Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Alles Klar or as my friend would say, Alaska

Hello Everybody!

Here’s some sad news for some, the beard is gone.  That’s right, I shaved.  I have interviews lined up and I don’t want to scare off any potential  promise of a job, particularly now since Germany was threatened of attacks if they did not elect someone that would pull their troops from Afghanistan.

So here is the new me, I figure maybe Mexican farmer would go over well…

image200909240002 image200909240013

As some of you may know,  I had an interview late May of this year at the Franconian International School, which went great, but I was a little in the year to obtain a teaching position.  I have been in contact with the school and I am hoping to start an afternoon Writers Club at the school. 

I want to keep up my teaching so much, that I also applied for job with the Department of Defense at Bamberg.  We’ll see how that goes, they’re in the middle of looking up all my info.  

In the meantime, I’ve decided to build snare drums and maybe a complete drum set when I gain the confidence.  This is not a new idea,  here’s the history…

In late 1996, way before I moved to Portland, I began an apprenticeship under a local drum builder and friend in good ol’ Corpus Christi (if anyone has seen my arbor and patio chair knows that wood projects are not completely new to me, I would say I need more practice).  Well, I learned the basics of drum building and our friendship developed into potential business partners.  Now here’s the fall out, I put together a business package, worked out the pricing, contacted the drum shell manufactures, arranged to see a warehouse to build and store the drums and then…poof.  My so called friend/business partner vanished, later I found out he had moved to Houston.  But what is messed up about this situation is he took all the information I had kept in a binder, which at the time I had not thought about making two packets.  Needless to say we are no longer friends and to make things more scandalous I have a sneaky suspicion he slept with my ex-wife, but that’s another story. 

And recently I found some of my old contact information for purchasing drum shells, but when I tried contacting them I was redirected to another distributor. I can no longer buy directly from the manufacture because I’m considered a small fry.  On the plus side, I did meet a German drum builder yesterday and I am scheduled to visit his workshop mid October, he lives about 2 hours away, so I have to make my visit count.  I’m hoping I can get my hands on some German Beech, Mahogany or Walnut, but I’ll settle for Maple.  I also did some research and found several American distributors and buying from them might be cheaper than buying locally.  Due to the exchange rate, it’s more conducive to buy from the US, but German Beech would be ideal.


‘T’ arrives this coming weekend and then we’re all off to Stuttgart for a day and then to Turkey for a week.  We’ll be staying by the beach for a couple of days and then we head to Constantinople or is it Istanbul. We’re quite excited, Stanley can hardly contain himself.  He’s been locked up in the house for weeks and he’s been complaining about wanting to go outside, but as I reminded him the weather isn’t good for him.

  Signing Off,


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Walking around Herzo

Hello Everybody,

We didn’t do much this weekend. Lazy bones times two I would say. Saturday morning we woke up fairly early, because Tim (the drummer I met a while back) offered to take us to one of the biggest music stores in Southern Germany.

The place was enormous. While it had everything a guitarist could be looking for, it didn’t fair that bad in the drum department either, although it was the smallest section in the store, relatively speaking. I had not been in a music store since I left Portland and this store had some nice drums, even Rene liked the cymbals. It made me have high hopes for my interview in October. Oh yes, I have a job interview early October. Let us all hope it goes well, because I wouldn’t mind paying off some of my student loan and of course buying some German engineered drums.

In the evening we did have some wonderful ice cream. There are several ice cream/coffee houses owned by Italians here in Herzo. Come to think of it … there is a section of the main strip that is heavily populated by Italianesque restaurants. Anyway the ice cream is great, it’s gelato style and they offer one of my favorite combinations of Rum Raisin ice cream. Rene happens to like the Hazelnut and Chocolate combo, not so much for me, it’s good but I like rum raisin the best.

Sunday was the same. Renee has been busy, she has a presentation today that she has been preparing for all weekend. She’ll practice in front of me once in a while and ask me for input. I’d tell you all what it is about, but then I’d have to track you down and erase your memories and that sounds like a bunch of work for me, so all I will say, it is top secret shoe stuff.

On other news, I will be starting another blog dedicated to just beer. I should have it up and running soon. Once I do, I will link it to this blog. Tim convinced me I should write about the different beers that are here in Germany and try to describe them in my silly ways. I’ll have to keep up my bike riding to counter act the beer, I don’t want to grow a beer belly. I was thinking I could do the beer sampling like wine tasting. Take a sip for the initial attack of the beer and then spit it out, then take another sip to describe the complexity of the beer and then spit it out. Then another sip…you get the picture. We’ll see I’ll have to develop some kind of new beer testing technique. Better than the previous one I have in the earlier segment of this blog.

