Oh Bwunhiwda, you’re so wuvvwy…

So this semester, I’m taking a German Literature course, entitled Knights, God and the Devil.  We had our first class meeting last Tuesday and I’m completely enthralled by what we are currently reading: Das Niebelungenlied. Even though I majored in German, somehow I missed this seminal work of German literature.  It’s absolutely fascinating to me, about knights, kings, jousting tournaments, a magic cape and, oh, yeah, an incredibly strong female character named Brünhild.  This image of her is from an 1897 postcard by the artist Gaston Bussière.

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Before really studying Brünhild and the Niebelungens, most of what I knew about the story (which, admittedly, was very little) came from Richard Wagner’s operatic Ring Cycle.  His tale diverges from the legends; also, Brünhild and some of the other major characters like Siegfried appear in other Nordic sagas, but they don’t always play the same role.

In Das Niebelungenlied, Brünhild is a woman of astounding power.  She happens to be quite beautiful and she is a powerful queen in her kingdom (Island).  Long story short, King Gunther from the German city of Worms decides he wants to marry the powerful queen Brünhild.  (Why is it that the men always assume that they can simply choose their bride without consulting her first?  Is this courtly love?  I am sure I shall find out!).  Gunther consults his best men, including Siegfried.  Siegfried is a king from his own country but wishes to marry Gunther’s sister Kriemhild (once again, Siegfried simply decides one day that this is the woman he wants to marry.  Fortunately, when they see each other for the first time, it is love at first sight).  Anyway, Siegfried advises Gunther to take him along on the trip to Island, which is Brünhild’s land.  Siegfried has a magical cloak, a Tarnkappe, which renders him invisible.  How he acquired the cloak is another story that I’d like to read some day.  At any rate, Siegfried knows of Brünhild’s power and must help Gunther defeat Brünhild in three contests.  The men prevail, but not without fearing for their lives.

Brünhild agrees to marry Gunther and they travel back to his kingdom.  On the wedding night, Gunther, in his eagerness to take his bride, upsets her.  I love this bit: she, the ultra-powerful woman, infuriated by her husband’s behavior, removes her braided belt and ties him up, then hangs him on a hook in the wall.  Wow.  We weren’t assigned to read that far in the text, but I couldn’t help myself.  I just had to know what was going to happen.  What a gal, eh?  A rendition of the scene from the artist Johann Heinrich Füssli:

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Look at Brünhild, just comfortably lounging there in her white gown, while her newly acquired husband is bound and hanging like an animal. She lets him down…eventually.  He returns to the wedding bed but basically stays as far away from her as possible.

The next morning, Siegfried, knowing her power, discretely inquires how Gunther’s wedding night went.  Gunther, poor man, is completely depressed and despondent.  Siegfried decides to help by disguising himself with his cloak of invisibility and fights Brünhild in the wedding bed, then when it’s clear he prevails over Brünhild, he quietly slips away and lets Gunther take his rightful place as Brünhild’s husband.  And, once she and Gunther consummate their marriage, she loses her extraordinary powers and becomes like any other woman.

But there’s a whole lot of interesting ideas in that very fact: her virginity is what lets her keep her extraordinary strength and power; by becoming a married woman, she gives up her power.  I have a feeling I’m going to be writing about this for my class and I’m eager to do some research on it.

As I’ve been reading along, however, I can’t get Wagner out of mind and even more so, I can’t not think of the classic Looney Tunes cartoon, What’s Opera, Doc? which you can find on Youtube. Here’s Chuck Jone’s rendition of Brünhild, Bugs-Bunny-in-drag-style:

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Bugs Bunny isn’t at all like how our great queen is described in the actual text.  I mean, he’s a bunny after all.  But isn’t he just amazing – the winged helmet, the flowing golden braids, the pink eyeshadow and lengthy eyelashes, the golden Bustenhalter, the pink mini skirt?  And the horse!  You can’t forget the voluptuous horse:

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It’s wonderful.  Horribly inaccurate, but wonderful.  And clearly, the Looney Tunes artists are making fun of high Wagnerian opera.

