Thursday, July 28, 2005

Jason and I went to a new restaurant called Cork the other night. We sat at the bar and had a few glasses of wine and steak frites, which were delectable. The beer selection is terrific and they have a nice list of wines by the glass as well. We caught up on his family, my travels and our new home. We hadn't had a chance to sit down and really bullshit since his visit to Munich. Speaking of which, today at lunch with him and Sharon Miller, Jason chastised me for not memorializing his visit to Munich in this blog. For the record, his trip to Munich was one of the highlights of the year, if somewhat of a drunken blur. He came with his brother Tyler and we had a blast. Jason is a bad influence on me. When I am with him I start drinking like I am in a contest. But it's fun and we always have great chats. We're fairly simpatico and since both of us are major windbags we have long circuitous conversations that are either deep and thoughtful or complete and utter nonsense. I like him a lot and his friendship has become important these past few years. To my mind, he and his wonderful wife Jen are keepers.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

We found a great set of tables and chairs at Pottery Barn last night which we are fairly sure we are going to buy. Looking at this stuff gets very overwhelming after awhile and we like this stuff so we think we'll just go for it!

We stopped in to see John and Tom last night as we were near their place. We ended up staying awhile, drinking some beer and cadging some of their food. We sat in the magnificent garden watching the fireflies. It turned out to be a really nice time.

This morning we stopped by to see John and Steve who are in the midst of having their entire kitchen remodeled. It looks great and so does their entire house and yard. Their garden is amazing too. John has an unique touch. It's been good stopping by to see them a bit more often. My relationship with John goes back thirty years. We have been extremely close for most of that time. I love Steve too, because he makes John happy, but also because he is kind and sweet and funny as hell. I am happy Chris is getting to know them better and my other good friends as well. Everyone seems to like him, which tickles me.

I have also been seeing a little of Diane and Marilyn, and each visit leaves me feeling like I am very blessed and lead a very charmed life. Marilyn's illness has taken away most of her ability to move and her speech as well, but her mind is completely the same. She's the same old Marilyn I have always known. We've laughed and we've cried and though it is so heartbreaking, I feel very privileged to have had some amazing conversations with her lately (through the computerized device she uses to communicate). We've had some brutally honest talks about life and we've had some silly ones as well in which she asked for all the gossip around town! I am also uplifted by her courage and tenacity and Diane's as well. I love these women. It's not fair, but I am trying my best to glean something from their terrible experience. It's all about living in the moment, being good, kind and fair to people, and letting them know much you value their presence in your life. It is that easy.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

We are overwhelmed and exhausted from appliance and furniture shopping. We know we need a stove as the one which is currently in the house lacks a working oven. We also need a dishwasher as there is none at all. The big question at the moment is whether or not to splash out on a refrigerator. Of course I want to plunge in and do it, but Mr. Cautious is whinging about it so a decision has not yet been made!

We also need a dining room table and chairs. I gave my old one away to Allison and Marcus when I moved to Germany. It had been a cast off from Gina and John, who had gotten it when John's grandmom died so it has made the rounds! It was perfectly serviceable and we had some great times around that table, but I wanted a new one more suited to my tastes hence the give away to Ally and Marcus.

We're off soon to Pottery Barn, strangely enough at Chris' suggestion! Surprisingly, he likes the stuff there and so do I. So we shall see. Update later.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Chris is at Dell in Texas this week and will be again next week so I have been at loose ends a bit, but it's okay. I think a bit of absence and solitide is good for a relationship. Tom Bullock called me and asked me to fill in next week for the woman who replaced me, Jeannette, and of course I said yes. I am looking forward to it as Tom is one of my very favorite people ever, and I love the other guys in the office. It will be fun and will keep me off the streets so to speak...and out of the stores!

Everything is progressing according to schedule with the purchase of the new house. Yesterday we had the inspection and since Chris was away, Joanna came along, which was fantastic! She is a property manager for the government and has incredible knowledge, which really was a plus in this situation, where I am, I must admit, a clueless nitwit. So it was great to have her along. Our realtor, Mary Margaret Master was there also and I spent a bit of time with her this morning as well. I met her at coffee awhile ago and immediately liked her because she is warm and genuine and a lot of fun, but as time passes and I get to know her on a more personal basis, I realize how much of a good and principaled woman she is. I really like and respect her a great deal. She is top quality. It is so nice to have her working with us on this house. She's fantastic at what she does, but in a very easy going and reassuring way. It's been a great and fun experience thus far, thanks in large part to Mary Margaret.