I guess that’s all for now folks. I leave you with some pictures of us walking around Herzo.

until next thyme,



Trying something new with the photo display. Let me know if you think it stinks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Open Mind Festival

Hello Everybody,

Well I’m definitely starting to feel antsy. The weather around here has been all doom and gloom, I thought Portland weather was harsh, but compared to this weather, it’s cake walk. There’s been nothing but grey washing over everything, though it makes the surrounding area look quite vivid for pictures, it is also damp and muggy. A reminder that Fall has arrived, as I was reminded yesterday at the post office, speaking of which.

Yesterday while at the post office, I found out that the postman is Brazilian. We had a fairly good conversation in Spanish, which made everyone at the store stare at me just a little more, as if the beard wasn’t enough right.

Apparently, his mother married a German and later moved back to this Herzo village where his father grew up. He is the second local German I have met that has lived outside of Germany for more then ten years and has returned to his homeland. I’m starting to wonder, and this may sound silly and showing my lack of further investigation, but from walking around town and meeting these two individual, I have begun to get a sense that the “tribe feeling” I have read about in my German cultural books is true. That their is a shared sense of awareness among the people of the village, a sense of belonging to each other, well not simplify it, because it’s more complicated than that. Thus when one leaves and returns, she/he can pick up right where they left off. Although I should ask the Brazilin German if he feels like he’s part of the larger cultural community of Herzo. Anyway, long story short…

As he was helping me send off my mail, he noticed my name and said, “Where is your family from?” I said, “Well, the U.S., but we have roots in Mexico, France and perhaps South America. He said, “Oh, Spanish. You are a little too tall to be all Mexican.” I said,“We come in all shapes and sizes.” Any way after he found out I could speak Spanish, which is not quite like Portuguese, he began talking to me in a Spanish/Portuguese mix, it felt good talking to a person in a language where we both understood each other. He was a nice guy, he even gave me a discount, as he put it, for being one of his people.


We went to another festival, this time it was called, Open Mind Festival in Grafenberg a quaint dorf near Forcheim. The people seemed a lot cooler that the peeps around here and I would say that the villages are about the same size. I should figure out which place is older and what do the demographics of the population say. We ventured to this new land to see a friend of ours, who happens to also be a drummer and performing that evening, it made me a little jealous. The festival was small, but the food was great and the music was good. Sorry no pictures. I am upset at my camera at the moment, well the batteries. Something about my camera just sucks the life out of batteries. I need to figure out what is happening to my camera. I did contemplate buying a video camera…we’ll see, also German electronics are expensive, plus I have to figure out how to use it back in the U.S.

We also made it into their on line newspaper check it out here:

While Stanley went with us to the festival, he stayed in the car. He was still quite tired from our previous adventure. Plus he’s getting ready for our Turkey adventure.



This time I made spare ribs with scalloped potatoes and the whole time I kept thinking how proud Cindy (my sister) would be of Rene had she been here to watch her eat up all the ribs. I have quite fond memories of visiting home and watching my sister chow down about 16 spare ribs, ok that’s a bit excessive, but it was quite a bit. At that time, I would say she could probably out eat my brother-in-law, and anyone who has met him knows he can put away some food. I hope I don’t embarrass them, but I do hold these memories near my heart. OK…moving on.

The Ribs:

Slow cooked and glazed in the oven at about 325 degrees for about 2 or 2 and 1/2 hours. Flipping over and glazing every 10 to 12 minutes.

Glazing: (quite easy, I cheated a bit because I didn’t want to take the time to mix the molasses and every thing else needed to make a time)

Take some Worcestershire Sauce and mix in, garlic powder, pepper and salt and lastly, honey. I tend not to measure because I go with my gut feeling, mix the ingredients until the shire sauce is quite viscous, thick. Taste it, if it’s not sweet enough add some more honey, the same goes for the garlic. Not too much, you want a right balance of sweet and tart. When it taste to your liking it’s ready for the ribs. Also you need enough glaze to last a least an hour and half. So if I have to measure the amount, I would say about 3/4 cup of glaze. You want the glaze to be thick on the pig, so I suggest the more the merrier. Don’t forget that you are pulling out the ribs glazing and flipping them every 10 to 12 minutes for 1 hour and 45 minutes and then let them cook rib side down for the last 15 minutes. I bet it would taste better cooked even longer, I’ll have to try that, you just have to be careful because we’re not make jerky. I suggest if you have an outdoor grill, even better, do it on the grill over mesquite briquettes…man I miss having mesquite.

Which reminds me, you are only allowed to bar-be-queue. something like three or four times a year. You’ll get a fine if someone turns you in for using your outdoor grill to often…lame. Back to the ribs.

You should end up with something like I made and it’s quite easy. This was my first attempt at cooking glazed spareribs, so if I can do it, anyone can.

