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Marianne's Farm House

August 13 , 2005


Dear Families and Friends,

We've moved again - twice. For reasons largely outside our control, in August we left our three-year Frankfurt home and moved to the countryside. Actually, we moved to TWO countrysides, one near Marianne's job and one near John's. Here we introduce you to Marianne's farm.

The plan had been for each of us to get relatively small places for the next ten months, before we move into our Bavarian palace. Marianne would need to move near Giessen, a town about an hour north of Frankfurt while John would move down to monitor our construction project in Bavaria (and, oh by the way, work at my regular job.) By mid-August, John had found a small hotel to stay in, just around the corner from our Pommersfelden remodel project. Meanwhile, Marianne had a real housing search.

Marianne's housing allowance from the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) was relatively generous (three times John's!) and the real estate agent had shown her a number of nice, large apartments. Had we both been living full-time, it may have been nice to go that way but, as it is, small would be better, so we kept looking.

Being modern types, we used "Google" to do the leg work and looked for "ferienwohnungen" or "vacation houses". One of the hits was from a farm 20 kilometers east of Marianne's school and the pictures seemed quite inviting. They showed a modern one-bedroom apartment, available for weekly rental. We sent the owners an email saying "Would you be interested in a ten-month rental?" and they replied "Why not?" so Marianne added it to her list.

When she checked out the apartment, she was sold by the place (clean, right-size), the location (a REAL farm), and the owners Gert and Giesela (absolutely charming). We could not ask for a better combination. "Sommersmuehle" would be Marianne's address for the next school year. Here is a quick tour:

Sommersmuehle is about a kilometer east of Harbach, down a very small road past fields of goats, wheat, and cows. The farm itself has a dozen or more buildings and the Fereinwohnung is upstairs in a building across from the original, half-timbered mill building. ("sommersmuehle"= "summer mill") Three families live here, Gert and Giesela and the families of their son and their daughter. Marianne has moved into a complete community.
Inside, there is an eat-in kitchen, just right for vacation cooking. It may not be the gourmet work space of Marianne's dreams, but it's just fine for the semi-nomad lifestyle we'll have this year.
Off the small living room is a loft bedroom. The steep stairs going up will take some practice but we remind ourselves that it's good exercise. The view from the kitchen is particularly nice.
Gruenberg, about 7 kilometers away, is the nearest "big" town and our post office. In Frankfurt, our post office was across the street and our zip code covered a few city blocks. The Gruenberg zip code covers several square miles.


This area is famous for "fachwerk" or half-timbered buildings, like the mill building at Sommersmuehle. The old part of Gruenberg is filled with them too, and it makes for a very colorful neighborhood.

So, that is new apartment number one. We can't say we look forward to our new, split living arrangement, but Sommersmuehle promises a nice nest at the northern end of the split. Next week, we'll see John's temporary residence in Bavaria.


John and Marianne

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