On that note, I leave you with: SMOG!  If you know the cartoon, you’ll know what I mean.

 

 

The newest photographer in the family

For Christmas, Rosebud got a new digital camera. It’s specifically for little kids because they can drop it and it won’t break. The camera also has a swiveling view finder so that they can take self portraits. I love the pictures she’s been taking so far. Take a look at a few of her shots:

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Guten Rutsch!

We hope that all of our visitors to our blog have had a Merry Christmas! It’s hard to fathom that is almost 2012 and we wish everyone “einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr” (a German expression wishing a good start to the New Year).

I resolve to update the blog more frequently in 2012. I haven’t written anything lately because of our move back to Indiana in the US and because I’m not sure which direction I wish to take for our blog. I have decided to continue writing about our family and also to write about issues relating to the German language and culture, and also teaching.

Briefly, here is what we have been doing for the past four months. We arrived in the US in early September. Very shortly after our arrival, I was offered a temporary teaching position in a nearby high school. A German teacher there was on maternity leave, so it was a perfect opportunity for me. I finished teaching at the end of November and loved the students, the school district and of course was thrilled to be teaching about the German language and culture that I love so much. I know that many of the students benefited from hearing about my experiences living in Bavaria. It also made me realize just how much I personally have learned from our three years in Bavaria.

In early October, our household goods arrived at our home in Indiana. We still have tons of boxes to unpack. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to unpack at least one box every week.

In November, besides keeping busy with teaching, we celebrated Thanksgiving with my side of the family. That was wonderful. Thanksgiving really is my favorite holiday, one which I missed while living in Europe. It never felt quite the same in Germany, when it was essentially just us celebrating this unique holiday.

I also severely sprained my ankle in November. You see, Rosebud is now going to Samstagschule to keep up with her German. The Deutschschule is on Saturday mornings at the International School of Indiana, and the program is run through IUPUI (Indiana U.-Purdue U. at Indianapolis). On this one particular Saturday, I was asked to substitute teach Rosebud’s class. A few of the children got away from the group and as I was chasing after them, I fell and immediately realized I had probably sprained my ankle. My ankle is much better than it was, but it has made it a little hard for me to get around, especially at first.

Then, this December, we have been quite busy with the holidays. I must say, as much as I miss Christmas in Germany and the Christkindlmarkt (among other things), it has been so good to be home with family to celebrate. Even though we came home for Christmas each of the years we were living in Germany, it’s different when you are living in proximity to family and have less time constraints due to travel.

But I have fondly thought about my visits the the Christkindlmarkt in Bad Tölz, among others, and the beautiful snow in Bavaria that you get this time of year. It’s been unseasonably warm here in Indianapolis, and in that regard, it hasn’t quite felt like Christmas to me. I miss the delicious foods you can buy at this time of year in Germany, the simple and tasteful decorations and most significantly, the lesser amount of commercialism in Germany. I’ve really been struck by just how commercial the season has become here in the United States, and that bothers me.

Anyway, we are all doing well and looking forward to 2012. We plan to travel quite a bit. David and I will go to Palm Springs, California at the end of January; in March, I hope to go to Kansas with the children as our dear neighbors in Germany will be there visiting their family and then over the summer, I am eager to return to Bavaria to visit our friends there. Lately, I’ve been dreaming of Bavaria and feel at times like the language and culture are slipping away from me, so I feel like I must visit!

Best wishes to all of you and a very happy, blessed New Year in 2012.

Superdude, ein bayerischer Bub

Much to my amazement, Superdude will be one at the end of September. How time quickly flies! As an early birthday present (and as a souvenir of our time here in Bavaria), we bought him a pair of Lederhose, the famous Bavarian/Austrian leather pants. I still need to purchase a shirt to go with the Lederhose, so he borrowed one of Rosebud’s.

