Thursday, July 29, 2010

New British-American Shop in the Neustadt

How about that? There is a new shop on Rothenburger Str. 26, run by an American married to a German who's been in Germany for almost twice as long as me! I saw the sign in the window of the still-empty shop a couple weeks ago, and thought, "Hmm, what's this all about?" and happened past yesterday only because the tram stop by my house is not in use right now, so I had to walk two stops. Good thing! It's a neat little shop, with a nice selection of foods and books. It's always funny to stand in front of shelves of American products here, it's like being transported to an American grocery store for a few minutes. She even has a wish list, so if you and a couple other people want something, she'll try to get it. Come on everybody, go sign up for Grape Nuts! I was the first person to ask. I didn't sign up on the list, though, because I will be buying my own in just a few short weeks... We wound up having a nice chat and W scored a new Dr. Seuss book out of the deal. A good stop for all.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I love finding stuff, and days where I find neat stuff seem to come in clusters. Either I'm finding four leaf clovers left and right, or I find kids' clothes by the donation container or at the free store a few days in a row, or I just find stuff on the street that people put out because they don't want it any more. That is the case with yesterday and today. Yesterday I found some dishes that will be useful because a certain four-year-old in my house helps to put away the dishes and sometimes drops them. And today I found a memory card from a camera, and voyeuristic me was pretty excited to see just what was on there. I had hoped for some documents full of spelling errors or some pornographic photos, but got some pretty normal stuff, like photos and vacation videos in the mountains from 2002. Entertaining nonetheless.

If you're a little bit creepy like me and like to get a glimpse into other people's heads by looking at their junk, then you might also enjoy Found Magazine.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I went sailing today!

Well, no, I didn't, but "I went to Marga and took some pictures of Art Nouveau architecture!" doesn't sound nearly as exciting and glamorous as sailing. Sailing smacks of having a special striped sailing shirt, boat shoes and a cool anchor tattoo, none of which I have. SK and W were sailing with a friend on Senftenberg Lake, while I took F and walked along the lake about 4 kilometers to Marga, a little suburb built in a circular arrangement in the early 20th century to house the many miners that were needed in the area at the time.

Senftenberg Lake, like the other many lakes in Lower Lusatia, used to be a giant strip mine, but after the mining was all finished, it was decided to flood the mine and make a lake. I like that attitude: take a raped piece of nature and make something nice out of it! Not only is it a lake, but it is all public property surrounding the lake, meaning you can bike on good trails, camp at campgrounds, go for an ice cream, or play at one of the many playgrounds. Or you can sail or do whatever else it is that one does on water (as long as you don’t go to fast, there is a pretty low speed limit).

Back in the early 20th century is when this all began. At that time, the strip mining was becoming big business, and there just weren’t enough people around to fill all of the jobs. People were brought in from the surrounding states as well as countries to the east of Germany. They all needed a place to live, and so Marga was built. This was built as a suburb of Senftenberg, today it is more or less a part of the town. It was designed by a Dresden architect in a circular formation. When you see it in an aerial view, the town looks like a circle, with a ring of trees surrounding it and the market square and church in the center. The residential houses surround this. Historically it is interesting, because a lot of American suburbs were built following the model of this workers’ neighborhood. It really does feel like a suburb, it has everything one needs for daily life in a central place, and the houses are all on quiet little streets, they all have yards and fences, and the streets are curved so that you lose your orientation pretty easily.

A view across the market square in Marga

The thing that really blew me away about this little suburb, however, is that it was completely unified in style, and that style was my absolute favorite architectural style right now, Art Nouveau. Just for kicks yesterday evening while we were planning our trip for today I was trying to think of what I could do in town while the guys were sailing, so I searched for “Art Nouveau Senftenberg” and my good friend Google pointed me in the direction of Marga. This was more than I could have possibly hoped for!

The bakery. I like the wooden elements, often seen on country style Art Nouveau buildings.

The post office, clearly marked by the post horn on the roof.

The restaurant Kaiserkrone, which doesn't look like it's in business.

There were lots of little mining details worked in to the buildings, like this on a doorframe on the Kaiserkrone: "Gl├╝ck auf!" is the typical miner's greeting, meaning so much as "May luck be with you and bring you back up safely!"

Also on the Kaiserkrone: fantastic stained glass windows. These may even be original, the window frames themselves certainly looked to be original.

The parsonage. This was one of my favorite residential houses in Marga. It was next to the church. The outside of the church was pretty reserved, and unfortunately I didn't have a look inside since there was a service starting just as I was walking past.

Walking back into the center of Senftenberg I also happened past some pretty neat residential houses in the Art Nouveau style. Here in Dresden the Art Nouveau houses have a lot of rounded, smooth, sleek, incredibly graceful decorative elements, and in Senftenberg there were a lot of slightly more boxy elements with more grooves and almost Aztec-looking (at least to me) designs.