As a side, I also made scalloped potatoes. I’m still working on that, can’t quite figure out how to make it stay all together. I followed a James Beard recipe and still it wasn’t quite right. If anyone has a suggestion let me know.

We’ll I guess this is all for now. IF you’re wondering why I haven’t been posting on a consistent basis, it’s because I’m trying to post twice a week. I think it makes things more interesting that way. I can’t keep writing what we did the night before everyday. I think it would get boring. Plus, do you all really want to know how often I shower?

Ok then, here’s a picture to keep you laughing for a while.

ImageCheck Spelling

Missing yous,


P.S. A Belated Happy Anniversary to the Noodles.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Handies, Mobiles, Cells…who really needs them.

Hello Everybody,

Here is the latest news about our T-Mobile Phone Company…and the verdict is…they suck.  So Rene has been trying to get her account sorted and up to date with Terror-Mobile, she thought when she called to shut her phone off, when her phone was stolen, all would be good and proper…FALSE. 

Well they did put a hold on her phone, but I guess it was a little late and when she went to explain to them that a $200+ charge was placed on the phone when it was stolen and tried to get that charge removed, they said, they couldn’t because we had not been paying any of our bills.”   Ummm what?  We had a sneaky suspicion about the whole payment process from the beginning.  We thought we were on a withdrawal program with them, and we are, but here’s the problem…they had the wrong account number, I’ll explain that later, at the time of Rene’s call she did not know nor did I, that the account number was wrong. Although the Volks at Terror-Mobile could have told us why they were not getting payment.   Also it was not my fault this time, but I did mess up later.

Rene then sends me to pay for the bills minus the 200 dollar charge at the bank and of course, try to set up a withdrawal account with TERROR-MOBILE.  I strap on my walk shoes and grab my dictionary and prepare for the onslaught of lingual hacking that I will be unleashing upon the tellers at the bank.  Down a trotting the bank I go, ho-ho a merrieo, I am greeted by the teller. After I hack up my German sentences and looked at from across the teller counter with utter confusion (she was very nice in a German kind of way), I am then given an English speaking teller. I guess I have to work more on my German and English, because I tried to talk to then in both languages, perhaps I should have started to speak in Spanish.

We make some progress and I tell her that I want to set up a withdrawal account with TERROR-MIBILE and she grabs my bills out of my hand and begins to read them to herself and then looks at me and says they have been withdrawing money have thy not. I say no, she looks at the account numbers again and says,  Do they have the have the right account number. BINGO, this is why they have not received payment. She explains to me how to fill out the payment form and that I can not make a payment to TERROR-MOBILE at the bank, because I have all the bill forms, I just have to fill them out and send them to TERROR-MOBILE myself.  Ok so they have the wrong account number, I’ll call them and give them the right number and all will be just…wrong.

I get back home and call TERROR-MOBILE and begin to explain to them the situation and how I would like to give them the correct account number so alles Klar… Everything went well until I am told we would have to pay for the 200 dollar mobile charge.  She explains to me that the company is rude that way. She continues to say the consumer is held responsible for his/her phone and she believes they would take the money out of our account, now that they had the right account number.  I explained to her that the phone was stolen not left somewhere carelessly.  It was in purse that was stolen as we ate dinner. She than ask me if I would like to be connected to billing to try to explain. I say yes and wait.  She returns to the phone and says we have no one that speaks English.  Would you like us to call you back when I find someone that does.  I said,  yes,  and I now wait for their call…not holding my breath.

I call Rene and explain to her what happened and she got upset at me because I gave TERROR-MOBILE the right account number and that was not part of the plan, oh yes, that her and her coworker had set up.  I was livid and said she should have clarified what “the plan” was instead of sending me blind to the wolves without a bit of bacon fat to distract them.  I thought I was doing a good thing by giving TERROR-MOBILE the account number. I thought… well they know the phone was stolen and they know the 200 dollar amount was not us, thus they should not charge us.  I guess they don’t work that way.  Rene and I agreed we would be upset at the system not at each other. TERROR-MOBILE pulled a JediMindTrick on me…jerks.

TERROR-MOBILE: you want to give us your account number

Me: I want to give you our account number

TERROR-MOBILE: You will pay us 200 dollars

ME: We will pay you 200 dollars

I should have said mind tricks don’t work on Mexicans, we invented them… I guess not.  Well, Rene is going to try to get her friend to call TERROR-MOBILE and re-explain the situation and to tell them that we can get a police report if need be…you money sucking jerks! Exactly like that.


Chicken and Dumplings

IMG_2707 Rene has been asking for this since last week.  I made it last night it was fairly good. I was surprised.

I cooked the chicken in water with garlic, thyme, salt and pepper the previous evening for about four hours until the meat was falling of the bone. Then today I removed the meat from the bone and condensed the chicken broth.  I used the chicken broth to make a nice sauce.

