Things to Get Used to or The Agonizing Process of Getting Used to New Things

Ok, so I’ve moved to an entirely new place and away from the old familiar surroundings. Germany is the new place, Canada was the old.

While I am settling into the new reality and feel quite comfortable adjusting there are a few things that don’t come quite so easy even if they are rather normal things like … oh, say coffee for instance. I can’t find a cup to my liking anywhere and am beginning to wonder what it is that I’m wanting.

Here is a freeform list of things I find interesting to get used to:

Garbage: The Germans take their Garbage seriously as they do most things and it is sorted at home. Plastics and metal cans in one clear yellow bag, regular kitchen waste in a green bag or a blue bag. If your garbage can is full up before pickup day you can purchase an expensive garbage bag at the local city hall for 3.90 Euros making those some of the most expensive plastic bags I’ve ever come across. Paper is also handled separately and you can either sign up and pay for a paper only garbage can that is emptied regularly or you can take your own paper waste to a recycling depot somewhere in a village near you. Glass is also dealt with by the customer either by returning bottles to the store and inserting them into a vending machine that accepts the bottles and then prints up a little ticket with your refund which you can use against new purchases at the store. I like the way plastic bottles are dealt with in some of these vending machines, in goes the bottle, it is scanned for acceptability and then when it is conveyed into the bowels of the machine you hear a crunching, shredding sound et voila … no space robbing storage issues.

Coffee: Seems most of the roasts available here are either light and mild or dark espresso with crema. No French roast, Verona, Komodo, or other roasts that I’ve been accustomed to in the coffee nerd centers of the North American west coast regions. To be fair, I have not yet succumbed to the lure of the lone single Starbucks I know of in the larger city of Basel to the south of me or in Freiburg to my right (wen I face west). I have also noted that much of the coffee making is done by machines with humans pushing buttons and using ‘pads’ instead of the drip method which I prefer. Ok, that is how I like my cafeine/water combination.

Store hours: Difficult when one is in a hurry. Most notable when in a rush around mid day when lots of shops close for an hour or more. Damn you 24 hour lifestyle of the North American continent. That said it goes without saying that pretty much everything (except restaurants) is closed up tight on Sundays. That also means that shopping on Saturday can be a mean feat what with everyone needing to stock up for the weekend.

Alcohol: Pleasant change in attitudes, cheaper prices, larger selection and well … it’s mind boggling at times.

Baked goods: Also pleasant and the selections are also dangerously appealing.

Cheese: Lets just say ‘cheeses’ … way too many to list, try or wrap my head living here were Germany, Switzerland and France touch each other. And Europe being so … small other selections from other countries round out the selection nightmare. I stick to my favorites and try the unknown from time to time.

Meats: Expensive pleasure when indulged if you like your big chunks of red protein for the grill. Sausages abound in nearly endless varieties and game is abundant as well, which is something I’ll try in the near future.

Vegetables: Come from local producers or from Spain instead of Mexico as I have been used to, haha. Much is to be said of the ‘Bio/organic’ movement afoot although it can be suspect in how much organic produce etc can be produced. The area I live in is rural patterned by farm fields and villages and vineyards and this or that organic farm with produce for sale. It is a food lovers paradise to be sure.

Village shop: Yes this village has one, just one. It is not always open but has a selection from magazines to cheese to alcoholic distractions to tide you over until you can get into the next town to do some real shopping.

Hair cutting: Don’t go to the cut and go place, even if you have no other choice. Unless you like having your hair barbered by what appears to be a 12  year old girl who thinks it normal when your hair looks weird after she’s done her thing. I’ve been wearing a hat for a week now and am saving up new hair for a decent cut. I need to find an established Italian or Turkish barber shop or go for the near bald look again.

Bird song:  Yup, different birds around these parts too. Ok so the sparrows and swallows and crows are familiar, as are the robins. But the Hawks, buzzards, storks and cranes/herons and pheasants, cookoos and other feathered flying fowl are new and pleasant discoveries.

Driving: Again, another serious engagement. Drive like you mean it. Accelerate rapidly and brake late. And don’t forget, right before left (someone arriving at an indicated intersection from the right always has the right of way, unless you are on a main thoroughfare. It’s ok if you don’t understand because I’m told that the Swiss and the French who frequent these roadways don’t get it either. Hence the ‘brake late and brake hard’ maneuver. Oh, and ATV’s are ok on the road … WTF?!

Look serious: It seems it’s the accepted mean around here. I try to turn that into a smile whenever I can, even if it means the person I smiled at turns after I’ve walked by with a WTF expression on their face, priceless.

Sunday: Is a quiet day, ‘Ruhe Tag’. Today is such a day and I won’t be drilling holes into the wall to hand stuff up. But I’m not sure that I’ve not broken some tabu by cranking up the dishwasher and washing machine before eight this morning …

Summary. When you visit a place everything is new and quaint and interesting and strange and eye opening. When you move to that place it takes a while to slip into the new reality and adapt ones manners to those of the prevailing social norms.

Einen guten Tag noch 🙂

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A Canadian abroad in southern Germany

Ok, so what’s it been now, three weeks I think. Yup. I’ve been here in my new home for a scant three weeks and it feels like a few months already. Why?

Because I have  had so little time to just hang out and absorb the new culture, instead I’ve hit the ground running, looking and applying for full time work, looking at  a new rental Wohnung/apartment that my wife found for us (ironically in the same village I lived in that life time ago). Then there was the painless waiting for the residency/work permit which just arrived and I repeat myself in spending most of my free time online looking for work. That’s my full time job now, for now.

