Saturday, August 12, 2017

Frankfurt, second impressions

Frankfurt reminds me of Philly. There is the downtown with skyscrapers, but much of the housing is 5 stories or less. Lots of green, lots of parks. Relatively easy to navigate the city. It has a comfortable feeling.

I continue to get settled. Yesterday I actually made a cake - I had ingredients and bakeware sufficient to the task. I invited a few people over to share it with me ... Given that I own 8 plates right now (4 big and 4 small) and the cake itself inhabits one of them, it is a small group. I'm not 100% sure I have drinking vessels for all.

Work is both harder and more rewarding than I had expected. My expectation is that I won't be getting bored any time soon, which is just the way it should be. My colleagues are smart, patient, and fun to work with.

The last weekend of each month, the museums have free admission. I used that opportunity to explore a couple of museums and check out the touristy area - the museums are in the neighborhood - and have to admit the scenery is indeed charming.  And the main tourist bridge has, as so many European bridges do, a slew of locks, most of them engraved with names and wedding dates, and in various colors.

This weekend I ventured to a farmer's market. I have complained quite a bit about DC area farmer's markets - they seem to be Whole Foods outside and maybe even more expensive than WF if that is possible, whereas everywhere else in the world the purpose of a farmer's market is to cut out the middleman store, which gives the farmers more income while also reducing the grocery bill for shoppers. This market is more like that, the prices were pretty similar to the regular grocery store but the quality was better, so the shopper still gets good value.  I found the first fresh beets I've seen in Germany, this year's crop and with the tops still on (once I saw a couple of leftover beets, dirt still on them, looking old and rubbery). I bragged to Terry about the beet greens I'll be cooking up this week.

Last weekend I checked out a "street food festival" that was basically a food truck mashup. The Filipino adobo chicken I had for lunch was so tasty I went back for something new at dinner time ... the Balinese stand I had my eye on was sold out of food so I had one of the best falafel sandwiches I've ever had instead.

If nothing else, I eat well here :-)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cabin, Epic Treehouse Version

As usual for an in-the-USA July 4, we headed up to the cabin for the long weekend. It is not news that I love the cabin and everything there is magical and wonderful.  Because of logistical problems we have been debating whether it makes sense to just sell it. Then the kids asked for a treehouse and Terry got a bee in his bonnet to make it something better than a plywood board nailed in the Y of some random tree. Most of our "relaxing" long weekend was consumed with creating Epic Treehouse Cabin Version.

[note: this was supposed to be published a month ago. And with photos. Such is life]

Terry got 8 foot boards and decided not to worry about cutting them down, so the treehouse is 8 square feet. It has two trees growing up inside of it (i.e., it's got 2 tree support rather than just one. The trees come through the floor. They are perfect for leaning against while reading a book).

Day 1 was mostly just framing it out and anchoring the foundation to the trees. We didn't think about taking any photos until that work was just about done, oops, so there's no documentation. A decent chunk of the day was spent simply getting the lumber and tools up the hill to where the treehouse is - in the middle of the woods, nowhere near the lane or anything else that smacks of humanity. Everyone got good exercise and ate a larger lunch than usual - perhaps a bit of foreshadowing what it may be like to have 2 teenagers in the house? Day 1 ended with a trip to Home Depot for more lumber for flooring and the railing, and paint for the railing. And water ice, where we discovered cookies and cream water ice. And chocolate fudge brownie. All dairy-free (we asked). Alex was in heaven.

On Day 2 we had to cart more lumber up the hill. We had to paint the railings, too, which was a task largely delegated to the kids until Terry noted what a sloppy job they were doing. He was happy to release them from chores to play with their new friend, a neighbor girl who they had never interacted with previously and who they spent most free moments with during this trip. She and Zoltan were like oil and water - he'd come back upset from some slight, and 45 minutes later be running off to play with her again. In between the schlepping and painting, Terry lay the flooring. We ended up with a very fancy-looking design using both dark and light wood.

Day 3 was constructing and installing the railing, then realizing the kids are little and skinny and they would plummet right off in between the rails, so we needed to add something to prevent that - in comes some old lattice that had been laying around in what was essentially a junk heap and now finally had a productive use.

This project was much more time and labor intensive than I had thought it would be. And It is pretty close to the end for a while - our plan is to use it as is for a while and through the use determine what we'll do next. For example we first planned to close it in entirely, like a real house, with windows and a door. Then we realized it would be a tragedy to make so much of the surrounding area hard to see when sitting on the floor, leaning against one of the trees and reading a book. So we're considering keeping it open. Or using clear plexiglass to provide a bit of weatherproofing while not keeping nature out entirely. And that goes with the roofing options: something solid? a tarp that can be rolled up or down? A mix? All options are currently on the table.