David and Kathy

David Ferré and Kathy Childs Website

Greetings from Dave and Kathy. With our move to Europe from July to December, 2012, we're going to maintain a blog of what we're up to (see below). We'll return to the US in December to our winter home in Tucson. After enjoying a few months in Tucson, we'll head back to Europe in May, 2013, returning to the US in August, 2013. Our homes in Germany and France are via Home Exchanges with corresponding German and French families.

| July | August | Sept. | Oct. | Nov. | Dec. 2012 |

Slideshow of pictures (with music) - Click Here
(Click lower-right corner of show for full screen)

Oct 1

Applied for our visa extensions today and everything went smoothly. Then a drive to check out the hand-painted sign on the highway that said, Apfel Verkauf (Apple Sales) and Süssmost (Apple Cider). Of course, we had to stop. Out came the friendly owner (pix) and with some waving of arms and pointing, we ended up with a bag of apples and 2 liters of apple cider. The cider is GREAT. Do people know about this place?

Oct 2

Today's (pix) looks like a nice community of single-family homes but is, in fact, a showroom of prefabricated houses. There are 40 houses and if you spend 10 minutes in each, it's still over 6 hours to see them all. In each house, all from different builders, sits a sales agent with floor plans and brochures, and a sales pitch. We are told it takes 5 months to prefab the house, 2 days (yes days) to assemble and 3 months to finish. Several were being built during our visit (video).

Oct 3

On this German Reunification Day, we took off for a restaurant in Mannheim called Little Saigon. Dave learned later that they have his favorite, "Bo La Lot" (Beef In Leaf). After lunch, a walk in the neighborhood and nearby Carl Reiss Park, but something strange - a huge pile of firewood with a fence around it (pix). Coming closer, we saw a sign, "Mannheim Celestial Sphere, Prof. Dr. Mo Edoga, Driftwood and Ariadne's Thread."

It wasn't firewood at all, but an art installation, and somebody was there, it was Dr. Mo Edoga himself (pix)! Nigerian born, he received a medical degree from Heidelberg University, practiced medicine in South Africa, and now lives in Mannheim as an artist. He has been working on the "sphere" since 2005. He did an installation in the USA as well. His perfect English and dreadlocks on top of his head made quite a scene (video).

Oct 4

Our day started with a visit to the grand opening of a new Füllhorn BioMarkt (organic) food store, right next to our regular REWE food store. Very nice and lots of free samples. We were also interviewed by a local newspaper reporter! Film at 11. Our (pix) today is from our visit to Sachsenheim, a town we found while touring the back roads, which is on a ridge, while vineyards flow in rows below the town. The largest wine producer in town was Baumgärtner Winery, with winegut (tasting) of course.

Oct 5

Beautiful fall day today. We decided to head back to the new Füllhorn BioMarkt to see if they have cooking pumpkins so Kathy can make a pumpkin pie. Then we found out that Dave and Kathy made headlines in Schwetzingen (pix)! OK, not quite headlines but we were mentioned in the October 5, 2012 Schwetzinger Zeitung (newspaper pdf), under the article, A "Cornucopia" full of delicacies. Click Here to read all about it. Faithful blog readers will remember we were interviewed and quoted in Switzerland on July 30th (Click Here). Yes, we're famous, interviewed and quoted all over Europe.

Oct 6

Day 1 - When you are living in a foreign country, sometimes the simplest things make for a great adventure. For example, David's favorite treat this time of year is Pumpkin Pie, so I’m attempting to make one for him. First I go shopping for canned pumpkin. I know the German word for pumpkin is Kürbis but after a couple of stores I found out they don’t have canned pumpkin, so I’ll have to buy fresh pumpkin and do it the old fashioned way. Dave bought me two very nice pumpkins but alas, they turned out to be jack-o'-lantern pumpkins, so we went to the new Bio store and got the bright orange cooking pumpkins. Success!

