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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

stella

Dear City and Colour,

I got my groove back today, something I was severely ignorant of missing, due in large part, to you. I went for a walk to the market today, a fairly uneventful occurrence. As I walked, I had your newest album, Little Hell, ringing in my ears, filling me with happiness. So I did what I had never done before, I said hello to people.

Prior to this afternoon, I have been terrified of greeting my fellow passersby. I was convinced they catch my American accent and instantly turn away from me. Nobody did today. I smiled effervescently and offered my most German of hellos and kept on walking. Then, I understood when one of the shop clerks asked if I wanted help and I calmly responded, "Nej, danke," a combination of my Swedish and Deutsch. I fit in!

After all of this, I'm sure, Mr. Green, that you will appreciate my need for celebratory music. I switched from your courage inducing album to Chris Brown and danced triumphantly all the way home.

Thanks for the fun walk!

engquist

Sunday, July 24, 2011

saturday afternoon

The Czech and I spent a lovely, cold, rainy July afternoon with an old friend of mine from the Brussels days. N is from this area and it is so fun to catch up with her after so many years. We returned to the "Pink Palace" and wandered the extensive park and gardens. The grounds are breathtaking and I continuously marvel at the German ability to harmoniously mesh nature with civilization. I plan on coming back here, at least once, to wander around the grounds and soak everything in.


Friday, July 22, 2011

hogsmeade

Not really. Just a drawing I've been working on. I began it before I found the art supply store with the reasonably priced ruler, so this poor house kind of lilts in multiple directions. Still tracking down some affordable watercolor paper and then painting will commence!


home

The Czech and I have been married about three and a half months. Within that time, we have lived in quite the hodgepodge of places. We started in rent-a-jail in Ohio, moved to a boat in Florida, and are now dwelling in the German countryside. For an unemployed, broke couple, we sure seem to get around.

With all of this globe trotting, we have been meeting a lot of people and coming in contact with quite the array of families. It's been interesting to me to see where people end up and how they got there. All of this has got me thinking, what determines where to raise your family?

When the Czech and I were considering marriage, we played this game on our eventful road trip down to North Carolina. We called it"What If?" Basically, each of us would take turns asking a question starting with the phrase, "What if we got married, and..." followed by whatever thought we had. Sometimes the questions were serious, dealing with financial issues, questions about fertility and numbers of children we wanted, etc. Sometimes they were silly, like, "What if we got married and went to the zoo, what animals would we see?"

It was a long, dark road between Raleigh and Charlotte, okay?

Anyway, about eighty percent of our questions dealt with where we were going to live. What if we moved to Tokyo, to France, the Middle East? We took each scenario in hand and weighed it out. By the end, all we knew is that we wanted to get married and that we probably wouldn't be living Stateside.

For some reason, this works for us, living abroad. We both feel so at home in our new German environment that we're absolutely dreading our termination date. An overseas location just feels like it for us.

I've spoken with friends who aren't as comfortable with this idea. Some who have lived abroad, and those who have chosen to remain Stateside. As I watch families, especially while abiding in Europe, I find how vital it is for the parents to be a united front in determining what is best for them and their children. For some people, this means moving to Texas, for others it means going to Guam. I firmly believe it is a matter of serious prayer and teamwork.

As the Czech and I played, "What If?" we always took into consideration the Church. Would there be a ward in that area? Is there a temple within a few hours? This came to be useful when deciding to move to Germany. Both of us felt more at ease when we realized our new home was fairly equidistant from two temples. This gave us confidence and peace of mind.

I grew up in the Detroit area, where I was the only member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in my school. Elementary, junior high, and high school. The youth group in my ward was not huge, but big enough. I was typically the only girl my age, but found strong friends in my stake who have stood by me through the years. In fact, that's how the Nurse and I know each other. Stake dances and Girls' Camp. Being the only member in school was rough, but for me, no more challenging than adolescence usually is. The challenges I experienced were unique to me and the development I needed to undergo.

When I went to BYU, I really had to learn how to be surrounded by so many members of the Church. It's not that my decisions were any different, but I was not used to the culture. See, for me and my brother, it was the best thing for my parents to leave all they knew and held dear to move to Michigan to raise us. Being a part of the LDS culture is still hard on me most days, but I am always grateful that when I move, there is always a ward family waiting on the other side.

The Czech and I still don't know where "home" will be for us, but are enjoying the continuous game of "What If?" Nowadays it has morphed into, "What if we get a job...?" We like to dream big. What if we got a job in New York, what would we do? What if we moved to Hong Kong? We still have to factor in two respective graduate programs and starting a family somewhere down the road. (Long down, don't get your hopes up people!) The game is more challenging to work through now that we are married in some respects. We have different responsibilities and obligations. Still, the core principles guide us through. Will we be there together? Is the Church present there? How close is a temple?


So now a question for you, how did you decide on where "home" would be?

Monday, July 18, 2011

midsummer evening

Cute boy,

You're still at work this evening, so I decided to go for a rambling jaunt along what has become our favorite walk. I walked past the corn fields, and the growing wheat fields and into the peaceful comfort of the trees. It took me ever so long to make the loop, as I paused every few footsteps for another photograph. I wish Sista Bear or Liver were here with their cameras. They have such distinctive eyes that are able to capture a moment on film. I, on the other hand, see something that moves me and pretend I know how to use a point and shoot camera.

