Friday, June 12, 2009

we're still here!

Meaning that two ways, actually.

One, I still exist, though I haven't blogged in over a week. Please do keep checking back occasionally!

And two, we're still in Berlin. If I count right, we are here for seven more weeks and a day. Done lots of things I've wanted to write about but how to manage? Let me quickly start backwards and say a few things, then sign off to bike out for little breads (how do you say Br├Âtchen in English I wonder? rolls I guess is the closest but of course that ain't it), marmalade, some melon - for the hubby turning 50 as soon as he wakes up this morning. 

Last night I dragged said hubby to a relay race, that is to say months ago we had both (or rather each - I was in the States on my March visit and he was here in Berlin and we responded separately to the invitation) signed up for a spot on the 5 x 5km relay race that his institute was participating in as an institution. Some of the fellows at his institute signed up thinking we each had to run only 1 km but like true troopers they trained - including a couple who are grandparents - and all finished and did fine. Hubby was very grumpy ahead of time and started the day before saying he didn't want to go, there was supposed to be rain, he wanted to e-mail around and see who else didn't want to go because only one person couldn't drop out but if 5 did they could just take out one of the relay groups entirely. I told him that was uncool. (I just want to say I totally did not dragoon him into it in truth: I had asked him several times in the months and weeks preceding if he was really prepared and wanted to do it and he always said yes - so yesterday then when he suddenly flipped I did kind of drag him.)

Well, the weather was outrageously changeable yesterday - every half hour changed from lovely blue sky to threatening threatening or even raining, dribbling or hard. But I bought a huge tote bag full of breads and fruits and potato chips and chocolates (Felix and other children were coming to hang out and be there), and we went off but the S-Bahn, unheard-of-ly, arrived and then sat and didn't keep going, and then there was an announcement that for an unpredictable amount of time it would continue to sit because of track issues at the next station - and finally we called Felix who was in a car with our neighbors and fellow fellows and their son Peter, his buddy, coming to the S-Bahn also, and long story short our neighbor Don drove us all there, dropped us off (his wife Cindy was also running) and went to park.

And longer story short, it never did rain, there was wonderful camaraderie, there were 5 teams of 5 in our group and the entire staging area was jampacked with people from lawyers' offices, hospitals, small businesses, huge businesses, who knows what else, who had fielded teams for this relay race, and the kids sat or stood on blankets and played and talked, and everybody ate food, and we mingled with the staff of our institute in a way beyond what we usually do, and hubby was glad he went and I was glad he was glad (last race as a 49-year-old; probably also first race since he was maybe 13?), and he did 5K in 28 and I in 35 minutes and then he, Felix, and I walked for maybe half an hour or forty minutes (my pedometer would say if I wanted to go up and get it -- it was miraculously found behind Felix's bookcase about 3 days ago one day after I'd finally bought a cheap replacement I wasn't happy with but that's another story) because all the buses were canceled in the area because of the race (Peter's family was going off in another direction afterwards), so we finally took a taxi driven by the grumpiest man alive at first who wouldn't answer hubby's thrice-repeated question about whether the taxi was available, and who forgot to turn on the taximeter for three or four minutes, but who finally warmed up and started speaking a mixture of English and German to us (which is what we were sort of speaking anyway) and was, if not positively giddy, at least a perfectly warm and friendly man by the end. When he belatedly turned on his taximeter and swore under his breath I thought: this taxi driver is so out of it - is he maybe high? And for an instant I thought how funny, but then I thought no, hubby, younger son and I are sitting in a large lethal weapon being driven by this man - how funny is that not?

We got home safely, the ride was quite a bit cheaper than it would otherwise have been (16 euros for the record including generous tip for around here; we occasionally spring for taxis, our theory being that we don't have a car and it's way cheaper to have monthly bus passes and occasionally spring for taxis when we really want or need them).

I have got to run! 8:04 and still my oatmeal to make and eat and get the breakfast things for the others so we can eat and get out in time to get lovely foodstuffs to serve the larger family (mother-in-law, sister-in-law, four more in sis-in-law's family, nephew, nephew's girlfriend) for a birthday lunch.

Love y'all, and I'll be trying to post on the countdown: 7 weeks and a day in Berlin to go. Should I sign up for the 10K run that's the evening of August 1st, given that we fly back to Bloomington August 2nd? Just wondering . . .


elena said...

Just want to say, I'm loving all the personal reflection on your site, the stories and the glimpse of the differences of family life over there in Berlin, and back in B'town. Thanks for being "still here'!

hoping for better things said...

Thanks, Elena. As always: wouldn't ever have been "here" at all without you!