Day 2 - I cleaned the pumpkins, saving the seeds, baking them, letting them cool, puree them and then putting the pumpkin through a sieve. OK, back to the stores with my list armed with the correct(?) German words:

Muskatnuss - nutmeg
Ingwer - ginger
Zimt - cinnamon
Gewürznelken - cloves
Verkürzung - shortening
Kondensmilch - evaporated milk
Tortenboden - pie crust
Schlagsahne – whipping cream

One store tells me that they do not have Tortenboden because it is a seasonal item that they only carry in July, so I’ll have to make my own pie crust. Also they are very confused by my request for Verkürzung. Maybe it has something to do with Google translation or my very awful German. Oh well, I find a substitute that I think will work. I am hoping this turns out better than my banana bread that I had to throw out because I bought the wrong sugar. I’m getting nervous now. I’m using a flour type 405, but not sure what that means so I have my fingers crossed. This is turning into an epic journey where I’m really unsure of the outcome. Did I convert grams to cups correctly? Or degrees F to C, or teaspoons and the rest?

Whew, out of the oven and Dave reports the best pumpkin pie he ever had. Actually, it did come out rather well, lots of flavor, added a bit of whipped cream and total delight. And only 6 hours of effort.

Oct 7

Off this morning with our friends Karl and Dagmar Fempel to Baden-Baden and a piano recital in the spectacular Festival Theatre, Germany's largest opera house and concert hall (pix). This recital was recorded and is on the Internet. To view, Click Here. The pianist was Ingolf Wunder, a true artist. Before the recital, a lecture with a very animated presenter (video), explaining a Mozart sonata in terms of male and female.

Karl and Dagmar had a surprise for us after the recital, a visit to Sasbachwalden, to enjoy some lunch and the middle day of their wine festival (pix). Lunch was a traditional Pumpkin Soup and Onion Cake, with some of the local wine. But then the parade started with a "boom" from a cannon, followed by a string of floats decorated with fresh flowers, and, of course, marching bands (video). Some marchers were offering glasses of wine!

Oct 8

After all the excitement of yesterday, we took it easy today with some errands, then lunch in town at a great kabob place, followed by a leisurely beer (pix). Dave worked on an old radio he got at a flea market but, in the end, it has little value except for parts and the original sales receipt from 1935. Dave also has another radio on eBay, one of the "Nazi" radio receivers from 1938.

Oct 9

A cool, rainy day today and the perfect day to explore Bad Schönborn, specifically, the mineral thermal springs and the largest roofed swimming area in Germany (pix). Just 20 minutes from home, I think we'll visit often. There are a total of six (6) pools with various temps, one of which is 15% salt. Many water features, a favorite being the "whirl" pool, a rotating circle of water (video). The facility also has a 1st class restaurant.

Oct 10

The architect Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser created less than 20 buildings in his lifetime but each is unique in his use of color, bits and pieces of tile, and biomorphic forms. In previous travels, we explored Hundertwasser's buildings in Vienna but today, it was Plochingen and his apartment complex, "Living Beneath the Rain Tower" (pix). This (video) shows a quick scan of the complex and a portion of the uneven walkway.

Oct 11

A new breakfast place today, Café Journal, which is right on the Castle Square. Excellent and, as the name suggests, newspapers available to read, and some in English. Today's (pix) is from our visit to the Speyer Technology Museum. Yes, that's a 747 on display. Just go up the spiral stairway. You can also slide down in a tube, if you want. The adjacent Museum Wilhelmsbau was very impressive, mainly, the personal collection of just about everything by a brother and 3 sisters.

Oct 12

After enjoying the thermal on Tuesday, Kathy noted her special ring (pix) was gone. It came off in one of the six pools, so we'll never see it again, we thought. Kathy wrote something to them in English and German, and included her e-mail address, just in case the ring was found. The ring was found and they sent an e-mail! Amazing! We picked it up today. It was carefully packed and noted as to size, color, style and so forth!

