Friday, May 28, 2010

Spring Travel, Part 2: Sarreguemines, France

After getting over the worst of the jet lag we headed over to France, just an hour+ from my parent's home in Germany. Now maybe it's all in my head (because I do have quite the soft spot for France) but I could tell a difference as soon as we had crossed the border. It's like when we would go visit family in Costa Rica for Christmas and as fun and exciting as it was I always knew when we were back in Panama (besides literally crossing the border) and I would stick my head out the window to breathe in the air of home :o) Anyway, maybe it's not too that extent but France did look & feel different from Germany. The houses had shutters, there were even more gardens, the people were a bit more stylish - even at the McDonalds we stopped in for Bird to run on the playground (we didn't know where any were at that point). By the way, it was the first time I'd been in a McDonalds in years - I bet they don't serve cafe au lait at the ones here in San Jose.

We went to Sarreguemines first (I have to look up that spelling every time - sheesh) and hit the first playground we saw. It was so peaceful. No one around but us & we sat on a bench and ate our packed lunch and Bird made us laugh. My mom ("Gigi" as she's known to Bird) got her inner child on and had fun on the rocking cars. Made me happy. So happy that I did it too (actually it doesn't take much to encourage me...).

We did some thrifting in both Germany & France. At the flea market we went to in my parent's area Jared said "Wow, their crap looks just like our crap" :o) It's true really.

We had much better luck at the French thrift stores outside Sarreguemines & Forbach. It was there that Jared joked that we were cleaning out all the copper in France. It felt like it. We picked up so many pots & watering cans & planters (the molds were a present from my parents) that we had to ship back two large boxes! I love having these "treasures" scattered throughout our house & garden now. It's even sweeter that they were thrifted, yes!

Even though the thrift stores were in more industrial areas one had a lovely field next to it and we had fun picking daisies, tossing Bird, and just goofing off before having to make the trip home.

More of those fields of brilliant yellow rapeseed! Wish we had stopped, haha. I realize all my field pictures are from the car, flying by.

Thanks for joining me on this part of our up will be a German castle and some fun in the trees :o)

More pics from this leg of the trip at my flickr.

Have a lovely weekend!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spring Travel, Part 1: Schwedelbach, Germany

It's our first week back from our European jaunt through Germany & France. I confess that I was terrified about the plane rides with Bird. It really wasn't so bad. It helped (quite a bit) to have my iphone along - full of photos & family videos and toddler game apps. Oh, and the jumbo sized charger as well. We scored an empty seat for Bird on BOTH flights. We were so grateful.

My parents live in Schwedelbach, Germany. It's sort of a country side village. My mom is a teacher and works on the local American military base. My dad is retired and able to pursue all the creative outlets he wants to (and there are a lot). The entire bottom floor of the house (and its a big house) is his studio and is full of paintings, clock projects, model ships and cars, various furniture projects, gardening tools and experiments, etc. - he is a tinkerer. It's been so long since I've been to their house...they usually come see us since they lived in Japan for the last 7 years (we visited just once). It was SO wonderful to see them in their own element again, surrounded by their well traveled and collective style. Every where you look there are treasures. And books - so many books.

I wish I had photographed their house more. The twelve foot long Japanese fish wind socks hanging in the stairwell. Their large eyes peering at you from the second floor, reminding me of something from a Hayao Miyazaki film. The Turkish rugs in rich reds and blues. The copper kettles, pots, pans in casually assembled collections throughout the house. What I admire is that as artfully as things are arranged, they really aren't just collections and vignettes, they're useful everyday items. My eyes had never been fresh enough before to see the artistry of my parents' home, and it was really inspiring. And it was another one of those moments where you look at your parents differently. Oh, growing up.

Bird had a great time exploring the house and getting to push her "yaya" (stroller) around their neighborhood. Just down the hill is the area's glass recycling receptacle where you drop off your glass by color. Brown, green, clear - all organized, so German. It's actually pretty fun I thought - sliding the bottles through the holes and hearing them smash at the bottom :o) Bird cringed at first then got really into it.

I got to see one of my favorite teachers from way back in junior high, as well as my former school nurse. They're at the same base my mom is now and they all love to hang out together - visiting new restaurants, taking tours, exploring. It's a really small world.

At one restaurant we walked to Bird made a new friend, Josephine, who captured Bird's interest (and taste buds) by reaching from her high chair over to Bird's with french fries (pommes frittes). One after another. It was giggly and cute. And I was just glad that Bird was eating something. Then they raced around the courtyard together and made us all laugh.

One of the most picturesque parts of this area of Europe in spring are the flowering fields of rapeseed. They're just everywhere! And the yellow! It's a true lemon yellow - acidic, bright, attention getting, soul lifting yellow. Driving from the airport in Frankfurt, down to Schwedelbach, and all over into France we were surrounded by the fields of yellow. Jared said they provided the sunshine since the real sun was too stubborn to come out for most of our time there.

More photos of Schwedelbach and beginning of our trip at my flickr.

Now it's back to work for me! Working on a new design for fabric - it's fun stuff, share soon!

Have a lovely Monday and come back soon for part 2 of our trip - forging into France & exploring the forests of Germany.