Isn’t he sweet in his Lederhose? The word “Bub” by the way is a Bavarian/Austrian word for boy; one Bavarian variant of Bub is Bua which sounds an awful lot like our English word boy.

Lederhosen are tasty!

He certainly looks like a Bavarian, with his fair hair and blue eyes.

Superdude as pleased as can be

Sweetest guy ever

You can take the girl out of Germany, but you can’t take Germany out of the girl.

view of the Alps from Sindelsdorf

Most of our friends and family know that our time in Bavaria is coming to a close. At the tail end of July, David was offered a new position at a company in Indianapolis. His new job begins on September 12, so we will be moving back home a few days before that.

When we first moved to Bavaria, we intended to stay here for awhile. Once we are back in Indiana, it will have been after three years here and I feel like the time has just flown by so quickly. Ultimately, this is a good move for our family as we will be near our extended family and friends back home. That is not to say I will not miss living in Germany and Bavaria, quite the contrary.

There have been many advantages to living where we do: we’ve loved all the hiking and sight-seeing spots that are so close by; we’ve enjoyed all the kid-friendly activities; we’ve especially loved living within such close proximity to the world-class city of Munich.

What will I miss most of all? My friends here, of course. I’ve been so touched by the kindness of my German mama friends and their families, and they’ve done more for me than I can possibly say.

As for this blog, I do intend to update it, as often as I do now (which is about twice a month – I’d like to update it more frequently than that, but having little kids affords me less time than I’d like to write). I will continue to write about the German-speaking world, as it is my passion. Without a doubt, I know I’ll travel back to Germany with Rosebud and Superdude so they continue to be exposed to the language and culture. Having them learn the language and appreciate that things are done differently is extremely important to me.

As I am a German teacher, I have plenty of contacts within the German community in Indianapolis. I hope to go back to teaching German, provided I can find the right position. I miss teaching more than anything; now that I’ve lived in Germany for three years, I can share my experiences and knowledge of living here with my students. For a non-native speaking teacher, that’s quite remarkable and something that will benefit future students.

Our daughter Rosebud’s German is really taking off, so I’m especially saddened that we are moving at this crucial point in her language acquisition. Fortunately, I have found a Saturday morning German language program for kids between the ages of 3-12. The program is offered by Indiana U-Purdue U at Indianapolis (IUPUI) and run by a colleague of mine. I’m very excited that Rosebud has at least this option to continue learning German and to meet other kids who will be learning the language with her.

So that is our family news. We have a lot to accomplish in the next three weeks. More importantly, there are some local places I hope we can visit before we leave. It’s a little strange to be doing things for the last time, or at least, for quite awhile before I can make a return visit.

How to buy a Dirndl

It’s been a busy summer for the Bowmans in Bavaria. Superdude is crawling after his sister Rosebud; for her part, Rosebud is speaking more and more German (simple phrases, mostly). She’s also quite the little conversationalist in English. I’m really enjoying these two kids and feel extraordinarily lucky to have them.

A week ago Saturday, I had the opportunity to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time: I went to a Trachten shop to buy myself a Dirndl.

Feeling like a proper Dirndl-clad Bavarian woman

Tracht is the word for costume (plural: Trachten). When most Americans think of Germany, they usually think of Bavaria and the traditional costume that is worn in this region of the world.

From when we first moved to Upper Bavaria, I always admired the Dirndl dresses. One of my friends asked me how often people here wear them. Not everyone wears the traditional clothing, but of those who do, I most often see it on the weekend, especially Sunday and on festival days. There are some Bavarians who also wear their traditional clothing during the week, and even some who will only wear the traditional clothing (though this seems to be mostly older people). There’s an elderly gentleman I see from time to time when we go on walks. He doesn’t wear the full Lederhosen (leather pants) outfit but he usually has on a Bavarian shirt and hat at the very least.

