Monday, June 27, 2011

Franc, Beloved Father/-in-Law & Wedding Planner, is Coming to Europe

Continuing our Bad Habits in Trip Planning- we are off to pick up Ian's dad tomorrow in Copenhagen!

boats europeExcited? YES!
Ready? No. yes. Maybe.

There really isn't a lot to get ready. We're just going to be gone for 2 days & the hotel is already taken care of. We have done our rambling travel reading about the city, picking out what beers & food we want to eat (you know, the important stuff). But life has been so hectic I don't even know if I have processed. We're seeing Greg. Tomorrow. Ahhhhh!

Copenhagen is going to be great. We are literally ecstatic to see Greg. His cousin visited with us just a few weeks ago, but he will be the first of the immediate family/friends to come over this time.

In his honor, some great Greg pics:

Greg impersonates Ian in some of his wares

family covered in snow

In 2007, Greg visited for Christmas with Granny who is in her 80s . They were troopers, but Greg recalls this winter as the "coldest winter Berlin has ever seen".  It wasn't. But it was pretty cold.

Berlin Ian wedding
Greg & Ian before the wedding
Greg & I at the wedding

You can see where Ian gets his humor

smal cock statue
Last 4th of July - "Look at my cock" was frequently heard. From my FiL. Yeah- it was weird, but not entirely unexpected.

Welcome to Europe, once again, Mr. Porter!

Update: The trip was...a success. I think. You decide


Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Gay Affair: Berlin's CSD

With New York finally legalizing Gay marriage & Berlin's Christopher Day Parade this Fri/Sat- we were feeling like happy rainbows. We missed our Seattlites & Seattle's always wonderful Pride Parade, but we were pretty sure Berlin could bring it. And it could. With leather chaps.

Victory Tower Berlin

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Karneval der Kulturen in Berlin

We were as excited to observe the Karneval der Kulturen parade as last time we were here. We loved the vivid costumes, dancing, singing, and drums. As it was several hours late last time, we took our time, touring Ian's cousins around Berlin, looking at the East Side Gallery, Documentation Center, and enjoying one of Berlin's legendary brunches  (one of our favorites- Intimes).

The Cousins - Jim & Marsha

East Side Gallery ESG Berlin

East Side Gallery & TV Tower Berlin





ESG wall Berlin

As we pulled up to Kreuzberg , 20 min late, we noticed signs of the parade being over. Calling friends, they were confused as to what was happening. A few floats had gone by, but now people were breaking up. Well, bummer. Damn those hippies!

No matter- we were at the epicenter of the festival for the second day. Lounging in what was quickly becoming a dustball of a park, we actually got to see some pretty awesome stuff.

Like these bizarre ski things that were promptly broken as drunks couldn't coordinate, but kids did pretty good on them!

boy land ski

An unusual arm chair

man in shopping cart

Photo Bombing (where's Ian?)

Turkish dancing

Coconut drinks
coconut drink Berlin

 And eventually when we wandered away, we got happily stuck in a vortex of a house party that had spilled onto the street. This moment perfectly epitomized why Berlin is like no where else. Events just morph together in ways that you would never expect. It's a collective mindset that I have never experienced anywhere else. I love it. And you would too if you were here.

This weekend- Christopher Street Day (CSD) - an annual celebration and demonstration for the rights of LGBT people. Definitely miss our Seattle peeps & the Gay Pride Parade, but I have a feeling Berlin can match it. Going to be fierce!

For more of magnificent May:

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Men in My Life

Saturday was Herr Mann's birthday! I always stress about doing something he likes and making it as fun, unexpected, and untethered from the ordinary as possible. I'm lucky he is easy to please, but I want to do more than he could possibly imagine.

I surprised him with candies (yes he's a diabetic- don't judge me) and treats all week, including some "American Instant Hash Browns". They came with the flag on them and in a squeeze container where you just add water, shake, and squeeze into a hot pan. Sound gross, but -as expected- Ian is pretty excited about them.

