Monday, January 11, 2010

January 11, 2010: Our visit in the U.S., part two the end of our 34-hour day, we got to say hi to my sister-in-law and one of my nephews, my brother and the other nephew didn't wake up.

In general, I find traveling west much easier than traveling east. I tend to stay up late anyway, and getting over jet-lag when traveling west consists of staying up as late as you possibly can, then collapsing into bed and sleeping because you simply can't stay awake any longer. We all slept fairly well the first night, being so exhausted, but were also awake and up easily for the events of the next day.

My mother, my brother and his family, my cousin, and Jacob and Lukas went skiing the day after we arrived. Jacob had been on downhill skis once before, about two years ago in an indoor ski-hall in Germany at the birthday party of a friend of his, and had cross-country skied with us four years ago in Tahoe. Lukas had never been on skis of any kind. They had lessons and apparently had a wonderful day. I haven't seen photos yet, but my sister-in-law said that at one point she went to take photos and saw Lukas speeding down the hill with a huge grin on his face, the instructor chasing after him yelling, "Lukas! Luuuuu--kaaaaas! Slow down!" That sounds like Lukas. :-)

In the meantime, my husband and the three girls and I went for a walk with my dad. It's always strange when I'm here how familiar and how different everything seems at the same time. Also, ever since I moved to Germany in September 1991, the vegetation here seems so brown and dry, as Germany is very, very green, all year round. However, after a year in Cyprus (where, incidentally, we regularly heard comments from the people who had lived there for awhile about how remarkably green in was that year!!), the wonderful green of the evergreens and grass everywhere here in northern California is refreshing and wonderful! But the bare trees are strange, too--some trees in Cyprus lose their leaves, but not many, and our citrus trees were all bearing fruit when we left at the end of December. This morning Katie told my mother that they should cut down "all those dead trees", referring to the apple trees and other trees here that do lose their leaves.

After we got back from our walk, Marie was going to practice the violin, but her D-string broke. So Marie, Helen, and I went with my dad to run a bunch of errands and get the new D-string. My dad was pretty sure that he knew where a music store was, near a post office, and we drove around there for awhile without finding it. I suggested asking at the post office, but he opted to keep driving. We checked out the place where a music store used to be when I was a teenager, but it's a Starbucks now. We completed all of my dad's errands and all of ours (a plug adapter, wipes, shampoo, etc.), and at the electric place I asked if they knew were a music store was. The lady's description sounded like the area we had first looked, then at the pharmacy I asked again, and got another similar description. So we headed back for that part of town, I again suggested asking someone, my dad again kept driving for awhile. He finally did stop at the post office to ask--but they were closed for lunch by that time. He did manage to aks somewhere else, though, and it turned out to be just around the corner. We'd driven by it before, but it's a very small shop with a well-hidden sign--I didn't even see the sign, I saw the drums in the (fairly dark) window. Mission accomplished, we then stopped at the grocery store on the way home. The prices of bread and dairy products in Cyprus had rather shocked us, being up to twice as much as in Germany, but the prices here are even higher! Even though the money wasn't coming out of my pocket, it hurt just picking up a loaf of bread that was at least four times as expensive as bread in Germany, and wouldn't taste half as good.

The next day, December 30th, was our 15th wedding anniversary. The day started with opening Christmas presents with my parents and my brother's family, then Joern and I went out to breakfast all by ourselves, to the place where we had breakfast on the first day of our honeymoon. Breakfast was the usual humongous American affair, and it was fine, but the best part was nobody interrupting!! The children were all perfectly happy at home with grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousins, and siblings, although Katie was rather driving my dad crazy. (I called home at one point, and asked how Helen was, and my dad just said, "Helen?! No problem at all. Katie, on the other hand...)

Around noon my parents left to go down to Berkeley to help prepare my other brother's wedding, and Helen cried when Grandma left. She's even saying "Grandma"--she says "mama" to me, with both "a"s the same, but Grandma is "maa-ma", the first "a" the same short-vowel sound as in "grandma".

December 31st we headed to Berkeley ourselves, together with my sister and her boyfriend, stopping on the way to buy shoes for Jacob (who had paint-stained sneakers and broken, bright-orange, imitation Crocs) and shoes and tights for Marie (who was planning to wear a white blouse and a black skirt, and only had brown tights and blue sneakers), and then ended up buying glittery shoes for Katie, too, who had perfectly nice pink sandals already. Helen sang all the way to our first stop, then slept all the way to the hotel at Berkeley Marina, which was very convenient. Joern and the boys got dressed and headed for the wedding location to help set up, and I had a shower and bathed the little girls, barely getting ready by 4:00 to meet someone else I was following.

And as this is more than long enough already, I'll save the wedding for another post. :-)

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