Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Man's (and Woman's) Best Friend

Elsie turned 2 yesterday.  

I didn't realize that until today.  Whoops.  Sorry, Pumpy, we'll give you a pork rib cake next year.  If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know I'm an animal lover..and that I love my pups.  Art was hesitant about getting a dog, but know the rest of the story.  He loves this dog so damn much it's a bit sickening.

{This is his Elsie know how people make a face when they're concentrating or writing. Art has a face for holding Pumpy.}

Since we don't yet have our own child, she is currently filling that spot.  She's given us quite the child training in some areas...occasionally wakes us up in middle of the night whining to go outside(I've trained her to wake only Art up), constant interruptions, pumpy-proofing the house, and well, she can just be downright needy.

But, I come here not to complain of my pups, but to tell you a tale of how a dog makes life swell.

I read this article yesterday about slowing down, being mindful and not living in such a manic way.  I've noticed that since I've started reading blogs and working on the computer (and getting most of my info and even watching TV on the comp.), my attention span has suffered.  I'm so used to instant gratification and having 85 browsers open at once that anything normal in real life like waiting in line or listening to a babbler..I'm like, can I click 'Next' or minimize this person?  ha.  Terri.  

But, seriously, I know most of you check your e-mail constantly and if you're on Facebook and Twitter, then you have extra problems. It makes us all a little crazy and manic.  Scientific studies have shown that things like receiving a new e-mail increases your dopamine levels a bit, and so it really is like a mini crack addiction.  People browsing Pinterest are huge druggies just steps away from rehab.  I'm just saying.

Ok, so how am I relating this to a dog?  (off on a little tangent there)  I think one of the best qualities of pets (and I know children are this way) is that they have enthusiasm for the most mundane things. They are fun to watch.  And they aren't cyber at all.  Elsie actually shuts my laptop screen down with her paw sometimes.  She means business.
She also requires at least two walks a day and while Art and I are usually reluctant to jump up and take her, it ends up being our favorite time of day.  Many times we end up on an hour walk around the city (Graz is pretty small) and talking about things we wouldn't necessarily talk about if we were at home zoned into our computer or TV screens.  

We get sheer joy out of watching her jump into the Mur river to get a stick.  

Is that crazy?  Will we be psycho crazy parents?  Do people in the US go to parks to hang out anymore?  I know we don't in Houston.  I love walking through the park on the weekend here and seeing people scattered about playing badminton, frisbee, doing yoga, reading or mugging down.

Art and I often sit down in the grass here and mug down.  Not really.
So, moral of the story: having a dog adds years to your life and definitely life to your years.  On average, pet owners get more exercise too and dogs are good snugglers and are always right there licking your tears when you're sad. 

So, do yourself a favor.  Adopt a pet today. :)
(but read the warning label that comes with English Cockers.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Guesting at The Rigolosos

Molly was so kind to ask me to guest post for her blog while she's away.  A true guest poster writes a new post for the readers, but I'm terri and was crunched for time, so Molly took my Expat Inquiries interview (I interviewed myself..what a sad life I live) and posted it up here

Even though you've heard my schtick before (I did throw an unseen dirndl pic in there), go check out Molly's blog.  She and her husband, Justin, are on their own adventure: moving to a new town every 6 months to a year and she documents it all with her wondey writing and photos.  
Current stop : NYC. 

p.s.  It's cooled up about 15 - 20 degrees since I last wrote and it's marvelous!  Sorry, Texans...don't read.  You can bust me up come wintertime when I'm sad, cold and sans sunshine.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Summer Slowly Subsiding

Not much to report over here besides the fact that we're slowly melting.

Yes, I know it's hot other places, esp. back in Texas, but AC really helps and Austria ain't got none. Summer's not really my favorite.  It's too slow and everyone's either vacationing or back in their home country.  I like the action and routine that comes with fall.  Although the constant sunshine of the past several weeks has been nice, I'm ready to take on some crisp fall days and a light sweater or two.

I've been filling my days with design work, reading, walks with Art and Elsie (at night in the cool) and the mandatory once or thrice weekly get-togethers with friends.

Working from home has its obvious benefits, but it can be really isolating and all-consuming if you're not careful.  There's no clear distinction between work and rest/play, so you have to be diligent in making your own routine and schedule and stickin' to it. 

I do like the fact that I can meet the girls for a nice rooftop coffee in the afternoon:

Hadn't been to the new K&Ö rooftop café and I was quite loving it.

Cooled off with some pool volleyball at Shyla's:

Shyla's not messing around with pool time:

And, that's a wrap, folks.

Next weekend's a nice getaway to the wine region.  It best cool down!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Recent Designs



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Expat Inquiries: Juliette in Germany

Juliette and I met through the blogworld way back when I first started blogging.  She's got a great blog full of crafts and creativity and can do something I envy: sew.  It's crazy to think we've never actually met...maybe someday?

Where do you live?
- I live in a little university town right in the middle of Germany. It's pretty cute here (we have a great little 'old city'), but it rains a ton. It's also really hilly here. There are two little 'jokes' about our town:
1) It's a university that has a town, not a university town (said because e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. here revolves around the Uni!).
2)There are more stairs in the city than in the houses themselves (I totally could believe this!).

{Juliette's university town}

How long have you lived there? And is this your first home away from the States?
- We just hit the four year mark this month, wow! I can't believe it's been so long, but at the same time it's like nothing. This is my first long-term home outside of the States, however different chapters of life have seen me living 3-6 months in other countries, even Germany (!).

Where are you originally from?
- This is always a funny question to me considering how much my family moved when I was growing up, but I have aspects of home attached to the South, California, and the Boston area where I attended college and stuck around for years afterward.