If you visit Munich, you will certainly see people of all ages wearing Trachten, and not just the Biergarten servers! I think wearing the traditional costume is a little more common where we live, in Oberbayern (Upper Bavaria) as well as in parts of Austria which shares a similar style of traditional dress.

Believe it or not, Trachten has its own fashion industry and from what I understand, one of the design centers is Salzburg, Austria. Each season has its colors and patterns for that year, with there being a special emphasis on Oktoberfest. I couldn’t tell you what the Dirndl trends are for this year, mind you! Traditionally, each locale has its own variant of the costume, including fabric colors and hat designs. I don’t know a lot about that, however.

I decided I wanted to get good advice and customer service in my Dirndl purchase, so I went to a shop called Trachtenstube Inge which came highly recommended to me. All of the sale associates were beautifully dressed in Trachten. I was very well attended to by a woman who took the time to explain the different types of Dirndl.

I learned that for festivals the skirts tend to be black or at least dark in color. You can even buy a special bridal Dirndl, often in ivory or white, but sometimes in different colors and made of luxurious fabrics. As I wanted a more everyday Dirndl, she directed me toward what she called the “Wasch-Dirndl” – a “wash” Dirndl, or something you can easily launder yourself. The colors tend to be brighter in these everyday dresses. The more traditional Dirndl has a long skirt, but the short skirt is especially popular for the summer and also for Oktoberfest.

The most important thing about wearing a Dirndl, I discovered, is that the bodice must be very snug. The bodice reminded me of a corset in terms of the fit, and I think that’s the secret of why a Dirndl looks and feels so nice. A lady cannot slouch very easily in a Dirndl and must keep her posture straight which, in turn, creates an elegant and poised look. As you might imagine, a Dirndl also keeps a lady’s bustline held well into place, and I quickly learned that a supportive BH is essential (that is, a Bustenhalter, or a bust-holder, if you know what I mean – yes, a bra. Bustenhalter is a German word I particularly like!)

The Dirndlbluse, or Dirndl blouse, is not a full blouse, but rather a half-blouse that is snug around the bust area. The sleeves and neckline can be lacy, plain or everything in between; the ones I tried all had three-quarter sleeves. I don’t know if that is the traditional sleeve length or if that is a modern twist on the Dirndl blouse.

I found seven or eight long-skirted Dirndl that I wanted to try on, and as the prices were better than what I had anticipated, I thought maybe I would be able to buy two for myself.

As I tried on the various Dirndl I had selected, the saleslady and I decided that the stronger colors suited me very well. The first one I tried had a green bodice and a purple skirt, a combination which I liked. Soon after that, I discovered one with a purple bodice and green skirt, with a pink and white apron, which fit me very well indeed. I immediately knew that this was my Dirndl. It reminded me of when I bought my wedding dress, actually, in that I had no doubt whatsoever that it was the Dirndl meant for me.

Side view, fuschia and olive green Dirndl

Front view, fuschia and olive green Dirndl

Front view, fuschia and olive green Dirndl

I tried on a few more dresses, just to be sure. One of the next ones I tried had a dark blue bodice, red checked skirt and a red flowered apron. All of a sudden, I realized this was the perfect Dirndl for an Amerikanerin – it reminds me of our flag, the stars and stripes; the red, white and blue:

My "American" Dirndl, red, white and blue!

It really was too perfect to pass up. Once I determined to buy both of these Dirndl, another beautifully dressed woman scurried over to me, with her pincushion, so she could do the fitting and pinning for a few minor alterations. She said it would take a few days before she could get to the alterations for me. All week long I was eager to get my dresses back so I could try them on again.

