Amsterdam and Osnabrück, Germany (April 2007)

The middle one is Maren’s father; I stayed on his (the Engelker) farm.

“Hallo, meine Schatz!”

Once I got to Amsterdam Centraal, I realized I had about 4 hours until my train to Osnabrueck, so I got to wander and do a few things I wasn’t able to do when Carley, Ooons & I were in Amsterdam.

I mean, I know that Venice is sinking (acqua alta), but what about Amsterdam? I mean, isn’t 27% of the Netherlands below sea level, with about 50% under one meter?
Haha: “God created the world, but the Dutch created the Netherlands”

De Poezenboot (the CATBOAT!).
I was wandering down the Herengracht canal & saw this boat that appeared to be crawling with felines across the quay. When I got to the doorstep/dock I wasn’t really sure what to say, but found myself welcomed into this cat clinic/adoption center/sanctuary to sit in the middle of this boat among the 25-30 whiskered residents (and one whiskered, volunteer: Gordon).

Yeah, ok.

More buildings.

I cannot emphasize how nuts Dutch sounds & looks. For some reason (who can I blame) I thought that the Dutch spoke Frisian (which they do, but it’s a smaller number of Dutch), which is the closest living European language to English (except for arguably Scottish English: ”Come on!”.)

“No spot for your bicycle?”
Well then…
(Dutch is an unbelievably amusing language)

Here ya go – see if you can find a space in this bike parking garage!

My arrival to Hitzhausen!
A small farming village in Lower Saxony, Germany that is about a 25 minute drive outside of Osnabrück city center. All the antlers are her dad’s, hunting trophies (surely mounted on his own, also).

The tags I made for Maren’s birthday banquet/beer barn.

Beer barn!
I should’ve taken the photography of this more seriously, but I was too busy trying to speak and understand German for more than 8 straight hours.

Making colored eggs with leaves & other flora wrapped around the egg, then covered with a nylon sock.

Maren’s mom & sister on our Easter stroll.

All of the farms in this area are built with red brick & timber framing (I think it is called Fachwerk), which makes them part of the historical preservation projects of the area & kind of dumb building regulations for what you can and cannot do to your house (for example, all the windows must be wooden so that the house is exactly how it’s always been, though the costs of upkeep are never fully reimbursed & the pains of replacing wooden windows every few decades makes that regulation, for example, seem illogical).
The houses may also be part of Deutsche Fachwerkstraße, or the road from Lower Saxony to the south, which links Germany’s medieval timber frame houses.

On Maren’s 30th birthday, her friends came over & made her put on a Cooperative Farm costume where she had to waddle around in ein Topf all day; clean a bunch of random doorknobs; find a virgin that would kiss her; and take any shot that anyone put into her hands. Seems like a pretty miserable 30th-birthday rite of passage (reserved only for unmarried women – doesn’t count if you’re engaged or in a long term relationship, and doesn’t apply to men).

The reason for her cooperative farm costume is her lifework & concentration in studying food business.
Previously, she spent about a year in Namibia working on a farm & a few months from now, she will be arriving in Uganda doing various food business-related things like teaching nutrition classes to Ugandan children. (She kinda rules!)

& the whole village wandering around with her for some hours (friends, family, neighbors) while she cleaned doorknobs.

The one on the far right is a journeyman carpenter (or one of this society: Die Fremde Zimmergessellen): it’s his three year apprenticeship as a traveling carpenter. Some guidelines:

– You have to wear that uniform for the entire three years (it’s part of the tradition).
– You cannot stay in one place for more than 3 months
– You cannot pay very much for travels (so you must hitch, for example)
– You cannot return “home” and cannot even come within 50 km of your birthplace the entirity of your apprenticeship.

This is for my mom, who hasn’t kitsched-out her garden enough yet.
Mom, have you ever thought about building a well? A bridge over your waterfall (you might question the necessity, but the aesthetics?!)?