The sauce:

4 table spoons of butter (butter makes everything taste better)3 table spoons of flour , blend together. Then take 1 and 1/2 cups of chicken broth and slowly pour it into the butter/flour mixture making sure it does not clump. Then pour 3/4 cup of heavy cream and begin to stir until it thickens.  Add white or black  pepper to taste.

The dumplings: (taken and modified from a James Beard recipe)

Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt, make sure it’s all nice and mixed. Then, Mr. Beard says to add 4 table spoons of shortening, but I paused and added parsley, oregano and thyme to the dry mixture and then I added 4 tablespoons of butter, instead of shortening. I cut the butter into little pieces and then I waited a bit to let the butter get soft before blending it together and don’t be afraid to use your hands.  The temperature of your hands will help soften and combine the butter with the dry ingredients.   When all the dry mixture is done you add in 1 cup of milk. Blend it together, it should be quite sticky and should hold it’s shape when you try to make dumplings. If it does not hold it’s shape, there is to much liquid and you need to add a bit more flour to your mixture.

After this I steamed the dumplings on top of the left over chicken broth, you don’t want want to submerge your dumplings, they will fall apart and dissolve.  Steam for about 15 to 17 minutes. You also want to leave enough space between the dumplings because they will expand. I accidently made a giant dumpling which took over two of it’s neighbors when I was steaming the first batch.  I wish I had a picture, it looked crazy, kind of like Mickey Mouse, if Mickey’s mother drank while she was pregnant with him.

I think you can figure out the rest. Arrange the chicken however you like on a plate with the dumplings and then cover with gravy.

Here is another collage of the process.  It should expand. Food1

I really like making collages of the process, it’s way easier to upload onto the blog.

until next time,


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hello Everybody,

Herzo Sunday Morning

We went to Neurnburg this weekend and ran into Alister, a friend from our language class. Being a Brit, he and wife invited us to have, as they pointed out, a proper cup of tea, not being a big tea fan, I found the tea to be quite good, with the right balance of milk. Well after much hubbub, we ended up spending all afternoon walking around the city with Alister and a couple of his friends and some local Germans, can you believe it, oh yes, and Stanley.
Stanley had a great time, talking about how impressive the city was, particularly after he learned it was completely rebuilt after WW2, I guess Stanley forgot to read his history, but I explained to him that the city was about 80% destroyed in 1944, minus the Churches and the old Castle, but much of the old city was gone and rebuilt. How the underground tunnels, used for storage, saved the people of the city.
After learning about the tunnels, some how Stanley managed to rope me into arranging a tour into these tunnels with the new people I'd just met. So, now I have to get orginaized and arrange an English language tour...Stanley... the guys here a week and he's got me talking to strangers about how we should all visit the tunnels.
But everything went well and I now have to figure out all the logistics of this outing.
Anyway, here's Stanley having a merry time.

The Food:
Yesterday I went shopping and saw something I tend to overlook back home, fresh figs, and inexpensive figs, even better. I had to buy some, immediately my mind went to work. What do I make with these feash figs? What else, but a nice fig and port compote/sauce or some other fancy word for sauce, that I can't remember at the moment.
I also purchased a turkey leg about as big as my arm. This turkey must have been atleast two feet tall. Stuffed that guy with garlic and coved it withsalt and pepper then into the oven it went as I began the Fig sauce thing.
The port, nothing too expensive.

getting my mixin' on...
The figs a cookin'...

and bread bought at the Italian store....sehr gut.

Here is a collage of the process. I think if you click on the picture it should expand.

Missing everyone,
P.S. First day of school, wish I was there.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Who's this guy?

Hello Everybody,

Here's my new best friend, don't anyone get jealous. Actually, he'll be hanging out around the house for about a month and then he'll be leaving to visit my sister. I believe people know him as Stanley. He'll be going with us to the festival in Stuttgart and visiting Turkey for about a week, I hope he doesn't "thin" himself out from all the travels.

Here he is walking near the watch towers of Herzo. After this he got hungry and we stopped to have some ice cream, I guess he really likes ice cream because he had a triple scoop...crazy. So I'll keep you posted with his happenings. I think we might go bike riding tomorrow. We'll see it's been rainy, Stanley doesn't like to stand in the rain.
My newest baking's banna bread. Let's just say a little whiskey goes a long way.

Here are the new pictures from the Skype Chronicle.

Everything is going fine, we're starting to miss Portland, our famly, and friends now. As the weather changes and we head into a different season, which is new and unpredictable, it reminds us, or at least me, of how we are heading into the unknown of this new place and with this thought comes another thought...what the crap, we're in germany what do we do today and what of tomorrow and next year?
'Til next time...