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HOUSE DIARIES

Finish Germany

August 19 - Sept. 3
Written August 24 -- 31

Dear Diary,

Just catching up - again.  As always, this serves as our memory aid, particularly important as we age!  I'm sure there is nothing remarkable, but my notes are at least equivalent to or better than the moments people immortalize on Facebook and Twitter.

Week of August 19-25

The most unsettling part of this week was my left arm.  In the last diary, I showed a picture of a large bug-caused bruise, but it kept getting worse and worse until I actually went to see a doctor.  His first word was "Wow!", not a scientific diagnosis I liked hearing. He said such severe impact comes from the bug bite being deep enough to have hit a blood vein and "it happens, from time to time."  At this point, there was nothing to do but wait a couple of weeks for the bruising and soreness to go away.  It did make me see how dangerous garden work is.

Maybe because I was reluctant to do any more yard work, we went on a short trip to check out a local wine festival. At least that was the plan.  We looked on the internet and Würzburg had a big fest going on, but Bad Kissingen was reported as having a smaller one on the same days and our preference is for small, so we opted for the one-hour drive up to the spa town.

As it turned out, the internet information was wrong and Bad Kissingen had no wine festival at all, but by the time we learned that, we were locked into a non-refundable reservation at the hotel, so we stayed anyway to check out what a small German spa town might offer.  Mostly, it offered peace, quiet, and the company of many people even older than we.  The town itself was cute enough, and there were a few attractions other than health spa clinics, but I doubt we'd return.  Just not our thing.

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Hotel -- Market Square -- Spa  -- River Park
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Younger Folks -- Carriage -- Past Floods  -- A project for us? (No!)

On the way back, we stopped at the "GWF-Vinothek" just outside Würzburg.  GWF is a big commercial coop for local wineries.  We had been feeling the need to add local wine knowledge to our summer wine classes and this seemed like an easy way to learn about our local "Franken" wines.  Wine has been made from grapes grown on the local hills for almost two-thousand years, so there is history, but the quality is just not the same as that from sunnier parts of the old Roman Empire in Italy and France.  Bottom line: we found some to be OK, and even bought a dozen bottles, but we do look forward to completing our 2012 summer wine class in Italy next month.
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The wine-maker seemed a bit stiff, but the wine sampling was friendly enough.


Week of August 26 through September 2

Right after our Franconian wine lesson, we got back to finishing all the house and garden preparation that is necessary before we can leave on another long trip.  Marianne did one batch of jam from the plums that showed up this year.  We have one wild tree at the end of our yard that chooses to bear fruit every three or four years, so we feel like we need to make the most of it.  She also made applesauce from a small part of this year's apple crop.  In past years, it seemed like we never had enough apples for more than a snack, but this year is different.  Of course, just how many apples does one need?  Far fewer than a tree can produce.

We took Sunday off to visit Beverley and Alan, friends who had invited us to dinner at their home south of Nuremberg.  To make sure we worked up an appetite, they took us on a hike along a local river.  The scenery included trees growing out of rocks and remains of 18th century villages that themselves were attached to the same rock cliffs. This particular village was burned to the ground after a particularly nasty battle of the Thirty Years War.

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After our hike, Alan fixed a wonderful steak dinner while we looked over to their neighboring castle.

Needless to say, our eating and drinking had overwhelmed the calories we had used on our little walk, so when we got back home we resolved to watch our calories for awhile.  That resolve lasted one day, just until Marilyn and Dieter invited us to a nearby beer garden.  Somehow we have lived in the area for six years, but had missed one of the biggest concentrations of beer kellers in Germany, or at least in Bavaria.  On a forested hill not 20 minutes away, are four or five kellers tempting us with hearty food, solid desserts and, of course, a selection of local beers.  ("Kellers" originally were connected to caves where beer was stored.  Beer would be sold at the door, along with simple meals.  Nowadays, the operations are much more elaborate.)  We watched our calories, lots of them. 
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Three of the beer kellers.
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Dieter and Marilyn and the desserts I was too weak to resist.

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One beer keller is at the bottom of this picture and the others are at the top, next to a stone chapel that is part of a famous pilgrimage route.  Even pilgrims need a bit to eat and drink.

Our other excitement this week has been car repair and servicing.  Together, our cars have almost 20 years experience, but keeping experienced cars in good running order is expensive.  The Allroad needed a new catalytic converter and, despite the drop in platinum prices this year, Audi still charges as if the exhaust cleaner was made of gold.  And the Boxster needed something before we could take it on another long trip.  I'm not sure exactly what the something was, but it required a full day and several hundred euros.  At least the Porsche people give us nice loaner cars.

Now we are starting the packing for the trip to Italy and finishing all the fall yard work.  I figure it will be a lot less comfortable outside when we get back in October, so we are trying to get ahead. Besides, fall really has started here in Germany.

This weekend we have had more social activities with friends from California, Malinda and Scott.  We visited their rented apartment down in Nuremberg on Saturday.  For lunch, they invited us to the Mobile Kochkunst cooking school where we were treated to a wonderfully fun meal, seated right in the kitchen.  On Sunday, they came up for us to show off our house.  Scott is an architect and he asked all sorts of specific questions that we were delighted to try to answer.  After that, we went over to a nearby beer keller and treated the California visitors to real Bavarian food.  They loved it.  I think they may be more German than we are, especially Scott.
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Kitchen school lunch above.  Beer keller below
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d120902_02_jam.jpgOtherwise, we are just packing, making jam, cleaning house and preparing the garden for winter. Friday night we took time off to watch one of our best backyard sunsets.
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The top row are "regular" photos, the bottom row are HDR.
It's hard to say which I like better, because the sky itself was so special
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Sunday I inventoried the condition of our yard and garden for comparison with the next time we see it, in October.
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These will be very nice memories to take along on our trip to Austria and Italy. 
Another story.

John and Marianne

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