Malta sunsets

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I got some nice shots of the sunset from the terrace the other day, after we enjoyed some local Maltese red wine from the Antonin winery.

Waves crashing on the beach

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One of my favorite songs, American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, has this line:

Yeah, she could hear the cars roll by

Out on 441 like waves crashin’ on the beach

Tom Petty, American Girl

This line came into my head as we were watching the waves crash on the beach on Friday. We had hoped to go swimming, but the sea was too rough. We enjoyed watching the waves crash on the beach.

Tuesday the beach at Ballutta bay was sandy and calm. Today, the rough waves were churning up the sand and bringing all sorts of drift wood up onto the beach, which was nearly gone.

Sun, Clouds, Birds

This morning we set our alarm to wake up before sunrise so we could watch it from our rooftop terrace. The view wasn’t quite as nice as I had hoped, but it was still very relaxing. I really enjoyed watching the clouds go by. There were also several flocks of birds, which were really mesmerizing to watch, as they circled round and round, switching from white to black as they turned around.

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Mesmerizing birds

Wild blueberries

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Yesterday Meg and I joined our friends Thomas and Ulli for a little hike in Belgium to pick wild blueberries (in German Heidelbeeren); they had discovered a big patch of them while hiking last year. Even though it was a little bit later in the year than peak time, we still managed to find quite a few blueberries.

Meg made muffins today – a recipe out of the cookbook that grandma Felty got her several years ago. They were very tasty! She shared them with some neighbors as well as her fellow scouts.

Blueberry muffins

Thanks Thomas and Ulli for taking us out for some adventure!

Happy pi day!

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Today I made pizza in celebration of pi day (although I made it square, because that fits our pans better). I used the special pizza flour, which made it really elastic. I also tried my hand at tossing the dough instead of rolling it out, which worked fairly well. I made about 1/3 plain cheese for Spencer and 2/3 veggie for everyone else, with onions, yellow peppers, mushrooms, and onions.

Pizza Pie!

It has been really rainy here the last several days. Last night there was some a big of lightning combined with hail. The forecast for the next several days looks similar. However, in spite of the rain, there are frequently some brief dry periods. Yesterday after dinner we took such an opportunity to take a short walk. It was still a bit chilly and windy, but at least not raining. We saw some daffodils blooming along the way.

Tipiuhr

Würselener Wald
Würselener Wald
Die gesammelten Sachen
Die Tipiuhr am Ende

Snow!

We woke up to a world covered in snow. This is probably the biggest snow we have gotten while living in Würselen. The kids made a snowman. Rob brought down a carrot and sticks to decorate their creation. Clare took pictures and make soup and cocoa.

When the sun is shining …

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Go outside!

It’s a simple concept, but easy to forget. The weather forecast for the Aachen region in January is typically rainy and 5? (40 ?). However, the sun usually peaks out for awhile most days. I have learned that when I notice the sun shining, that means that it is time to take a walk or a bike ride. I am lucky enough to have a very flexible work schedule which allows me to do this just about any day.

Lately it has been quite rainy in the afternoons and evenings, and even some pretty hefty storms overnight, but the mornings have often been clear. Today after we finished breakfast, Clare, Meg, and I took a walk to one of our favorite spots – the Milchtankstelle (milk vending machine), where we got some fresh raw milk and eggs, and also some fresh veggies from the adjacent farmer’s stand, which are currently simmering on the stove as lentil soup. We get to walk by the happy cows and chickens on our way, and spotted some pretty flowers and bushes on the way back.

Mistletoe & Holly

On our walk today, we got up close and personal with two festive plants. Mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant with poisonous berries. It forms balls in the tree branches. Now is a good time to cut them out of trees because they are highly visible without the leaves. Holly is both a bush and a tree, with pretty silver bark. Only the female holly plant produces berries.

The land of rape and honey

Life has certainly been different the last several months with the restrictions in place to try to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Germany we have been fortunate to not be confined totally to the indoors. Going outside for walks, while keeping a minimum distance from people outside of your household has been encouraged. And we were lucky to have some really great weather too – during most of April we enjoyed highs in the 60s to 70s. We have tried to take the opportunity to get outside almost every day. Just a few minute walk from our house and we are walking through fields – all kinds of different fields – strawberries, lettuce, sugar beet, barley, and lots of rapeseed, which is used to make Canola oil. Canola is a new-fangled marketing term for rapeseed oil, because for some reason, people didn’t want to buy rapeseed oil (well, besides the name, they also did some selective breeding in the 1970s to make the oil look and taste better). They grow lots of rapeseed in Canada, and thus they re-branded it as Canola oil. In fact, the town of Tinsdale, Saskatchewan was known as “the land of rape and honey” until just a few years ago. The industrial band Ministry learned of this fact and thought it was funny, thus they used it for the title of their third studio album (I had a dubbed version of this album on cassette tape when I was in middle school). One final note, in Germany, rapeseed oil is currently primarily used for the production of biodiesel.