Swantje, Nicole, Thomas, Manja.

Easter Bonfire!!!!
Every year, everyone collects organic/unusuable/dead things from their gardens or farms & the local fire station supervises a HUGE bonfire with sausage stands & beer to boot.
This ceremony is also supposed to symbolize the end of winter (the end of winter!!!!).

tinyGermans get their own babybonfire on.

Manja is spinning fire behind the dwindling bonfire.

A monument for the Germans from this village that died in WWI (hidden up in the hills).

We went to this museum that is mostly focused on the archaeological finds from the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest (Varus-Schlacht) where the Germans defeated the Romans.
The battle lasted from September 9th (My B day!) to the 11th in 9 A.D.
This established the Rhine as the boundary of the Roman Empire for the next several hundred years.


Look out, it’s some urban gardening!

Universität Osnabrück

This is an old witch-burning tower in Osnabrueck.
I read Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body & Primitive Accumulation by Silvia Federici, which would most likely have had a lot more information about witch trials & executions in north Germany.

This is reproduction of the original. I thought it was entitled “The Victory of Death” (the original of which is in BCN), but I can’t find a titled image online. His self-portraits (Selbstbildnis) are pretty wonderful/deranged/desperate. Here’s a better copy.

If you actually saw the sculpture, it’s of a tin-box man carrying another tin-box man over his head, but as a shadow it just looks like someone tiptoeing.

Speaking of tiptoeing, I never understood the expression that I thought was “tow the line”, but this whole time it has been: “Okay, that’s where I’m going to toe the line.” Unbelievable how much satisfaction dumb things like that give me.

Ohmygod: Albrecht Dürer’s anatomy lessons!
I have my favorite of Albrecht Dürer’s etchings as my journal cover. The lion of “St. Jerome in his Study” is entirely due to the imagination of Dürer. He had never seen a real lion in his life, so this is what he imagined one would look like.

One of my many resolutions for whenever I have the time (perhaps in the summer) is to read more about the history of calendars, because any time I learn something about a different kind of calendar or the incompatibility of existing calendars, it kind of blows my mind.

Hell yeah that looks stable enough!
Speaking of towing vs. toeing the line: you can do both with this tightrope!

A nice wood falsefront and then:

The real one in the city.

This chocolate company in Osnabrueck, Leysieffer, sells really wild, gourmet chocolate including chile (pepper) & jalapeño chocolate; lavender & rose chocolate; Darjeeling & Earl Gray tea chocolate; lots of others, I don’t know.

One of Manja’s red squirrels!!!

The area that these squirrels have to run around in is huge. The tubing goes all over the garden, they have a large, open barn area; several lofts in other shelters on the farm, plus crazy tubing up all sorts of trees.

These sheep are crazy about feed pellets (made from some “sugar root”?).

German Ice Cream café.
I got “spaghetti ice cream”.

In some good goddamned news I am going to Uppsala, Stockholm and even (hopefully) Haparanda, Sweden at the beginning of June! I just spent the last hour on the phone with my grandma’s cousin’s son Fredrik, who is really enthusiastic about taking me out to see some tight archipelago (Alands hav?), introducing me to every relative he can think of, and flying me up to the top of the Gulf of Bothnia (near the Finland border and near the Arctic Circle, holy shit!) to see where my Grandma is from! Most of the reason I feel so rotten is how spoiledrotten I am in life, not that these trips are being funded by anyone but me and my bank account, but there’s no way I would be a fraction as enabled as I am without my parents (meticulous attention/love/support) or without all the friends & family that keep taking me in all over the world.

Oh no. It is kind of late and I am supposed to be finishing a paper I haven’t started for my favorite professor here on “Why did Joyce call his novel ‘Ulysses’?” I need to start learning how to write essays for me, because as it is, I am great at taking on labors of love when I treat it like I’m writing for a professor I cherish so much, or on an author I have a lot of love for.

Scheiße! Easter Bonfire!


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