When I did finally pick up my Dirndl, I decided to show my neighbors the purple and green one. They were charmed by their American neighbor dressing up and looking like one of their own. I even wore my Dirndl out to dinner at the local pizza restaurant. My husband kept commenting on how cute I looked, so I think I’ll wear my Dirndl somewhat regularly since he appreciated what it did for my figure. I think that Dirndl dresses are flattering on pretty much any woman and not only that, I just feel so magically transformed when I put it on.

Code-switching and Bavarian

The other day, when I went to my Frauengymnastikkurs (Women’s Fitness class), the other women who arrived before me were chatting about when their babies were born. It took me about a minute to figure out what they were discussing, however, because they were speaking a mixture of Hochdeutsch and Boarisch. In other words, they were code-switching between German and Bavarian.

What does code-switching mean? It’s a phenomenon that occurs when someone is fluent in more than one language; basically, someone who speaks two languages or more will switch between the languages as appropriate. As a person who is fluent in German, French and English, I code-switch all the time. When I’m shopping with my children, I’ll speak to them in English but once I am in a situation where I need to talk to a German, I switch to using the German language. Sometimes if I need to tell Rosebud something, I use both German and English, switching back and forth between the languages because I don’t want to alienate a German speaker who may not understand English. Here at home, we mostly speak English but we throw in German words and expressions because there’s either not a good English translation or we simply can’t think of the English word. For some reason, we say “Wasserkocher” instead of “Electric kettle”, maybe because “Wasserkocher” (“Water cooker”) is more fun to say. Truthfully, code-switching is not even something I think about doing, for the code-switching simply happens.

One of the women in my Women’s Fitness class mostly speaks Bavarian, and although I miss some of the vocabulary she uses, I’ve been living here in Bavaria long enough that I’m generally familiar with the dialect to understand the gist of the conversation but only sometimes. Other times, I’m completely at a loss. I, however, can’t speak Bavarian at all. I haven’t even really tried (apart from using simple words like “pfiati”, which means “bye bye”). I think that if I were to try speaking Boarisch, my friends would probably tease me and be highly amused, although if they were to ply me with a beer or glass of Grüner Veltliner, perhaps I’d be more willing to give it a go. Most of the Bavarians born and raised here who I’ve encountered will either speak to me in a mixture of German and Bavarian, or they will immediately switch to standard German once they realize that I’m not a native speaker.

One of my neighbors always speaks a mixture of Bavarian and standard German to me (there’s that code-switching again!). I suspect her usage of both with me is partially generational, in that I’m sure she grew up only speaking Bavarian at home, but a mix of Bavarian and standard German at school. When we first moved in to our house back in February 2009, I couldn’t understand her at all, apart from one or two words here and there. But as I’ve listened to Bavarian and have talked with my neighbor and others while out and about, I’ve become a little more adept at understanding individual words and overall ideas when the Bavarian words are used.

Here are a few examples: the German word “gut” becomes “guat” in Bavarian. One interesting Bavarian word is “Bua” which means “Junge” in standard German, and “boy” in English. I think it’s fascinating that “Bua” sounds a lot like “boy”. From my perspective as a non-native speaker, Bavarian sort of sounds like German with a strong shift in the vowels with consonant-dropping along with its own set of vocabulary. Bavarian also feels a little less formal to me than standard German, maybe because it’s especially used between family members who would otherwise speak standard German when they’re with non-Bavarians. Some other phrases: “i mog di” means “ich mag dich” in standard German, or, “I like/love you”. Another expression I hear all the time is “gell?” which means “nicht wahr?” or “right?”. If you want to sound like a local, or at least make the locals smile when they know you’re not a native, you can always toss in a “gell?” at the end of your conversation.

One American friend of mine, who is married to a German and lives in the northern part of Germany, said that she and her husband both have difficulty understanding Bavarians. Germans from other parts of Germany have told me the same thing and, in fact, often say something like, “Bavarian is like a different language”.

I really am fascinated by how people switch back and forth between Bavarian and German, just as I do between German and English (or French and English, when in a French-speaking situation). I suppose it’s a bit different, because for Bavarians, they have grown up as native speakers of both their local Bavarian dialect and standard German whereas in my case, I’m fluent in German but not a native speaker.