This house made my little Art Nouveau loving heart skip a beat. Look at those window frames!

The intertwined roses!

The details of and around the door!

And just one more, this was by the market square in Senftenberg. I almost missed this elephant up at the top of the facade of this house, but then I saw him and was just tickled pink. The guys had fun sailing, I had a great time on my little architectural safari, and at the end we all got together and grilled in our garden. All in all, a great day.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Greenhouse

It may sound like a hairbrained idea to put up a greenhouse in the middle of the city where most people don't even have their own yards, but give us a hairbrained idea and we'll do it! I've been writing so many words lately that I decided to put up some pictures again. These greenhouse pictures are kind of old, so the plants are much smaller than they are now, but since I'm too lazy to transfer my newer pictures from the camera right now because the heat is making my brain melt and ooze out of my pores, you'll just have to live with these ones.

There she is, the little greenhouse. To the left you can see the living room window next to which I am sitting right now. The plants were tiny when I took these pictures, the cucumbers are growing out of the window in the roof now.

Tiny cukes!

Here things were getting greener and taller.

Behold! The tomatoes! Some are getting red now.

Rest in peace, first cucumbers. Shortly after this picture was taken, that little red-headed bane of my existence who runs around like a wild animal now that it is summer vacation ripped our first two cucumbers off. Haha little jerk, they weren't quite ripe yet. After the tragic theft, the greenhouse was fortified with a gate. Following its construction, the red-headed beast was heard standing in front of said greenhouse, rattling the gate and saying, "Boah, krass eh, boah, ist das krass." This isn't the freaking soup kitchen, genius, we don't have any handouts here. As my grandfather may have said in this situation: "Who in the hell is that dirty little red-headed son of a bitch in my yard?" But instead, a certain member of my household tore open the window and yelled "What is your problem?" The little beast seemed shocked, but after the window was closed (and my secret window still open) we heard the little monster call us assholes. Regardless, he hasn't come back. Either he is on vacation, or was scared shitless. A Sauer Kraut* can be intimidating!

*see here for explanation

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

by Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Good times and noodle salad

Mmmm, oh I can't believe it, I just made a pasta salad that tastes like my favorite tomato
mozarella bagel by Thomas! I am thrilled. Today has been quite a day of cooking: for lunch I took the celery I had in the fridge from making a different salad on the weekend (which received massive boos from one member of my household because "the celery is too hard and the leaves get stuck on the roof of your mouth") and whipped up a delicious soup. Call me crazy for cooking soup in this weather, but my kitchen remains amazingly cool even now because it's north facing and shaded by several trees. This soup reminded me of the Chinese Beef Casserole my mom used to make (or maybe still makes, I don't know), which is also heavy on celery, just minus the beef!
Just now I made some italian style pasta salad and can't wait to chow down, because, as I mentioned, it tastes like my absolute favorite food ever made by the bagel man. The tomato mozarella bagel was my main form of sustenance during my first month in Dresden, when I was staying next to Bagel's at the Mondpalast hostel. Even now I live only about a ten minute walk from there, and am so pleased that he is open again during the day, because now if there's crappy weather and we need to get out, I can have a coffee there and W can drink a "mango": he prefers to shorten mango juice to just mango.

Here are the recipes, sorry North Americans for the metric units of measure, but there are lots of good conversion sites online and I am lazy:

Celery Soup

6 oz. finely chopped celery (sticks and leaves, not the root! You can make a good schnitzel out of the root)
1 small onion, finely chopped
6 oz. potato
1/2 oz. unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pints vegetable broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream
chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a large pan together with the olive oil and gently fry the onion and celery until soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth and diced potato.

Boil for about 20 minutes, then blend it with your mixer stick (or immersion blender or Purierstab, whatever you want to call it) leaving some chunks. Salt it, throw in the cream, stir it, chop a little parsley and sprinkle it on top to make it pretty.

I doubled this due to my overabundance of celery, so we will be eating celery soup tomorrow too.

Italian Pasta Salad

250 grams noodles (I used fusilli)
200 grams mozzarella (the fresh kind in ball form)
100 grams dried tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
70 mL olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon each pesto, mustard, honey
salt and pepper

Cook the noodles and rinse them with cold water.
Wash the arugula and chop it a bit.
Drain the oil from the dried tomatoes and the water from the mozzarella, chop those into about 1 cm cubes.
Mix all this in a large salad bowl, add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix oil, vinegar, garlic (chopped or pressed), pesto, mustard and honey and pour over salad shortly before eating.
Mix salad and garnish with parmesan.

For this salad you can also add some ham and pine nuts, I left off the ham since I don't eat the stuff, and forgot the roasted pine nuts after having gone on an expedition to find some! Another note: the arugula in this salad also got massive boos from that special member of my household who also stated that it was "too hard" and picked out every last bit.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Well, if we can't fix it, we might as well laugh about it.