On Friday, after Ian left for class, I leapt into action baking up a storm. I had been gleaning information about his school all week & somehow he hadn't noticed. I was going to break into his Kita & surprise him. I figured out the tram, made my way through the construction, found the school, remembered the door code and found his classroom. I was sweating as I tried to explain who I was, but was well rewarded by Ian's total shock at my appearance. He woke one of his favorites (Darius) up from his nap & I got to meet a bunch of the kids. So little! And Ian is amazing with them, picking them up and teasing them. I wish I had his ease around kids. Stay at home dad Ian?
A real Burrito!

We left the cookies for the kids and I took him to lunch at Dolores. A little bit of Mexican food makes Mr. Ian smile. Berlin was on it's best behavior as we wandered around Mitte, passing the Dom. We picked up some ice cream & enjoyed a beautiful Berlin.

Berliner Dom & Fernsehturm

Later that night, as the clock hit 12, I brought out my trump card. A friend & I had visited the Currywurst Museum last week & while it was overpriced for the tiny display, I found the gift among gifts. Ian eats at this mom & pop currywurst stand most days that he is at class. At the museum I found a personal currywurst fork & knife set, complete with toothpick. I had to have it, it was perfect. I presented it and Ian marveled at the German engineering, design, and sausage stabbing abilities. I can't wait to get a picture of him using it.

For his birthday, we decided to throw our version of Das Perfekte Dinner. A popular German TV show- I am completely addicted and iIt is one of the few things I really try to understand (gotta work on that). A couple of friends have tried their hand at it to great success, and we knew exactly what we wanted to do. MEXICAN.

Several epic shopping trips occurred and prep began the night before the party:
  • Sangria marinating in fridge - check
  • Popsicles freezing - check
  • Cookies made & decorated - check
  • Beans once fried - check
But on the day of, there was a lot left to do.We made:
  • Spicy Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Corn & Bean Salad
  • Refried Beans (1st time from scratch!)
  • Chile Rellenos
  • Rum Sunrise Popsicles
Entree of Chile Relleno, refried beans, & corn/bean salad

Dinner Guests
Hardly authentic, but legitimately delicious.

The next morning it was as if locusts had descended with nary a nibble of food to be had. Proof it was good, right? And we were even left with some awesome presents from friends- not necessary, but much appreciated.

Birthday weekend continued onto a Sunday in which we pretty much only left TV watching in bed to make nachos. I think that was the most I've slept in years. As I am usually the one making Ian get-up, it was my final gift to him to let him have a lazy, sleep in day.

All in all- smashing success! Laughs were had, friends were fed & entertained, drinks were drunk, and loads of food were consumed. You've got 5 months Porter to get my Bday right. You better bring it.

(For more pictures of June happiness: Happy days are Here Again)

AND not to be forgotten - FATHERS DAY. Big Love to my Daddio, Dave Ball. The man with a "thinking problem" (buy it for 1 cent- what a bargain), master garden grower, equine enthusiast, craftsman extraordinaire, cat wrangler, excellent walking-down-the aisle-er, golden funny bone, Cupcake Tower making maniac, crazy grandpa, awesome Father-in-Law, bad dog supporter, old timey goldminer, cookie baker, superior camper, Leslie Nelson admirer, gourmet omelet maker, and the Best Dang Tuttin' Dad that ever lived. I know some of you may disagree, but I know the truth.

As we rounded the corner he asked "Are you ready?" "YES!"

I asked Dad to make something simple to display the cupcakes. He made a scale model of the Tower Bridge where Ian proposed. I love my Dad.

It was surprise reveal of the cupcakes. I was a mess

Dad & His Daughters

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The most Frustrating Waiting Room in Berlin

You too can be greatly annoyed in Berlin in just 3 easy steps!
  1. Arrive in Berlin in need of long-term visa
  2. Carefully study rules, regulations, and documents required and assemble your file
  3. Go to the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners Authority) where they will not give you appointment, keep you waiting for hours, have an almost indecipherable accent, ask for documents they hadn't mentioned up to this point, and then merrily (this is a joke as nothing is "merry" here) send you back home to come try again another day.

