Thursday, July 12, 2012

May-June Grab Bag

Oh dear. It's been a month since we've blogged. We're sorry! Looking back at the past couple of months, several things have happened that, while they didn't merit their own blog posts, still bear mentioning. I've collected these things here--a few pictures and a couple of bits of news. Hope you enjoy them.

On May 1 I stepped out my door at 9:30 in the morning to find Aachen bedecked in young birch trees and streamers. It's traditional to decorate a Maibaum (May tree) for your beloved and place it outside of his or her house for a May Day surprise. Usually this task belongs to men, but this year, because it is a leap year, it was the women's turn. (People told me this several times before I understood that they really meant that it was the women's turn because it was Leap Year. Isn't that an intuitive connection? C'mon, Sara!) For the first couple of days I found the Maibäume quite charming, but after 2 months and many heavy rains the ones that remain (and there are a lot of them) are pretty bedraggled.

Maibaum on our street
I took this picture with my phone! Not bad, huh?
St. Jakob with Maibaum
News item #1: Our good friends Katie and Scott Stapleton have returned to Aachen! They were here for a month back in September. Luckily for us, they decided to come back. They're American, they're Mormon, and they live fairly close by, so we get to see them a lot. On a nice day in May we went up to the top of Lousberg (Aachen's most prominent hill) together. Most of the hill is a lovely park.

Columns on Lousberg
Slacklining with the Stapletons. Look at Tyler go!
News item #2: I got a job! It's a student position at one of RWTH's institutes--IMA, or Institut für Informationsmanagement im Maschinenbau. It only took me a month to memorize that name. Daunting as it looks, the salient piece is Informationsmanagement, which is of course two words in English: information management. The position was advertised as web-development-related, but so far all I've done is work on papers, first rewriting one that was already in English and then translating another from German into English. I hope to do some web development work eventually, but for now I'm happy to help them out with my native-English-speaking skills. And I'm very happy to have something to do this summer, since I'm not taking any classes right now.

At the beginning of June we had the pleasure of hosting our dear friends from Berkeley, Ben and Barbara. They were in London for a program that's part of Barbara's master's studies in costume design, and we were thrilled that they decided to come to Germany for a few days at the end of the trip. You can read more about their visit here, since Barbara already did a nice job of writing it up and I've still got a few more events to cover. It was wonderful to have visitors! As always, we would welcome more!

Our very photogenic friends in front of the Kölner Dom
Recently we went through a sort of European rite of passage: we watched our first soccer tournament. The Europameisterschaft ran from June 8 through July 1. Germany made it to the semifinals before losing to Italy; Italy went on to lose to Spain in the final. We watched all of Germany's games and a handful of others, too. After the first game Tyler kept saying, "It was fun. But it was boring. But it was fun." I was surprised by my own tolerance for watching. It IS boring, but it's kind of fascinating, too. A couple of times we watched games online. This turned out to be very convenient because, as the feed was about two minutes behind, we always knew when Germany was about to score by the neighbors' yelling, so we could hurry over to the computer to watch the action.

Flags up during the Euro tournament. The smaller one of the right has Rosie the Riveter in the middle with the caption "Wir können es!" I don't know how I feel about Rosie being co-opted for German men's football--a little ironic, no?--but at least it's funny.
Fans walking downtown on the evening of the German-Italy semifinal. After the game a parade of four or five cars full of Italians zoomed around the city center like maniacs, waving Italian flags and playing "Ole ole" on a loudspeaker. The Germans were sad.
On June 24 Tyler sang in his first-ever choral concert! (I sang too.) Our small a cappella choir, Figuralchor, performed nine pieces in a little church up on the Lousberg. Unfortunately, it was absolutely pouring with rain that day (as it is today, grr) so the audience was smaller than it might have been. The rehearsal immediately before the concert was terrifying, but the concert itself went quite well. None of the pieces crashed and burned, though a few threatened to. We got a recording of the concert last week, and Tyler wanted to listen to it immediately. Then he listened to it again. I found this quite cute. I'm turning him into a choral singer! Muahaha.

The centerpiece of the concert was a 6.5-minute Magnificat by Schütz, by far Tyler's and my favorite song, and the song that sounds by far the best on the recording. After several attempts I have successfully embedded it below for your listening convenience. We love Schütz!

Play Song

(If playing it here doesn't work, you can right-click the link and download it to listen.)

Finally, Aachen just finished hosting CHIO, Europe's largest equestrian event, as it does every year. This is a big deal, as we learned back in January when we were looking for hotel rooms in Aachen (for a prospective visit that fell through) and found that six months out there was not a bed to be had during CHIO. The tickets also sold out months ago, too, so we wouldn't have been able to go even if we'd been inclined to fork over a whole bunch of money to watch a sport we know nothing about. (Yes, yes, we know nothing about soccer either, but watching it online is free, okay?) So the only part of CHIO we got to experience were the decorations in store windows all over Aachen.

Lots of display windows featured horse merchandise, saddles, horseshoes, and/or decorated horse statues. This one, on Jakobstraße near our house, was perhaps the ugliest. Sorry about the glare.
The Marktplatz was decorated much more tastefully, with the flags of participating countries lined up in front of the Rathaus.
So there you have it, all the happenings of note in May and June. During the last week of June Tyler went to Dublin, bringing his lifetime count of countries visited to 16, one ahead of mine. (Curses.) Between new experiments with paint and job applications (eep!) he's been extremely busy since his return, but hopefully he'll find a few moments to write an account of his visit to the Emerald Isle some time soon. Here's the short version: it rained.


  1. Loved your post! I'm known as the "grab bag" lecturer at the SOP, so I also very much appreciated the title :)

  2. Hi Meldrums! We are reading your blog....because we MISS YOU!!!


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