Saturday, September 27, 2008

Assorted stuff from Beaverton

Here's a shot of the Beaverton gang. I was hiding inside a piece of playground equipment to get this picture. The gang leader appears to be "Praying Mantis", the guy on the right. The gang is friendly, though. They did stop throwing the basketball around as we passed to enter the playground.

The second car. I haven't yet posted pictures of the first car, but that's because I still need to wash it, it's all dusty. This is the second, a super sweet Jeep Grand Cherokee. I bet you never thought I would sing the praises of any SUV (super useless vehicle, or officially sport utility vehicle) but this really is a sweet car. It's very comfortable and you can haul a ton of stuff in the back, and it's a four wheel drive V8, meaning that the weather or snow will never stop us. The main drawback of this vehicle: it only gets about 20 miles a gallon (11.7 liters per 100 km) on gas!!

Yet another view from the house. It's fantastic to live on the water!

The boys like it too, because you can just walk out the back door, onto the dock, and catch many species of fish. Here's a pike.
This one's a bluegill.

I don't know if we figured out what this one is. They were all thrown back, none were eaten. Yet.


This is a delicious pudding filled long john.

And this is a donut. A real donut.

As much as I love Germany, there is one thing that the country as a whole just doesn't get, and that's donuts. Sure, my German readers may be saying "Aha! Sarah really is a true American!" right now, but this donut thesis is true. The donuts you can buy in any German establishment claiming to sell donuts are not donuts at all, but creepy, airy, bready things of no substance. This morning I woke up and said "I want a donut for breakfast." This is not something that happens often, I probably haven't truly craved a donut in years, but just the thought of a delicious, sweet, cakey donut, fresh from the bakery where I worked 10 years ago along with my coffee this Saturday morning got me all fired up for the 10 minute drive into town.
I must admit, the pudding filled long john is what I truly craved, and it wasn't as good as I remembered. Somehow they've changed the recipe, and there was very little pudding inside, making it a true disappointment. But the donut, that delicious, cakey, frosted thing with sprinkles on it was just perfect. An authentic donut actually consists of cake batter which has been dropped from an apparatus that makes it round with the hole in the center into a deep fryer. Deep frying that cake batter is what makes the donut so sinfully good and crispy. Then it's frosted, more or less with pure sugar mixed with a little water, and can be topped with a number of things, like nuts, sprinkles or cinammon sugar. I prefer the sprinkles, because they step up the already extreme sweetness of the sugary frosting, putting you almost into a sugar coma.
But please don't think I've lost all of my good taste: yesterday after work I met with some of my other foreign language teacher colleagues, and we snacked in a classy way. First we had French cheeses and baguette, and topped it all off with a fruit tart made here in Michigan by a real French pastry chef. Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of that, but it was just beautiful. Much prettier than the donuts. And delicious. It had a lightly sweet, buttery crust, topped with a thin layer of creamy cheese filling, then covered with artfully arranged fruit, and finally glazed with apricot glaze. Mmm.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oh, boy. Look what I just got in my inbox.

"Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin told Colorado voters that Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE) have "gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers."

Oops. The reality is that, as privately-held companies, Fannie and Freddie took no money from the federal government and it is only now that they will become a liability for taxpayers. The Huffington Post reports that "The major concern about Palin's position on the ticket is that she lacks the economic and foreign policy wherewithal to serve as vice president. This certainly doesn't help on that front. At the same time, the remark went almost entirely unnoticed over the weekend and discussions on the developments of the housing market can be difficult to process for even the most attuned voter."

When Palin made the remark, the audience cheered and McCain clapped -- meaning that neither the Republican Presidential candidate nor the Vice Presidential candidate, or even their supporters, understand the roles of Fannie and Freddie. More troubling, McCain told The Boston Globe last year that "The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should," and, here's the real kicker, said that he would look for someone who was a true economics expert in his VP pick."

American politics just keep getting better and better.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The news from America

These birds should have been the according to Benjamin Franklin. Look what he wrote about bald eagles, the national bird we ended up with:

"For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him."

Huh. He makes the eagle sound like a Republican. At least the bad moral character part fits pretty well.

This heron was hanging around by my house this weekend. I saw him in flight on Saturday morning, and he was sitting for a long time like this on Sunday morning.

A week ago I was invited to dinner at a friend of a friend's house (this friend of a friend is from Germany!) and there was this bat on their house! How cool is that? I love bats. I've never gotten to see one so close before!

Here is a view from my house. Well, it's not my house, it's rented, but I live there now for the next 6 months or so. It's on the river! Yay! The flags came with the house, I didn't put those up. I counted 6 American flags on neighbors' property on Saturday, all in view of my house. Flags flags everywhere! Unfortunately I can't brag too much about how pretty it is, it's cold and rainy right now.

In other news, a German exchange student from Dresden showed up at school today!!! I am so excited! I haven't met her yet. She is going to the high school where I teach in the afternoon, and she's taking a class with the other German teacher there. He told her that I am there in the afternoon and hopefully she will stop by! I can't wait to meet her! I really miss Dresden. I can't wait until my two guys get here, that will help, but I just miss Dresden soooo much. It's funny, I miss the things I complained about before: the fast supermarket service (they do throw your food, but here the cashiers are soooooo sllloooooowwww, I feel like I am going to lose my mind every time I go to the store). Customers in German supermarkets are pushy and crowd you, but here they just wander aimlessly from place to place, and there is no system to their navigation of the store. Wow, and Dresden is so beautiful. It is pretty here, but Dresden is breathtaking. And I miss my friends. I even miss the cute cashier at the supermarket who always smiled at me. Wow, but I was impressed yesterday, two people complimented me on my haircut (it hasn't changed) and while out with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew, everybody was just going crazy about how cute my niece is. That is definitely one very nice thing here: people are very child friendly!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ach, du meine Güte.

This morning I forgot my sandwich, saw a deer that had been freshly hit on the side of the road with its leg still twitching, the fire alarms in the house were going off when I got home and it seemed like the car was going to quit on the way home. But at least my classes went well!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Herr Lehmann hat immer recht. (Mr. Lehmann is always right)

Die Baeume sind gross geworden, dachte Frank, und die Haeuser klein. Sie hatten immer hier gewohnt, hier war er aufgewachsen, und jetzt viel ihm das ploetzlich auf. Frueher waren die Baeume kleiner gewesen und die Haeuser groesser, dachte er, und dieser Gedanke machte ihn traurig. Es ist vorbei, dachte er, ich bin wie einer dieser Baeume, ich bin irgendwie aus der Proportion geraten, ich sollte hier nicht mehr sein, dachte er, ich haette es wie Manni machen sollen.
-aus "Neue Vahr Sued" von Sven Regener.

And here's a translation:
The trees have gotten big, thought Frank, and the houses small. They had always lived here, he grew up here and just now he noticed it. Before the trees had been smaller and the houses bigger, he thought, and this idea made him sad. It's over, he thought, I'm like one of these trees, I'm somehow out of proportion, I shouldn't be here any more, he thought, I should've done it like Manni. (note: Manni left Bremen to be an artist in West Berlin, and later moved to New York in the books)
-from "Neue Vahr Sued" by Sven Regener.

I just read this (again) last night. Isn't it funny how things jump out at you in different ways when you read something again? This book is the prequel to "Herr Lehmann", also by Sven Regener. Herr Lehmann was made into a movie about 4 years ago, and it's my absolute favorite movie ever. It's a sort of coming of age story about Herr Lehmann. It's just the perfect movie, funny, a little bit sad, but hopeful. And this passage is now my absolute favorite passage from "Neue Vahr Sued".