A German moment

After the darkest winter and coldest spring on record, plus snow for Easter, I had a real German moment. On Monday, the sun was shining and it was a whopping 6°C (43°F – that’s not a lot where I come from). So what did Toby and I do? Take the convertible out for a spin, naturally!

Top down, beanies, down jackets. Ah, it’s really starting to feel like spring around here… Not.


March Madness

It’s been a hard week of weather to deal with in Düsseldorf. Spring, which the budding trees, the chirping birds, and I have been patiently (why lie?) waiting for, is taking her sweet time. First it looked like there was hope – the sun was shining, and I was giddy at the sight of my own shadow. And with good reason. It was “the darkest [German] winter of all time.” (See? There’s more to my weather drama than the fact that I’m an Arizona girl through and through!)

Then we had another bout of snow, or Schnee.

Schnee Auto

I appeased myself with trips to the coffee house and with cozy pots of tea at home.

Coffee house

Cozy tea

Then we had snow and sun. Oh, what a glorious combination – light and color in the world again!

Sun and snow

The crocuses and those who dared sit outside at the coffee house despite the freezing temperatures weren’t showing any weakness.

Crocuses and snow

Outdoor coffee

Then the snow was gone, and Toby and I took advantage of a sunny day with a long walk along the Rhine.

Rhine in March

Yesterday it was so nice that I actually rode my bike to work without a beanie, my hair blowing in the wind (something I haven’t felt in longer than I care to remember). This is in stark contrast to my winter riding gear, which I’ve taken to calling the Reverse Mask of Zorro.

Reverse Mask of Zorro

Too bad we’re back to a lovely combination of rain and snow again today. Somebody stop the madness!


Hello Spring!

Today I saw my shadow again, literally. The sun was shining after what seems like months and months of nothing but shades of gray. I’m taking it as a sign to get out of my winter slumber and to finally give myself the chance to jump over my own figurative shadow again. I’ve been far too complacent for far too long. It’s time to do the things I love again, like writing, organizing my pictures, planning trips, and nurturing relationships with family and friends. It’s also time to face the things that are occupying my mind head on, like that pesky to-do list, my career path, my own fitness and well-being, and being the best wife and partner in crime possible.

Coincidentally, I also just had another birthday. The timing is good – spring energy plus a symbolic new beginning. It’s time to make this the year of greatness!

Hitchhiking to Spring

A call home usually consists of my mother telling me how warm and sunny it is in Phoenix, and me answering with, “I don’t want to hear it.” I’m not being mean, I really just don’t want to know what I’m missing while I’m sitting here desperately waiting for the sun to shine for longer than 10% of my waking hours. Every morning I wake up, full of hope that Spring has finally arrived, only to open the drapes to another day of gray and rain. Do you know how many times I’ve gotten wet while riding my bike to work (yes, my new work!) in the last week? It’s certainly more than this Arizona girl is used to.

In the hopes of enticing Spring to come out and show a little thigh, we spent the last few weekends giving our apartment balcony a makeover. Not only did the mother-in-law and I buy brightly colored flowers last time she visited that make me smile every time I see them, but Toby and I also added some shrubbery to the window box – one that looks nice and was not too expensive (good for you if you got the movie reference!).

Funny – in Arizona I used to do rain dances in the street when I was a kid. Now I’m turning to my green thumb to get Spring’s attention and chase away the rain. I hope I’m better with balcony plants than I am with basil….

Wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful Spring!

Exciting times

It’s been a while. A lot has been going on. All good. Where to begin…where to begin…?

We got back 10 days ago from a fabulous trip to Egypt for an escape from the end of winter. Go figure – the day we boarded our plane, it was sunny and warm. Isn’t that just how Life toys with you? No matter though. The five days we were away were just what the doctor ordered – we soaked up the sun, read our books, hung out with Toby’s parents, slept too long, and ate lots of food. Perfect!

When we got back, the sun was still shining. I survived my first Düsseldorf winter (let’s ignore the fact that it was a pretty mild one aside from the two weeks of -10°C weather), and now spring is in full force! While the next few days are forecast to be cold and rainy (just a glitch in the system, I’m sure), it’s turning out to be amazing. The view of the Hofgarten from our living room windows lets us watch the approach of spring. The park gets greener by the day as new trees decide it’s time to get their photosynthesis on. It’s all so fresh and alive, and I can’t help but feel more fresh and alive too.

Another happy side effect of spring and that funny thing known as Daylight Savings Time is that it now stays light until almost 8pm. It makes the day so gloriously long! Toby and I have been taking advantage of it by adding a morning bike ride along the Rhine to our daily activities.

And now for the biggest news – I am no longer a bum. Yes, I have landed a job! I had an interview the day after I passed my fitness trainer test, and by the end of the interview I had a job at one of the local gyms. And all of this within the last four days, mind you. I know, right?!

Now comes the real test – will Christina like her newly chosen career path? Oh, such a big question for a smart girl who’s dumb enough to try to doubt herself….

Exciting times, indeed!

Park bench etiquette

The sun was shining today, so I played hooky for an hour this morning to wander around outside. Armed with my camera and my new Kindle (birthday present from Toby!), I walked to the park to take some pictures of the crocuses and to dawdle a little in the sun. The feel of it on my face was heaven!

But I did come up with an interesting question – what is proper park bench etiquette when it comes to a single bench, positioned ever so perfectly in the direction of the sun, that already has one occupant on it? The older gentleman was sitting at one end of the bench, and I strongly debated sitting myself down on the other end. But, he had his eyes closed and I didn’t want to disturb him, so I wandered a little more and found my own, unoccupied bench, almost as perfectly positioned.

And then I pondered. Wouldn’t his choice to sit at one end of the bench indicate that he was open to sharing his spot in the sun? I’m only concluding this because I’ve seen people sit smack in the middle of a bench – a rather clear indicator of the desire to be left alone. It’s an important consideration due to the fact that when the sun does finally shine here, the people come out in droves to soak it in. I.e., there’s a very high likelihood that my bench of choice will be at least partially occupied.

As with anything related to learning and integrating oneself into a new culture, the best method is probably to observe, mimic, and then adapt the behavior to suit your own personality. It worked for three days of Karneval partying….