September 2009


I love Betty Crocker muffin mix. There is nothing like blueberry muffins fresh from the oven, with butter melting and oozing into the soft bread. I brought a box with me when we came to France and have been saving it for a special occasion; eventually I planned to make muffins for my birthday but then my sweet husband made me breakfast so the muffins remained. A recent visitor brought some new packages of muffin mix for me so I decided to go ahead and make the box that has been waiting patiently to give me its comfort and nourishment. Plus, I have been in the sort of mood lately that leads to a lot of dipping into my American food stash. Anyway so I whipped up the batter, spooned it into a greased muffin tin (I only really had enough for 11 of the muffin holes so I re-allocated in order to have 12) and popped them into my preheated oven. I then proceeded with cleanup, which means “licking the bowl and spoon in order to consume every molecule of batter,” and then I proceeded with real cleanup. I started to break apart the bottom of the mix box to add to my recycling bag when I thought, “I can’t do this! The egg goop will get everywhere” and then it hit me: there was no egg goop because there were no eggshells in the box. Which means there were no eggs in the batter presently baking in the oven.

I waited eight months for these muffins and then I made them incorrectly. What. a. moron.

They tasted ok but the texture was disappointing. I hate waiting eight months for something and then being disappointed by the result – which is completely my own fault.

In better news…this is actually the best news I have heard in a while. JENNIFER KNAPP IS MAKING MUSIC AGAIN. AND ALSO LETTING US HEAR IT. Her website actually has something on it. Even so, I might be skeptical – it IS possible for some nutter to hijack her website…but her myspace page has a new song on it. A song that is not even on iTunes. A good song, so good you can’t even tell she’s taken a 7 year break. And it is definitely the real Jennifer Knapp.

I know this because “musical voice recognition” is one of my superpowers, along with “spelling” and “proper grammar.”

Chronologically, this takes place before part 1, but the other one was quicker to write.

Jake & I met up with some friends to spend a few days in the Munich area before our conference. We had a great time with them and made some wonderful memories, which I will hereby share with you.

Our first day in Munich, we took a walking tour of the city, given by a guy who was knowledgeable enough but I think he was really just there for the beer. I would agree with him, however, that witnessing the Glockenspiel firsthand is waaaay overrated. After a bite of lunch we took the train to Dachau.

"work makes free"

"work makes free"

The closest thing I can compare this to is a cemetery: eerie, but also very peaceful. The eeriness is multiplied exponentially; tens of thousands lost their lives there, but hundreds of thousands suffered horribly and in addition, this was the model used for other concentration camps. But it also feels very much like a memorial, as if all the tears shed and prayers uttered have sanctified it somehow. Definitely a very powerful experience and one I’m glad to have had.

Later that evening, we were on a city train and heard part of an announcement urging passengers to make sure they were on the proper half of the train as it would soon be splitting. We dashed off our car, sprinting to get to the front half of the train, when Jake called after us to inform us we were on the right car. We stopped, did a quick about-face and started sprinting back, only to have the doors close in our faces. It takes very great talent, my friends, to miss the train you are sitting on.

The next day we decided to take a half-day and go see “the Cinderella castle,” which is what English speakers call Neuschwanstein Castle, probably because they can’t pronounce it properly. And also because the Disney castles are modeled after it, apparently. Let me pause here to note that we were well aware of the German reputation for punctuality and planned carefully to catch the 8:30 bus outside our hotel. At 8:25, we rose from breakfast in the lobby, just in time to see the bus pull away. Apparently Germans also abide by the “on time is early” maxim. No matter; there was another bus at 9. We made sure to catch that bus into the center of Munich, where we caught a city train to the regional train station. We then rode a regional train out to the middle of nowhere and switched to another regional train, which delivered us to Fussen. From there we caught a bus that took us…I’m not really sure; it was possibly a small village? or maybe just the tourist center for the castle? and we purchased tour tickets and hiked up (and I do mean UP) to the castle. We looked around and then just waited for our tour to start. Finally, it began – with our “fluent” tour guide speaking roughly 3 words per minute. It was………the most…………………irr.it.a.ting…………….thing ever. I will say that it was absolutely beautiful inside. Of course some parts were overdone and gaudy but the murals were lovely and the throne room floor…oh, it was breathtaking. I was going to get a picture of it – it’s this incredibly amazing mosaic of animals – but pictures were illegal. Not that that stopped me; I was going to get the floor picture after the chandelier picture but this German lady yelled at me and let me point out that Germans are really, really scary when they yell. So, I give you this:

P7310494

RANT: This is not the sort of place where photography is prohibited because the flash will damage something. It is prohibited SO THEY CAN MAKE MORE MONEY OFF YOU (after paying the overpriced tour fee and all the expenses to travel there) by forcing you to buy THEIR pictures in the gift shop. They don’t even have any good pictures of the floor in the stupid gift shop; here are the best 2 I found online: one and two. For a non-capitalist country some sites are very into ripping people off. END RANT

NEW RANT: if you are going to force me to purchase one of your overpriced postcards, at least provide one of the freaking masterpiece on the floor. END RANT

We finished the less-than-inspiring tour and looked around outside some more, then hiked back down to the village thingy to catch the bus back to Fussen. We realized that all the eateries in Munich would be closed by the time we arrived back there so we decided to grab something quickly in Fussen before the train left. Unfortunately, being 6:00 or so, none of the eateries in Fussen were open yet (Europe doesn’t seem to change its normal pattern for tourists). We found a kabob place and while our traveling companions had the foresight to order kabobs, Jake & I inquired and determined we had juuust enough time to get pizzas. We waited anxiously for the pizzas to cook; I was practically wringing my hands. They were ready with 2 whole minutes to spare! We grabbed them, threw our money down and literally sprinted out the door and through the tiny town. As we came upon the train station, some teenagers shook their heads at us and said, “Too late.” But we couldn’t be too late! We were right on time! Right?

Wrong. “On time is early” struck again and the train had departed early. For a brief moment we were worried we were stranded in Fussen of all places, and were pleased to discover large luggage lockers nearby as our lodging. We made ourselves comfy on the train platform to wait for the last train of the night. We caught it, and the next regional train, and the city train, and by this point we had to take a taxi to the hotel because our half-day trip had taken 15 hours.

So, before Camino, Jake & I were in Germany for a conference. The conference was ok; the evening speaker was actually quite good, but the rest was par for the course: pretty mediocre. A few breakout sessions – like 1 – was useful. BUT our room was swanky, so that was nice, and the shower had phenomenal water pressure (and I’m not just saying that because my shower at home was, at the time, a mere trickle), so basically it was luxurious. Oh, and the food was particularly good, considering it was conference food. The setting was gorgeous, so it was more than a little irksome that they kept us busy all day, but at least there was something nice to stare out the window at.

The main highlight was friends. We got to hang out with some dear friends and that was just…refreshing. It is nice to be with people who like you because they just like you, as opposed to people who tolerate you because they have to.

view from the hotel

view from the hotel

quad 8, take 2

quad 8, take 2

OK, folks, here is a link to some of my pictures from Camino. You should be able to see them, even if you’re not a Facebook user. If you can’t for some reason, and you actually want to see them (BEWARE: they are pretty much all landscape-y or sightseeing-y), let me know and I’ll put them up here.

(Why, Suzanne! Why didn’t you take any pictures of people? Or WITH people? Well, I did – at their request and on their cameras. I figured I could just get the people pictures from everybody else and save myself the bother.)