One more thing. After seeing the house again yesterday, I love it even more! All good, as my sweetheart would say.

Monday, July 18, 2005

I just got back from a walk through lovely Moorestown with Henry, which was godawful because of the stinking heat and humidity. I have been getting up at the crack of dawn to walk and for the most part it's been great, but the past few days have been unbelievably sultry. I miss Munich weather big time. It rained cats and dogs yesterday and you would have thought the temperature would go down at least a few degrees, but not so. It's like a gigantic sauna out there. Poor Henry is collapsed in a huge heap and panting his head off, but refuses to drink water. He's a nice dog, but boy is is he dumb.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

After of years of living in this area, I just discovered the Asian grocery store on Route 70 in the D & Q Plaza. It is the best I have ever been to, including those I once frequented in Philly's Chinatown. I was like a kid in a candy shop. It was that good. There was an amazing array of fruit and vegetables, sushi made before your very eyes, a beautiful display of very fresh looking fish and seafood, meat, poultry and all sorts of specialty goods. I picked up all my Asian staples such as Vietnamese fish sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and a bunch of spices. They also have some other ethnic oddities, which I think is fun. Great discovery!

As an aside, I do have to say that the Asian store where I shopped in Munich had a great supply as well, but it did not have as much fresh food as this one. It was mostly spices and such with a few fresh items like ginger, coriander, galangal and other specialty vegs. But worth a look if you are in Munich - at Hohenzollernplatz.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I took Gina's kids Lily and Jack to see La Marche de l'Empereur, (March of the Penguins) today at the Ritz and we all loved it. It's a National Geographic documentary about the breeding habits of Emperor penguins in Antarctica. Beautifully filmed in the most hostile environment on earth, this film is simply miraculous with some truly tragic scenes as well as some triumphant and happy scenes. There were some moments which I found jarring, namely several scenes in which the penguins died, but they were natural and not at all violent. We discussed it afterwards over ice cream sundaes and the kids handled it fine, though they both thought it was sad. It was a realistic depiction of nature and I think they are old enough to appreciate it as such without being traumatized. They are amazingly bright and charming kids who are very sensitive and aware. They are absolutely Gina and John's children in every sense. It was great to spend time with them alone and I look forward to doing the same soon with Kerry and Justine.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

We went out to a local dive bar last night with my sister Gina and her husband John and had a pile of chicken wings and a few pitchers of beer. It's nice to be able to pick up the phone and make plans and see my family immediately. That is something I have missed.
I had been worried about finding a job when I returned home, but thus far have been lucky enough to have four or five people come after me about working for them, which is extremely flattering to put it lightly. I have missed working this past year or so and definitely plan on getting a job, but I wanted to settle into the house first and do a bit of painting and revamping first. But I have now changed course and will entertain all offers and then make a decision....

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Getting me, Chris and Henry out of our place and to the Airport was a massive feat. We had to hire a gigantic van to transport us because we had excess baggage and were also carrying Henry's huge crate. Checking in was a trip because in addition to Henry, there were five other large dogs at the departure desk. It was pandemonium, but we managed to get him checked in. The flight was largely uneventful and actually really good, but the funniest thing ever happened when we touched down in Philly and the pilot cut the engines - all you could hear was the sound of dogs barking! Very amusing.

I was glad to be reunited with Henry at baggage and judging by his wild reaction, he was relieved to see me as well. The Philly Airport was insanely busy due to the fact that Live 8 was happening in two days. It tooks hours to get out of there and we were happy to arrive at our new temporary digs in Moorestown.

The deal for the lovely home we contracted to buy on Morgan Avenue in Haddon Township fell through for various reasons, but we began searching for a new home almost immediately upon arriving in the States. With the deft assistance of our wonderful realtor, Mary Margaret Master, we found a lovely home on Colonial Avenue in Haddonfield, which we love even more than the other place. It is a charming place on an oversized lot full of mature plantings. It is currently owned by a friend. Initially, I felt funny about it, but then just decided to make it strictly a business transaction and nothing more. I was fine about moving to Haddon Township because it is a nice town and the neighborhood in which we would have lived is particularly charming, but have to say that I am thrilled to be moving permanently to Haddonfield. It is a beautiful town, probably the loveliest in South Jersey, and has a great community spirit. I lived there for almost ten years prior to moving to Germany and was overwhelmed by how many friends I made there and how many people had been kind to me. It is a great place with spectacular tree lined streets, unique homes and a pretty downtown area. We will be in a particularly good spot, just off Kings Highway in the historic distruct, a stone's throw from the shops and the legendary library! Yippee!