Eastside Gallery & Fernsehturm
Oh, the Ausländerbehörde. How I hate you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How to Grill on Your Balcony in Berlin

10 Easy Steps to making a delicious grilled meal in Berlin in the comfort of your own home.
(Some steps may be optional)

1. Buy spiffy BBQ
2. Buy tasty meat
WARNING! Do not eat raw meat (although to be sold in Germany, all meat technically can be eaten raw. Eww)

3. Put in charcoal and light. Fill apartment with smell of lighter fluid
4. Put on Grill
5. Lay meat on grill

6. Put on lid....
...and wait

7. Check on meat to find that coals have gone out. Re-light

8. Wait some more
9. Realize you're hungry NOW and succumb to finishing steaks on the stove top
10. Eat & enjoy a delicious grilled meal made in the comfort of your own home.

Need more ways to make a fool of yourself & enjoy Berlin? Full Listings and posts of what to do, eat, see, drink on our page, In Love with Berlin.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wer hat die Wahl, hat die Qual

Statue at Schiller Park
 Apartment troubles continued to plague us as we searched for a place for June. We found the third apartment that we totally fell in love with, arrived first, and were told she was going to wait to make her decision until after the other applicants had seen it. WTF. She ended up choosing a single person v. a couple. Sigh...nothing we can do about that.

Then we found a place in Friedrichshain. Though at the top of our price range, it offered an absolutely amazing location among bars, & restaurants and fit all of our ideal criteria. "We'll take it!" However, as a good west German he wanted to get the sublet approved from his landlord. We have undoubtedly rented some places illegally, as I bet a few of the renters haven't informed their landlord of our deal. Though this is theoretically risky as your rental agreement is null without approval, it is the norm of many sublets. We were eager to have everything on the up & up and submitted the necessary documents. Unprovoked uneasiness prevailed in our joint mood. We had everything we needed, but lady luck has not been kind to us lately.

She proved unkind once again. We were rejected, with an unexplained "Nicht erwuenscht." In vain, the sublettor tried to contact the agency. Fear was now allowed to run rampant as we had to move the next week and once again, possibly had no place to go.

Taking the tact of the proactive, I started contacting places once again. I set-up 2 appointments as we waited for the Freidrichain sublettor to make up his mind. To sublet illegal, or not.

Luckily, the first place was gorgeous. In a Northwesterly neighborhood (Wedding) we haven't had much interest in, the apartment more than satisfied our every wish. Lovely wood floors, tons of room, full balcony, wifi, TV, washer, dishwasher, AND- cats allowed. Plus there was a bit of kinship as she thought she had the place rented out, and just the day before her subleasor had pulled out. Reluctantly we told her we would let her know & made our way to the next appointment. Checking our e-mail, no word from Freidrichshain.

The next place as in Neukoelln, the neighborhood we had been ripped off in and a bit of an English language enclave.  We were wary, but desperate. we headed to the hinterhof and found a very strange apartment. The place was mostly hallway with an awkwardly shaped kitchen, tiny bedroom with single bed, and cluttered & small main room. We made small talk and were in agreement as we left- no thanks. It's a bizarre thing in Berlin that apartments in the same price range can come in such a vast range of qualities.

"Wer hat die Wahl, hat die Qual", Ian told me. "Who has the choice has the misery."

Well said Germs. To go with the maybe in Friedrichshain, or the sure thing, a perfect place in not our favorite hood. When we thought about it and the decision turned out to be easy. We went to live in Wedding.

We called Marie in Wedding & we happily became her sublettors. Whew! Less than an hour later Rolland in Friedrichshain called. He was ready to do the sublet. Arrrrggggggg- why couldn't you have decided that the night before. We let him know we couldn't wait and had taken the other apartment and there seemed to be no hard feelings, I am sure he found someone. But oh the agony! Sometimes, it really is too much.

Enough apartment drama! We're ready to enjoy Berlin in the Summer.

Balcony! It has been so hot we have been living on this thing

Living Room- shot from the dining area
Living Room
Lady subletting is a make-up artist. She's got crazy stuff

Lightening & thunder storm. A beautiful show

Want more pics and stories of apartments in Berlin? Click the apartment label for full gory details of our many, many moves and read What Moving 6 times in a Year has Taught Me.

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008