When I came back up the steep hill into the neighborhood, the row houses with their long yards caught my eye, and it hit me what I want to bring back with us from Europe. Where ever we end up and we make our home, I want to take a German garden with us. There is something so cozy and perfect about the layered flowers precisely placed and manicured. I loved these gardens, more than words can describe. Do you think that a nice little German lady would let me take home one of her hydrangea plants? That would be absolutely ideal!

I love you, cute boy. Come home soon!

engquist

Monday, July 11, 2011

i love this continent

I can walk to a bakery and get fresh, delicious bread for next to nothing.
There are flower shops everywhere.
People dress well.
Public transportation. Everywhere.
Buildings that have been around longer than North America has even been known about. On every other block.
Hedgerows.
Waterfronts.
Cafes with bistro chairs on the sidewalk.
Hot chocolate and tea.
H&M.
Cathedrals.
Shopping streets, not malls.
Museums.
Walking. EVERYWHERE!
Being a matter of hours away from some of the coolest cities in the world.
Being two minutes away from a u-pick raspberry and strawberry patch of epic proportions.
Wandering paths.
Rivers.
Unbelievably fresh produce.
Fresh aire markets.
Internship opportunities.
Time with my husband.
Time to paint.
Feeling like I'm home.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

ein schloss

I have a friend!

That's the exciting part of the day for me.

Here's the exciting part for you: the friend took me to see a palace. We wandered around the gardens and enjoyed some rare sunshine. It was a great afternoon!






Monday, July 04, 2011

independence day

Dear Nana,

I can't believe it's been almost two weeks since you left and I came to see you. What a strange week that was! It began with the Czech and I getting very anxious and excited about our move, and ended with me in your backyard without you there.

The Czech was very sweet about everything, Nana. He took care of the bulk of the packing while I cried and tried to come to terms with you being gone. He told me to come see you and our family when I had scarcely imagined it would be possible. I flew out to Utah on Thursday while his entire family came to Florida for the Czech family reunion.

Do you know how much your eight boys love you? I saw seven of them during those few days and wish I could have stayed longer to share in their hugs. They are such good men. They sang for you, all weekend, but especially at the service. All of them share the love of music you and Papa instilled in them.

There was so much family around, it was wonderful! All 23 of your grandchildren, minus one grandson-in -law were there. All seven of your living sons. All seven of your living daughters-in-law. Your sisters were there, your adoptive children, nieces, nephews, friends, students, and neighbours. They all love you. We cried together and we really laughed together. The Stud and I had so much fun laughing and dancing and celebrating. We hope you don't mind. Dancing was all we could do to keep our composure when we saw the Tall Guy weep.

I came back to Florida very early Sunday morning. Mum, the Tall Guy, and the Stud drove me up. I wish I could have stayed longer, but the Czech needed me and Europe was waiting. Did you know we were moving to Germany? It happened so suddenly that scarcely anyone still knows. The Czech has an internship with a man I knew when I lived in Brussels. He's so excited, Nana! He wants to work hard and get a good job so he can provide for our little family. It means so much to me to see him so happy.

We flew to Germany on Monday, arriving early Tuesday morning. Then began the process of accumulating lost baggage and trying to figure out what time zone we were in. A week later, the Czech is about on schedule while I fear I am still catching up on sleep from my last week in the States.

The German countryside is beautiful and we feel very at home in our new surroundings. I keep rattling off wish lists of plants to the Czech that I want in our future garden after seeing the beautifully cultivated flora of our neighbourhood. At the top of the list are hydrangeas, dahlias, and a wide assortment of hostas. We are living with an American family, which means that we get to speak English at home. It is a huge blessing as neither of us speak German and scarcely had time to learn it in the three weeks before we came. There are five children, and the youngest two keep us busy. We read books together and the Czech and I get mercilessly chastised for pronouncing a German word incorrectly.

Today was the Czech's first day of work. He left early enough this morning that you would have thought he was going to seminary. His commute into the city is nearly an hour, but luckily is fairly straight forward. The children are all at school and I find myself all alone with a huge stack of laundry. After three months of pretty constant time together, having the Czech go off to work is very odd. I keep thinking how fitting it is though that he began on July 4th, or Independence Day. Since recently graduating, this is his first chance to step out on his own and make his mark on the world. Today, he is declaring his independence.

I've already made some lovely friends here and am wanting to catch up with some old ones. They have all made promises of spending time with me in our stay here. I am grateful for the companionship when I know I will now be seeing little of the Czech.

Well, the sooner I get laundry done, the sooner I can go for a walk through the hills again. I never get tired of the sight of a corn field and trees.

I love you,

engquist

Sunday, July 03, 2011

conquering the u-bahn

On Saturday we took our first trip into the city so the Czech could get used to his commute. It's lengthy, but really easy. Afterward we played along the river and got a feeling for the local scene. Consensus: we really like Germany.










Saturday, July 02, 2011

mr roger's german neighbourhood

a few snippets of the area around our new home. we have stumbled upon multiple wanderwegs through forests and fields. I'm looking forward to seeing if I can capture any of the vistas on canvas. at the very least, the area reminds me daily of Anne Shirley's Avonlea.