Goodbye Toytown

Leaving Munich almost killed us. We started our round of farewells just after we returned from the States in May, and made our trip in France part of the official goodbye tour. It was fun but ultimately exhausting and damaging to our livers!

We had our official leaving party on June 18th and it was a ton of fun. We went to Murphy’s, a pub Chris spent a lot of time in before we got together. We ordered a wooden keg of Augustiner and invited our closest friends. It was fun. Chris’ sister Maxine flew in from the UK, which was really nice. The nicest part of the evening was when Chris received a really lovely Mass krug from his great friends Brian, Steve and Lisa, Pete, Gary, Andy and Nicola, Greg and Rita and Steve. It had a really sentimental inscription engraved on the lid and it actually reduced him to tears. I was really happy they gave him something special. He has spent a lot of time with them over the years and adores them, as do I. They were like family to him for a long long time. They also got me a special gift of a Bavarian cookbook, which I thought was really thoughtful and very sweet. Lisa was at the helm and you could tell by the choices she made. Planty also made a poster of Chris which was absolutely great and made everyone smile and laugh out loud. It was fantastic. I will put it up as soon as Planty sends me a copy.

We also had a great night at Lise's place watching the charming Australian film The Castle and drinking mass quantities of wine. It was our last chance to see Graham, who is one of my favorite Munich people. He is smart, funny and really nice. He has been kind to me since day one and we hit it off like a house on fire. Chris has known him forever and loves him too. We love getting early Satuday morning texts from Graham with pithy summaries of his wild Friday nights. Go Sunshine!

We spent a lot of time the following week just pulling things together for the move, a nightmare if ever there were one. I am fairly organized but Chris is allover the place. We almost came to blows a few times. He gets annoyed when I nag and I just cannot keep my mouth shut. We sort of just agreed to disagree.

Cal and Ingrid had a barbecue on the Saturday prior to leaving for the Fantasy Football League participants - us, Lise and Richard, Cal, Planty, and Gary and Bev. Since Ingrid was not a player, they invited some otehr non footy types along for the ride - Martina, Jen and Paul and Pete. It was one the nicest times I had in Munich. Cal and Ingrid's place, high above the city on Ainmillerstrasse, is most amazing with huge terraces covered in plants and trees including a Japanese maple and a raspberry bush bearing fruit! We could see three quarters of the city and all the way down to the Alps. We had a great time and were there for hours eating food we'd all bought and drinking Cal and Ingrid out of house and home. Planty had an awards ceremony for Fantasy Football that was absolutely sidesplittingly funny, with prizes of cheap plastic metals for all sorts of categories, a wooden spoon for Lise's team Bouncebackabilities for coming in dead last, and a ceramic krug personally decorated by Planty in the shape of a soccer ball for Chris, whose team Interracionale, ran away with the title. I won for best newcomer. Chris got a special award for finishing his MBA. It was like the Olympics with the awarding of the medals. Absolutely hilarious! All that was missing was the playing of the national anthem. It was a wonderful night and we didn't get in till after two.

We had a last curry at Swagat with Lisa and Steve, Andy, Brian, Gary and Steve Duffy. It was a kind of subdued night, but very nice. I think Chris had expended all of his emotion with that gang at the leaving do. No one was eager to repeat the drunken blubbering!

Our last night was spent at the Georgenhof, a great Bavarian place on our street. We had a huge motley crew - Jen and Paul, Lise and Richard, Bev and Gary, Alan and Annette and family, Cal and Ingrid, Pete, Simon and Anna. It was a nice night and our last chance to drink Augustiner which we took rather too much advantage of.

It is hard for me to leave people – and I cry easily so there were a lot of tears during the final days especially when saying goodbye to Lise and Richard, Jen and Paul, Bev and Gary and Pete among others. Everyone had been wonderful to me in Munich, but I had grown very close to certain people and my friendships with people like Lise and Jen and Paul really strengthened during my time there. I also felt very sentimental when saying goodbye to Alan and Annette who just had a baby daughter, Lucy. Living in Munich would not have been as great if I hadn't been so fortunate to have such good friendships with people who were unceasingly generous of spirit.