The good news is that I’ve got a tax free part time job at a nursery in the village we are moving to end of this month. However I will need much more than that to create a new normal and I can’t let up until that happens. I am not worried nor will I let it get to me. Things are happening in their own time and I am in a good place.

Cat at Rest

Cat at Rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then sometimes I am suddenly hit but the immensity of what I’m actually doing. Adjusting to a new life in a still new to me country; even after all these years away and its familiarity I am constantly reminded that this isn’t just another visit counted in weeks or months, no. As I peel back the layers of normal life beneath the wide eyed tourist curiosity of it all, I recognize the new real I have committed to.

How am I holding up? Given the circumstance I am well, I suppose. A bit more stressed out than I expected but that is a forgivable condition. How are my language skills? Ok. Good enough? Yes, and they will improve as I immerse myself in the culture and the daily life.

Given that the Fastnacht season aka carnival is in full tilt and the fools are out in inebriated force and colorful garb and dense, close knit village Umzüge/parades, it is I who at times feel like the fool in that often even the smallest of mannerisms, conversational etiquette and other such given formalities elude me. “Das macht mann einfach nicht,” (One simply does not do that) as a German saying intones when faced with something out of the expected Teutonic order of things.

And then there is the food … another subject for another entry.

When Shit Happens

Lemonade Option

We’ve all experienced it … bad timing. When things are going along rather well when all of a sudden something unforeseen forced its way center-stage and won’t exit stage left. Not immediately anyhow.

That is shit happening. That is life pinching us. That is why the saying exists ‘Shit happens’. We may not want these painful pinches or shit happening to us, but it is the yin for the yang, the balance between the good and bad things in life. It is all part of the whole. The shit happening is not the whole of our life experience and that is what should be meditated upon when you find yourself in front of the proverbial fan.

Sometimes those unexpected events turn our worlds upside down and we sometimes end up struggling like a wild kitten tangled up in a loose skein of yarn in a valiant attempt to disengage from the unpleasantness. We rage and vent, we feel frustration and other weird emotions that accompany the unexpected pit stops in life. Thing is, we do not have total control over how our lives play out. Sure, we wish we could and sometimes we think we do, but sometimes a monkey wrench finds its way into the mechanism of our existence.

Chin up people of this planet, things will always get better. The sun sets but it always rises and brings a new day, a new possibility and a new outlook. It is within us all to strive for and choose the positive even when faced with a wheelbarrow full of lemons.

Quote for this Day

When it comes to eating right and exercising, there is no “I’ll start tomorrow.”  Tomorrow is disease.
Terri Guillemets – U.S. quotation anthologist (1973-) – via quotegarden

©2012myronunrau, ©iphoneographythis2012,

Robson Street Alarm Evacuation

©2011myronunrau, ©iphoneographythis

Life lived Consciously

Life as we know it is beautiful, awkward, rewarding, freaky, easy, difficult, hard, frustrating, interesting, exciting, demotivating, intense, frightening, fun, not so fun, thrilling, chilling, amazing, eye opening and humbling. That said, I probably missed a few descriptors but you can fill those in from your own experiences.

We all go through various stages in our sojourn in this form as humans and thankfully we don’t all experience the same thing at the same time, nor do we all fit into cookie cutter shapes that make us the same. No, we all have our ups and downs. Sometimes up and sometimes down and sometimes both at the same time as circumstances dictate our experiences.

You know what they say about every cloud having a silver lining … I think there’s something to that because out of the blue, that pure light of love shone its light on me; nearly blinding me. When I accepted it and opened myself to it, my heart filled with indescribably happiness and joy. My wow moment. That love is what drives me. I like it, she rocks my world. Every single struggle, hurdle, every moment of doubt or worry is diminished and transformed into just another step bathed in that light.

I am now in an exciting stage of metamorphosis/reinvention. It is a struggle and at times physical/mentally/emotionally hard process but also a very deliberate choice to consciously renew my human experience. I once read a quote that stated that one can not rewrite ones beginning, but one can write the ending. So true and so I am setting out to write that bit, not to let it just happen, no. My inner voice (what my heart is telling me) is a gentle and constant reminder of that.

Why am I writing this? To say that there is always hope, that there is always the unexpected when things appear to become too dim. I write this to say ‘Chin up‘, you have what it takes to overcome and move forward.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Live and love like you mean it . Happiness rocks and true love … well, I wish that experience for every sentient being.

sunday stream of reality

ah … blues playing on itunes, coffee dripping through a white paper filter into my large morning cup. Lead guitar pecking at and bending those goose-bump strings, a gravely voice squealing about sundown nightlife, blue sky obscured by serious grey cloud cover, showing its ragged underside, oblivious to the invisible mountains just minutes to the north; where tall evergreen drag and tear at the dense cloud stuff.

sip of hot coffee now

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Overcast in Burnaby Alley

that’s what it looks like out there now, a black and white kind of day and that is a good thing.

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Blue Underground Vans

Side by side retro Van stylings

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Alley Sky View

Alley walks can reveal more about the neighborhood than the street view.

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Old School Style House

It is interesting how some building styles can trigger childhood memories and transport backwards in time for a few fragments of memory.

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As Seen TV

There is that weird brand name ‘Zenith’

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Gutter Weather Blues

Gutter shot of low gutter cloud

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Wall and Window over Grass

Retro sheds or garages, alley buildings can be interesting

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Insta Special Style

Blink twice and there are more of these cookie cutter shoe box houses. Devoid of character or any charm at all.

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Burnaby Apartment Building

Minimalist style design, if you don’t look you won’t see it.

©iphoneographythis  2011©myronunrau

Springing Color

Looking down can bring a smile to your face