Sunday, October 13, 2013

Moving Home & Germany Trip

I never know where to begin.

The more time that has passed between posts the harder it is to start the next one.
I'll start with the here and now and work backwards to early September and see what my mind is hanging onto.

Bullet points please . . .

  • Ahhhh. Now I've got this.

We Moved!

  • On September 9th we packed all of our boxes into a rental van and drove 4 miles across town to our new abode. Our wonderful friends John and Andrea met us at our new place and helped unload the van (which took 15 minutes at the most) and they even came back later that week to help us clean! These people are good friends! Thanks again J & A!
  • So many things about this place are better than our old place. I think the improvements deserve a list all their own:
  • Gardens! We have a front and back garden all to ourselves! We're planning for the spring planting already, can't wait to grow our own greens again. We also have a table with chairs in the back garden, we've already had breakfast outside on many mornings.
  • Composting Garbage! We can finally throw our food scraps into a compost bin instead of throwing everything into the trash. We'd been feeling guilty about that since we moved here.
  • Covered bike shed! Finally, a place to store our cycles that isn't from a hook in the bedroom or kitchen ceiling, or in a giant community-cluster-F*%# where people lock their bike to yours or knock it over into muddy puddles. Ahhh. Private bike shed.
  • A Dishwasher. (HALLELUJAH!) My first since moving away to college!
  • A Washing Machine.
  • A Second Bedroom. (Music Studio, Drum Room, Art Studio, Closet Space!)
  • A Gas Stove! Oh how we missed you gas range. Hot plate burners? Never again!
  • A Front Hall Closet (A place to put all those wet, drippy coats and shoes)
  • A Pantry.
  • A full size refrigerator and FREEZER. It's a joy to have a freezer again for so many reasons: frozen berries for smoothies, saving soups and casseroles for later, ice cubes, ice cream, extra loaf of bread . . . it truly feels luxurious to have a freezer again.
  • Hot water on demand. That's right, our hot water heater at the old flat was set to a timer and if the timer was in an "off" phase and you used up the reservoir that was reserved in the boiler's base, you had no hot water for at least an hour . . .
  • A Bathtub! Granted, we now have no shower, but we're learning to love taking baths. 
  • A 7 minute walk to shops, restaurants, cafés and charity shops (before it was a 1.5 mile cycle to get to anything)
  • We both have reduced commute times and distances to work. This also means we're more willing to meet friends at the pub later since we don't have so far to travel to get home.
  • We had our FIRST party at our house! We've not had a proper gathering at a home since before we left Berkeley. Over 40 people came and it was so good. Our house is truly a home now.

Front Garden

Husband Mowing Lawn


We Went To Germany!

View of Central Cologne: View of Ludwig Museum & Dom Cathedral

  • September 20 - 24th we were in Cologne (Köln), Germany. Devin's lab was attending a one day conference but we added on a few days to the trip and spent a few days playing tourist. I'd never been to Germany before, and Devin had only been when he was a wee lad.


The Cologne Cathedral, aka The Kölner Dom. 

    • This stunning example of Gothic architecture is visited by an average of 20,000 people a day. The interior takes your breath away, and I was lucky enough to visit it once (I went twice) while the massive organ played during an afternoon service. 
    • For a few Euro you can climb the 509 stone steps to the top of one of the church spires. Of course, we made the climb.
    • Cologne was bombed within an inch of it's life when the allies came in WWII so not much of the city was left standing. Luckily this cathedral was only damaged, not destroyed (apparently the church was used by airplane pilots as a reference point). 
    • One stained glass window in the south transept was recently updated in 2007 by artist Gerhard Richter. "It is composed of 11,500 identically sized pieces of colored glass resembling pixels, randomly arranged by computer, which create a colorful "carpet"."

Photo Credit

The Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum Köln)

    • One Word: Yum!
    • Learning about chocolate, where it comes from, how it's made and then watching it happen? Yes Please! 
    • Chocolate made at this museum is of the Lindt Chocolate variety.

Photo Credit: Official Website
Photo by Hayley

The Museum of Applied Art Cologne (MAAK: Museum Für Angewandte Kunst Köln) 

We definitely liked certain parts of this museum more than others. We fancy ourselves to be design nerds (though we're terrible at knowing names of designers). This place is a haven for tracking all sorts of design though the ages. Very cool. I could live here.

