It has been raining in Munich for a week straight now. Well, raining isn’t the right word, exactly. The air has been supersaturated with water, so that if you walk home from the Institute you don’t feel a single drop of rain hit you, but you are drenched none the less. It doesn’t bother Brian, in fact it reminds him of Oregon this time of year. But I have lived too long in sunny climes and if I don’t see a bit of blue sky every three or four days, I begin to feel a little off my feed, a bit claustrophobic.

The weather certainly hasn’t kept me completely inside, of course. If that happened, I would quickly starve to death with the amount of food I can bring home in one load. (Who knew laundry soap could weigh so much?) But it has kept me from sitting out on the plaza watching people and enjoying the beer.

I waited until about noon on Saturday, hoping it would clear before venturing out, but I finally decided wet was in my future and I buttoned up and headed out for the large (I guess larger is really the word I want) food market on the edge of the village, where I hoped I could find a more complete selection of items I still need. In particular, garbage bags and cling wrap so I can either wrap my food or throw it out as my cooking skills dictate. Half-way there, the rain draining off my head and running in rivulets down my neck, I suddenly remembered I had brought an umbrella from Colorado with me. I bought it for a trip to England a long time ago and found it in the bottom of the suitcase when I packed. I wasn’t any closer to remembering it here than I had been in England. “I just like to be wet,” I decided, as I trudged along.

The store itself was larger than the neighborhood markets I had been shopping at, and the selection was large, although strangely selective. I can find cling wrap, but no plastic bags. I still have not found hand soap. Maybe hand soap doesn’t exist here. I continue to bathe with dish soap (a practice I might introduce to my children when I get home as a way to get them acquainted with the product). I could find thong underwear (I thought this was a food store!?) and a small reading light, but no snack-like foods except for Pringles potato chips. But--wonder of wonders--the directions on the packages here were often written in six or seven languages, one of which resembled English. (These products were packaged in China, I believe.) That’s helpful, since I can guess how many liters make a quart, etc.

I came home with one load and immediately went back for another, since I had spotted a small carton of ice-cream at the last minute which wouldn’t fit into my first load. And I wanted to get some fresh vegetables for another try at my Sunday dinner. As long as I was there anyway, I filled up a second load. Now I have about a day and a half’s worth of food here. (And, of course, I’ve already walked the five miles dictated by my new diet.)

One item I picked up I am enjoying right now, a couple of bottles of Grafen Walder Premium Pils. As soon as I picked up a bottle and saw it was plastic I had to have those beers. One of my fondest travel memories is of going to England for the first time and staying with my good friend, Tony Kehoe. He was busy cooking dinner, but needed something and sent me down to the corner store with the kids to pick it up. While I was there I purchased a six pack of Ploughmen’s Bitter, probably the worst beer in England. It was a mistake Tony never, ever let me forget. I laugh every time I think about it. And now my eyes fill with tears as I remember so many good times with Tony, who died several years ago. Tony, this beer’s for you. Prost!

A memorial beer for Tony Kehoe. Grafen Walder Premium Pils I can’t tell whether this is a good beer or a bad one right now. But it calls up a lot of wonderful memories, and that’s one great reason to drink a beer.

Big Department Stores

After I got back and dried out with a big cup of tea, I decided to call Brian and see if he could help me find a couple of items I didn’t think I could find in the village. I wanted a clock radio, just to have a bit of noise around here, and so I could get up in the morning at a regular time. (I’m listening to a light-rock station now with most of the music in English, but I also found a wonderful classical music station.) And my battery charger never did work here, although the directions specifically said it would. I just don’t trust 240 volts coming out of a wall outlet. Every time I get close to those outlets I pay attention to where my fingers are located. But if I don’t get my batteries charged soon I’ll have to stop taking pictures or figure out where to get batteries, and I just need one thing I can count on, if you know what I mean. And I also could use some cheap speakers for my computer so I can listen to music while I work.

We found the appropriate store somewhere in Munich and I made my purchases. At the end they were careful to tell me I had a two year warranty on the items. I joked to Brain that that was good because it would probably take me nearly two years to find my way back to the store. Good joke. The speakers never powered up. I have to take them back this week. Next time, I think I’ll get the next-to-cheapest brand. I’m determined to do this without Brian’s help, but I think kaput is a Russian word, not German.

Can You Say Fire?

This new apartment, unlike my first, is furnished with a coffee maker. So while I was at the market I picked up some coffee. When I got home from Munich I decide to make a pot. It worked so well, and the coffee was delicious, but I only drank one cup and turned the pot off while I did some other things around the apartment. An hour or so later, I decided I wanted another cup, but this apartment does not have a microwave. So I put the pot, which had a couple of cups of coffee still in it, on a burner to heat. And then completely forgot about it.

And, of course, then I decided I really needed to hot-foot it over to the Institute before it got dark so I could use the fast Internet connection there to download some files I had been working on. It was a couple of hours before I returned to the apartment.

Immediately when I walked in I knew something was wrong. My first thought was that someone was smoking in my apartment, it was that kind of smell. I thought perhaps there had been another mix-up at the Institute and that a visiting scientist from Greece had also been assigned this apartment. But then I saw smoke everywhere. I thought then about my new battery charger. I knew 240 volts was dangerous for batteries!

But it wasn’t exactly that kind of smell either. So I ran to the kitchen. Oh, my goodness. The coffee pot was melting onto the stove. Well, no real harm done. I had the foresight to stock up on lots of cleaning supplies. I opened all the windows and cleaned the mess up, a serious situation narrowly averted. Today you can hardly tell there was a problem. But, of course, now I can’t drink coffee until I figure out where I am suppose to go to replace a coffee maker. Sigh...

The burned coffee pot. What’s Left of the Coffee Pot Here is what is left of my lovely coffee pot. No coffee again, until I can locate the right place to buy a new coffee maker. Maybe I can pick it up at the store I have to return the speakers to, if I can ever find it again.

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