rent Freddie? And how much would it be?"

"Well," Grandma said, "how much money do have?" 
"I have 36 cents left after buying Papa's Christmas present," daughter answered.
"You are lucky," Grandma said, "it costs 30 cents to rent Freddie for 10 days. But, please, no pennies."

So, daughter rented a dog this vacation. Freddie came with a list of resposibilities like taking him out, scratching his belly, feeding him and brushing his fur. For 10 days she never missed one thing on the list.

When we drove up to Savannah after our visit with Grandma and Opa and Freddie, daughter sat uncharacteristically quiet for a long time. "Are you okay?" I asked her, turning to look at her. She nodded and said, "that were the best 30 cents I have ever spent."             

Our Christmas table on Amelia Island this year. The tiny package contains husband's chewing gum. And daughter was right, he did love it.