What brought you to Germany?
- I married a wonderful German man. =)

What do you do for a living?
- I'm a freelance editor for English-language publications. The bulk of my income comes from helping medical researchers polish their manuscripts before submitting them to journals like Nature, Science, The British Medical Journal, etc. I do anything from basic copy editing to almost full developmental editing. However, nobody likes to be too house-bound, so I mix it up by teaching English at our local university's Modern Language Institute, teaching a "Scientific English Writing Lab" for PhD students at the university, as well as working with a few private clients. I love being my own boss and I hardly miss a thing about working in an office like I did back in the US!

I also blog, but not for money. It's my creative outlet and makes me feel very left brain/right brain about my life....for better or for worse! Learning how to sew overseas has been an interesting challenge for me, but, like cooking it's fun in the way that organized mess tends to be!

{Juliette (far right) meeting fun fabric Queen Amy Butler (center) earlier this year in Germany at a trade show}

Do you speak German fluently? If so, how long did it take you to learn? Do you find it to be an easy language?
- German and I have long been acquainted. I took German in high school (back before the spelling reform) and again in college and had to re-learn some things post-spelling reform. Once we moved here I had to take classes again. After not being in school for nearly 10 years, going back to school for German was pretty anticlimactic, however, I did end up taking the Zertifikat Deutsch exam and getting a decent score, phew! German is HARD. The der/die/das thing is just KILLER. I'm technically fluent, but not yet proficient. I keep telling myself I'll improve with time...

What are the people like?
- If you mean the Germans, I like to call them the Über-Yankees (my husband finds this funny and offensive at the same time). The people in northeastern USA are called Yankees and are known for being a tough bunch. Since I lived in the NE area during my last 10yrs in the US, Germany was just a more intense version of the same sort of people. My experience with Germans is similar to my experience with Yankees: if you happen to be able to crack through the outside you'll find a pleasant inside. The other nice thing about Germans is that if you finally make a friend (it can take a while), you'll generally have a friend for life. People aren't mean here or anything, they're just polite and reserved.

How long did it take until you felt mostly adjusted?
- This is strange for me. I think having moved so much growing up, as well as having spent time abroad in the past, really helped me transition well. However, there are some situations and life moments where I really miss the US!

What were some of the hardest things/aspects to adjust to?
- Three things that never cease to annoy me here are:
1) There is no space available to bag your groceries at the grocery store. I don't mind bringing my own bags and bagging my own groceries, but I DO mind when you don't give me ample space to do so. I also mind when the people behind me glare and imply that I'm not getting out of their way fast enough. Chill already!

2) Patient privacy in medical situations. This is probably aggravated by the fact that I worked at one of the largest hospitals in Boston before moving here, but doggone if it doesn't just make me mental! From simple things like not having privacy screens between patients when you have to share a room at a hospital to seeing a semi-conscious person wheeled in on a gurney to wait in the hall where everybody can see them (while waiting for their own Dr. appts)...yeah, not cool. If I have to be a patient I'm already out of my comfort zone and I don't need it to be made worse by lack of privacy. Of course my definition of privacy is based on where I was brought up, but that's what makes it an 'adjustment' here.

3) The 19% sales tax on most things. No wonder Germans love eBay like Americans love Craigslist.

What are some things/aspects you don't miss back home?
- I don't miss seeing the gajillion plastic bags at every store, overflowing in my pantry, and perpetually woven into random chain-link fences. I don't miss the stress/sadness/worry that came over me when people lost their jobs...and their health insurance. I also don't miss the prescription medication advertisements everywhere or the SUVs that most people really don't need to be driving. I definitely don't miss the consumerism. I know America is a capitalist society and that brings a lot of benefits, but can we all just chill a little?

What are your top three faves about your current city or country?
1) The, yeah.

2) People are more balanced here in terms of stepping away from work. In Germany the minimum amount of vacation you get at a full time job is 24 days. Again, that's the minimum, not the average (don't quote me, but I'm pretty certain about this). Even with those regulations Germany still does awesome in terms of world finance. And yes, people actually do take those vacation days and use them to get away. Props to them.

3) Healthcare. I might not like the privacy stuff, but -generally speaking- people are not financially scared to go to the dr. or hospital. Many medical procedures here cost 1/3 to 1/8 of American rates.

In what areas do you think moving abroad has helped you to grow?
- I once read that being an expat accelerates your brain's creative problem-solving section and I totally believe that's happened with me. I've been able to become my own boss and start to try and find my niche both in work and creative efforts. 
(Love this were a huge encouragement and help to me in starting my blog design business!)

{So cute: felt cookies (Leibnitz! fave), cake and table linens Juliette made for her niece.}

Fave places you've traveled in Europe?
1) Tallinn, Estonia! It's cheap, the people are friendly, and it's really pretty and has tons of history. We want to go back sometime and explore the countryside and coastline.

2) Stockholm is pretty cool if you've got money to blow (and it will go fast there), but Finland was just awesome. Why does nobody write about Finland? It's gorgeous, chill, has amazing design stuff, and Helsinki is an Art Deco/Nouveau lover's paradise! (and it's a short ferry ride away from Estonia) Finland is totally unique from other Scandinavian countries; it's like it takes Sweden, Norway and DK's cool aspects and puts its own fingerprint on it all. It's also not as jammed as those countries, which is nice.

Thanks, Juliette, for such great and thorough answers.
Loving your Über-Yankees term!
The differing mentality in vacation time between here and the States is one we discuss often with friends. I think know people are more productive when given breaks...I mean, the Germans are probably the most productive people in the world.  It's a reason some of my North American friends consider living in Europe forever.  It makes a big impact on the quality of life.  (And let's not even get started on maternity leave.)