July 6th, 2007

(no subject)

While on vacation in Germany, I accomplished many things. 
I ate pretzels. I ate pretzels with butter. I ate Brezeknoedel (dumplings made of pretzels). 
I drank beer. I drank beer-and-lemonade. Other than that I had water. (Except when one of my cousins brought out the Parade of Schnapps. Then I drank schnapps.)  
I read a lot of German: a horrible mystery novel (translated from English, and I couldn't possibly explain why), newspapers, traffic signs, and subtitles when my brother and I went to a Swiss movie (Swiss German is quite another animal). 

I thought about language and communication (of which writing is a branch--do you like how I made that connection there?) very, very often while I was over there. I thought about how hard I try to disguise my American accent, and yet how appealing I find accents when non-native English speakers are talking. I thought about the elegant way I used to like to write, and that speaking elegantly is probably a dead giveaway that you're not a native speaker (not that I had to worry about THAT!). I thought about the way some phrases just aren't translatable, and how nice it would be if more people around me spoke German, so I could just use those phrases that can't really be English-ized. (Don't you agree that every language should have two kinds of "yes?" German does. One for regular yes, and one for, "I'm sorry, you're wrong," as in, "I don't think we should continue the parade of schnapps, do you?" "I'm sorry, you're wrong, we definitely should!!")

And I also thought about how Germans are, and how Germany is. Allow me now to introduce you to some of the highlights of my thought process.

German people are interesting. Take, for instance, this poor Augsburg baker, who held up a loaf of bread to show the invading Swedes that Augsburg could withstand their assault for a long time to come. They shot off his arms. Now he's been immortalized in stone. Touching his nose brings you luck, which is why his poor, worn-down stone nose had to be covered in a nicely contrasting metal. (I touched it twice. Lotto winnings, here I come!)

German people are also interesting-looking. This guy had half-a-dozen compadres that stood around an Augsburg park with him. (Obviously he doesn't allow his height to impact his self-esteem.)

More with the interesting-looking. I met this guy on my way up the tallest church tower in the WORLD. Okay, it might have only been the tallest church tower in Germany. Either way, it nearly caused my hamstrings to explode. (Maybe that's why he looks like that--he might have witnessed such a scene before.)

I met some friendly people there. Most of them were animate. Here are two that aren't.

German engineering is impressive. Here's that tallest church tower. 

Part I.

Part II.

Ah! The summit!

More German engineering feats. Apparently these two canals have some kind of Romeo-and-Juliet thing going for them. (Hey, I can't explain it--I'm just the photographer.)

Never let anyone tell you Germans don't have a sense of humor. Guess what kind of store this step leads into? (Note the two discreet mice at lower left.)

They are also very open. Here is a fountain. I guess. Doing what fountains do. 

I did not take any pictures at Starnberger See, a lake where topless sunbathing is nothing to gawk at (for multiple reasons! One of those reasons is that it's so commonplace. Another is that mostly the people who choose to go topless are the ones everyone wishes wouldn't). My cousin noted that in the river that flows through Munich, it's still legal to go skinny-dipping. "But the water is freezing--it comes from the mountains, you see--so you can't really see anything good," he quipped. (See? German sense of humor.)

Here's a bunch of Georges. St. George on a wall (they like to paint on buildings. Religious paintings are particularly popular. They're also big on exterior niches, like three stories up, that contain saint statues), Georgestrasse on the sign, and my brother George making a crazy face.

They spell Elisabeth right. Please admire my pharmacy in Salzburg, Austria. (They spell Elisabeth right in Germany too. I have a whole convent in Augsburg. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, though. I guess I'll just let them carry on as they have been.)

My family is basically a bunch of happy people! (Not that I really needed to learn that lesson. I'm just saying.) On this trip I met my cousin Cornelia's Adorable Child, who was not in existence on my last trip. He loves bubbles more than any child in the history of the world. I am glad to say the Adorable Child will soon have an Adorable Sibling. (When kids come out that cute, I think couples should be required to have lots of them.) 

This photo also brings up another important lesson I learned: It is absolutely possible to get sunburned in Germany, no matter how wrong that sounds.

So now I'm back from touring castles and enjoying unending green and falling asleep on park benches (because their benches are actually comfortable! If I lie down on a park bench in Orange, I have to loop my leg over the back to keep from falling off. I guess this would fall into the German Engineering category, huh?), and am poised to dive back into revising my middle-grade fantasy novel. I guess the best thing about being out of the country for two weeks, without any notes or anything pertaining to my MS, is that now when I read it, it feels like a stranger to me--so it ought to be comparatively easy to hack it up, stitch it back together again, and ship it out! (Good thing I touched that baker's nose twice!)

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