    Kolumba (musuem): Wiki Page

    I think this was our favorite museum because we stumbled upon it without even trying, the architecture was stunning, the interior spaces were a beautiful play of light and dark, and the exhibition had ancient relics juxtaposed with modern art. Altogether beautiful.

    Our Flat

     Located in central Cologne on Clever Strsße. Perfect distance from the main train station, close to many underground stops, and had everything we need for light cooking and crashing out after a long day of sight-seeing .(

    Pillow Snacks!

    Counting Sheep Pillow Snacks!

    Artwork hanging in our apartment. Silhouettes of Cologne.

    Cologne Botanic Garden

    Definitely worth checking out if you have a day with good weather. We could have spent more time here than we did, but there was so much to see and do elsewhere. Botanic gardens are always a fun (and often free) adventure when traveling.

    Self Guided Walking Tours

    We walked for miles along the Rhine river, taking in the sights, sounds, architecture and good eats of Cologne. And of course, we had a few of the local Kölsh beers.

    Three Spires. Two Gothic, One Bouncy

    Street Art

    Cologne Hbf (Central Train Station)

    Ate one of these. (Berliner = Jelly Doughnut)

    And ate two of these. 

    Feeling homesick? Get a burrito at Bay Area Burrito!

    The Haribo factory is in Bonn about an hour away. They don't offer tours otherwise I'd have been on one.

    Melaten-Friedhof Cemetery

    •  If the above hyperlink is in German, copy and paste link into Google Translate.
    •  Here is a different link in English which gives you some of the history of the cemetery. 
      • "Melaten was conceived not only as place of death but one of life. Like Père Lachaise in Paris, it is in a park like setting for people to walk, look, enjoy fresh air, peace and to visit and keep awake the memory of their deceased."

    Walking through the cemetery I was drawn by the statue of an angel pointing to a grave.
    This is the grave I found. Almost an "Oggel" but not quite.

    The Käthe Kollwitz Museum 

      • "Kathe Kollwitz is regarded as one of the most important German artists of the twentieth century, and as a remarkable woman who created timeless art works against the backdrop of a life of great sorrow, hardship and heartache." - Quote Source
      • I visited this museum on my own while Devin was at his conference. I'd studied Kollwitz in my undergraduate days at University of Iowa and have always loved her woodcuts. The museum was impressive in it's collection of her sketches, drawings, prints, and sculpture. Amazing and influential as she was, her work is heavy, dark and emotional. I was happy to get back outside into the fresh air after a few hours in this museum.

    K.Kollwitz Self Portrait

    K.Kollwitz Self Portrait Woodcut

    Sleeping Woman With Child - Woodcut

    Museum Ludwig 

    We really wanted to visit this museum, but once inside we discovered it was closed for renovation.

    Ich Liebe Dich = I Love You. I made Devo stand by this cookie cart just for this picture.

    My last afternoon in Cologne. Napping next to the Rhine and the riverside.

    It's now 4:54 pm and I started writing this post around 11:00 am.
    Guess I had a lot to catch you all up on.
    And yet I somehow barely scratched the surface of what's been happening the last month!

    With any luck I'll write another post soon to share some more details of our mundane, day-to-day lives. For example, I think I'll go take a bath now. And then, I'm thinking about making Mexican Sweet Potato Skins for dinner and then some Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Bites for dessert and snacks.

    This week at work:
    Grief and Loss in Adolescents: Professional Development Course at Hospice
    Art Therapy for Breast Cancer Patients Post Treatment: A course I'm leading at Maggie's Wallace
    Art Therapy at Milton & Shirley Primary Schools
    Lifestory Review with patients at Hospice

    This week for fun:
    Dinner party with colleagues on Thursday
    And hopefully a few pub nights thrown in with friends.

    Autumn is here. The rain has started. The down coat is out of the closet.
    The sun rises after 7:00 and sets before 7:00.

    All is well in our world.
    Thanks for reading!!


    1. Thanks for sharing your amazing adventures. Makes me miss Europe. I have always wanted to take a boat trip down the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland. If you have a chance, the Lorelei Tour on the Rhine near Frankfurt is very nice, lots of castles and fun sights. And the GrossMunster cathedral in Basel is worth a visit if you are ever there.

    2. awesome post! love hearing about your new pad (especially had fun clicking on the links about the washing machine and stove (hell yeah!!). but your house is not truly a home until i visit it ;-( I miss you, hamster!