Amusingly, I found this tongue-in-cheek web page claiming to give German-speakers a list of important “Business” Bavarian phrases: http://www.lankuttis.net/bavarian.html
For the translation of “Schmarrn” (“nonsense” or something a bit stronger than that, if you catch my drift) the German phrase given is “da bin ich anderer Meinung” (“I’ve got a different opinion” or “I don’t agree”). Schmarrn, by the way, is a pretty common expression here in Bavaria. It’s not a word I heard much, if at all, when I was an exchange student up in Köln.

Thomahof Farm Visit

One of the many things I love living in Upper Bavaria is that we live in the country and yet we’re just an hour away from the world-class city of Munich.

A few weeks ago, we visited a farm called Thomahof, which is a ten-minute drive from our house.

Griaß God am Thomahof (Greetings at Thomahof)

Beautiful upper Bavarian farm field

I’ve already been back a second time so that I could go to the farm store, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Thomahof farm is truly a typical Upper Bavarian working farm, but the farming family has made their farm very welcoming for a family visit. Our farm visit was a Krabbelgruppe (toddler play group) field trip.

upper Bavarian farm

As we drove to the farm, I explained to Rosebud that we were going to visit some farm animals. She then provided a nice backdrop of farm animal noises and was telling her little brother about the animals we would see. I think that Superdude may have ended up being disappointed that we didn’t see a giraffe, as she had promised, but I digress!

First, we visited the cows in their barn.

Cows eating freshly cut grasses

I liked this poster, which says “Our milk makes Bavaria strong!”

Our milk makes Bavaria strong!

Rosebud enjoyed feeding the cows and was truly giddy to discover that cows have really big tongues. She cackled with delight when they stretched out their tongues to nibble on some grass. I explained to her that cows and other ruminants have four stomachs and they chew their cud, but Rosebud sort of looked at me like, “Oh, whatever, Mom,” and skipped on to the next thing.

Alongside the milk poster in the cow barn were trivia questions geared toward older kids, asking questions like “what kind of grasses are harmful to cows” and “how much milk can the average cow produce”, etc. For the most part, cattle in Bavaria tend to be of the milk-producing variety. As we walked around the farm, it occurred to me just how much the landscape reminds me of upstate New York (where I grew up) and Wisconsin (where I went to Lawrence University), which are also dairy cattle regions. It’s probably not too surprising when I say that Bavaria is known for its cheeses, yogurts and Quark fresh cheese and other dairy products. We are about half an hour from the region called Allgäu which is especially known for its cheese production, particularly Emmentaler, or what we often call Swiss cheese in the US. (Side note: Swiss Emmentaler usually designates Emmentaler from Switzerland, but the name Emmentaler can designate cheese in that style that is produced in Germany, France, etc.).

After visiting the cows and the calves, we visited all the other farm animals (except for the chickens, as they were in their coop).

Sheep may safely graze

A farmhorse

Pigs in the outdoor pen

Rosebud was always delighted when the animals made their noises, as were the other kids in our group.

Oink, oink!

I was wearing Superdude in the baby carrier while walking around the farm. From time to time, he would coo or babble, so I think he got a lot out of the farm visit. Or maybe he was trying to find the promised giraffe…

Toward the end of our visit, all of us walked up a farm path to find a place where we could sit down for a mid-morning snack. There was a large gravel hill, which turned out to be a great climbing hill for Rosebud and some of the slightly older kids.

Farm tractor, of great interest to the kids

Rosebud walks along the farm path

She was so pleased with herself for climbing up to the top.

playing on the gravel pile with the other kids

By the time we finished with our visit and snack, Superdude was exhausted and ready to be home. I had been hoping to visit the farm store, but decided to come back another day.

And so we did this past week, this time with two mama friends of mine and their children. Rosebud was thrilled to see all the animals again, and her favorite animals still seemed to be the cows.

Rosebud reaches for some grasses to give to the cows

However, on this second visit, the chickens were happily strutting about in their indoor pen. (According to a sign, if I understood everything correctly, they were young chickens and not quite ready to strut out in the open area attached to their coop and indoor pen). Rosebud really enjoyed the chickens, which she thought were terribly funny.

Chickens wandering

After visiting all the animals again, I was determined to stop in the farm store. I’m very happy I did. The farm store offered some greens, fresh eggs, a beautiful selection of meat products, freshly baked bread, pasta, jams and cheese. I bought some pasta made from spelt flour and farm eggs, cheese, whole grain spelt bread, oxtail for stewing and cheesy sausage wrapped in bacon called Berner Würstl. I am so excited to know about this farm store, because everything I bought has been amazing (as you’d expect, fresh from the farm). I can’t wait to go back to the store, and I know that Rosebud and Superdude will always be happy to see the animals.

Moooo, cow!

Speaking of animal sounds, many German animal sounds are fairly similar to English ones. For instance, the animal that says “muh” is, of course, a cow. To learn about German animal onomatopoeia, here’s a German-English animal sounds chart.

(For more sound fun, check out this list of Cross-linguistic onomatopoeias.)

Another view of the cow barn

A lovely Easter weekend

This spring, we’ve had exceptionally nice weather. It’s been unusually warm for Bavaria in April, but I am not complaining. We had a four-day weekend for Easter and we profited from the gorgeous weather. One thing I’ve learned about living here is that if the weather is nice, you should jump at the chance to go outside because you can’t always know how long the weather will stay nice.

Saturday, the 23rd, was the nicest day of the entire weekend. For Bavarian standards, it felt like summer had arrived, as we had temperatures in the seventies and clear skies. We visited our friends Honi and Lilly in the town of Murnau am Staffelsee.

Along the path to Ähndl

The train from Oberammergau to Munich, via Murnau and Tutzing

Murnau is a picturesque town, which exemplifies upper Bavaria in my opinion.

View south from Murnau

We took a walk from Murnau to Ähndl Gastsätte and back:

A Gaststätte, by the way, is usually a restaurant that can have a Biergarten (or the Gastsätte might simply be a Biergarten) or it might be like a pub. I believe there are regulations in place for what constitutes a Gaststätte, but I’ll have to ask someone about that. After having had our luncheon at the Ähndl Gastsätte, I can highly recommend this locale for anyone who visits upper Bavaria. We found the prices to be very reasonable and the menu offered many typical dishes, expertly prepared. Not only that, the Gaststätte had a playground. As you can imagine, this made it ideal for us. Rosebud was too excited by the slide, swings and sand pit to eat anything.

Rosebud at the playground

It was a really lovely walk, and so nice to sit down in the middle of our walk and have a leisurely lunch while the girls played. And, of course, it was especially nice for Rosebud and Lilly to spend some time together.

The Alps and the Murnau moor

Lilly and Rosebud, visiting a tree

We went to an Easter breakfast and church on Sunday morning, which gave me the chance to dress Rosebud up in her Dirndl. She really loves getting dressed up in her Dirndl. I didn’t have my camera with me, but I’ll have to remember to take some photos of her in her Dirndl the next time she wears it.

On Sunday afternoon, I planned to do our Easter egg hunt with Rosebud, but instead we had the first thunderstorm of the season complete with pea-sized hail. We needed the rain, and the air smelled and felt so wonderful during the short-lived storm. Rosebud got to have her Easter egg hunt on Easter Monday, instead. Following her egg hunt, we went for a walk in the forest behind our house. It was cooler than Saturday, but still gorgeous weather and perfect for spending the day together as a family.

We hope everyone had an excellent weekend with their families, whether you were celebrating Easter, Passover or simply the springtime.

Rosebud's Easter egg hunt

Rosebud spots an egg

Mom, I have a blue egg!

Lilacs are blooming, at the end of April!

Daddy and Rosebud throw sticks into the stream

Superdude is happy to be out for a stroll

Springtime walk near our house

Another picture of the stream by our house

Rosebud in the woods

Making Easter Eggs with Rosebud

For weeks now, Rosebud has been asking when we could color Easter eggs. This is the first year she’s been able to understand the idea; it’s been several years since I’ve colored Easter eggs myself, so I was pretty eager to color eggs, too. I’ve always enjoyed making them from when I was little, and my sisters and I would get fairly elaborate with all kinds of patterns.

If I had a little more time, it would have been fun to experiment with making homemade natural dyes, but instead we used a kit. Next year, I’m going to try making natural dyes.

If you know me fairly well, you may have learned at some point that I really hate eating eggs. I always think eggs look appealing to eat, but both the scent and texture of eggs makes my stomach turn. And I’m honestly sad about that fact, because I think dishes like omelets look amazingly delicious. But due to the fact that I don’t eat eggs, they are one of the few foods I haven’t learned how to cook. I’ll readily admit that I had to look up directions on how the hard boil our two dozen eggs for dyeing. It was surprisingly easy (imagine that!), but the smell of the eggs still put me off.

Rosebud and I simply dyed our eggs solid colors. To give the eggs a bit of shine, I rubbed a smidgen of vegetable oil on them. I also found some mini Easter stickers for Rosebud to put on the eggs, but they didn’t stick too well because of the vegetable oil. No matter; Rosebud still greatly enjoyed looking at the stickers and deciding where to place the stickers. I briefly thought about using a white wax crayon to draw designs on the eggs before dying them, but since Rosebud was eager to get started (and Superdude was fussing and wanting to be snuggled with Mama), I tabled that idea for next year. Rosebud dropped one egg, which cracked, but that gave me the opportunity to see that I at least had correctly cooked the eggs. I offered Rosebud some of the hard boiled egg, but apparently she feels the same way I do about eating eggs. I can’t blame her in the slightest!

While we were working on our Easter egg project, I thought about how I once learned to make Ukrainian Easter eggs, or Pysanky; here’s another link about Pysanky. When I was about 12 or 13 years old, there was a Pysanky class offered at the public library in the town where I grew up. For awhile after that, I was really interested in making my own Ukrainian eggs. It’s a creative and fun process. The websites I linked describe making Pysanky really well, but here’s what I remember from when I did it. First, you take a stick of beeswax and melt it into a miniature funnel (using a candle), and draw your design by carefully dripping the wax onto the egg; the lines you draw should be delicate and of course you want to use as little wax as possible. Then, you dye the egg, starting with the lightest color you plan to use. Then repeat the process to add to your design and the colors you want. Finally, once you’re happy with all the patterns and colors on your egg, you melt the wax off, gently using the candle, and wipe the wax off which reveals your finished egg.

After I took the Pysanky class, I talked my mom into buying me several colors of Ukrainian egg dye. I believe that I proudly displayed several of my creations in Mom’s china cabinet, and the eggs are probably still there. They’re not at all authentic in terms of design, but it was really fun. Maybe when Rosebud and Superdude are a bit older, I can do this again and teach them, too.

Speaking of Easter eggs with intricate designs, we visited the Ostermarkt, or Easter market in Bad Tölz yesterday. We only had about half an hour to look, as we needed to catch a bus (great cheap thrill for Rosebud, taking the bus!). One of the artisans at the market had a stand of gorgeous painted Easter eggs. I let Rosebud pick out one for herself (a kitty) and I bought an owl one for Superdude. You see, when Superdude coos, he sometimes sounds like an owl. I had a nice chat with the artisan, who told me she studied fine art in Krakow, Poland. I plan to go back and buy a few more as gifts, because they were amazingly beautiful.