Oct 13

Off to the farmer's market for some items, then a drive to our apple cider guy, followed by a visit to a flea market where Dave got a sweater for $4 and Kathy a hat for $2. The real event of the day was a fantastic Persian dinner at the home of Mohammed and Atousa Farkhou (pix). Their stories of Iran, and families they left behind to come to Germany, were the stuff of movies. Also amazing was Mohammed's Lotus racing car (image)!

Oct 14

We decided to follow part of the Bertha Benz Memorial Route today (pix). In 1886, Dr. Carl Benz invented the automobile but when nobody wanted to buy one, his wife, Bertha Benz, went on a trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim, and back again (without his knowledge). For fuel, they used a petroleum distillate sold in drug stores. Bertha lived to be almost 100 years old and the original Benz workshop in Ladenburg is now a Museum.

Oct 15

Lovely lunch today at the Italian Deli and Super Market. They serve homemade Italian specialties and while you eat, you're surrounded by chatter in Italian. We also noted that in the parking lot are some of the biggest automobiles in Schwetzingen. But the big news is that Kathy received her Aufenthaltstitel (Resident Permit) and is now an Aufenthaltserlaubnis (Resident).

Oct 16

Leisurely day today, lunch at the Thai place, Chiang Mai, then home to write some notes in advance of our afternoon appointment with Katja Bauroth (pix), the managing editor of the local newspaper, Schwetzinger Zeitung. Katy is writing an article about our Home Exchange. We had a lovely visit with Katy, found out she was raised and educated in Leipzig in (formerly) East Germany, and she made us a cake (you can see the plates)!

Oct 17

Off to Amsterdam where we bought a ChipCard for the tram/metro/bus. In use, you must enter only a single door and "swipe" your card, then when leaving (any door) swipe again. There is a ticket booth with a person on every single tram, metro, and bus. Our studio apartment (pix) is right on a canal with a tour boat passing every 30 minutes, and across from a windmill that is a beer microbrewery. You can't get much more Amsterdam than this. Thanks Marie!

Oct 18

We took off for breakfast at the Dutch Pancake House and to see the tulip bulb shops (pix). The pancake house didn't open until 10:30am, so we found something else. Next, some tram riding (#5) and we were amazed to see so many old homes, canals, and boats. In the evening, we went to the Concertgebouw for dinner (pre-concert talk by cellist Gregor Horsch) and a concert. Note: Bicycles have their own lane and here's why (video) you look both ways.

Oct 19

The day started with a visit to the Waterlooplein Flea Market where Dave got another (of course) telephone, Kathy some nice earrings, and then some designer coat hooks from India. The next stop was to the Hermitage Museum, which has the temporary collection of Van Gogh paintings. It was humbling to see the brush strokes, the colors, and each painting (there were 70) bursting with energy. A favorite was Bedroom in Arles (pix).

After the museum, we jumped on a canal boat for a tour of some of the canals (video), and then to the Spui area (video) where we found the semi-secret doorway to the peaceful and quiet Begijnhof (Beguines' Court) (pix) (video). The Beguine are religious woman who have helped the needy continuously since 1346. Even today they rent rooms in the courtyard buildings, and only women can live in the Begijnhof.

Oct 20

Saturday is market day in Amsterdam. We started with the Dapper Street Market, just 1 block away from our apartment, then on to the better-known, and larger, Albert Cuyp Street Market, where Kathy found a great piece of jewelry. Next we took the free ferry across the IJ Lake to find out what that modern white building was. It's a movie complex called The Eye (pix).

After enjoying a beer at The Eye outdoor café, we strolled around a bit, including the Recycling Museum - free admittance if you bring 4 plastic bottles. In the evening, off to the Bimhuis (pix), a jazz venue where we also had perfectly prepared Sea Bass dinners. The jazz featured the Hermine Deurloo Quartet. See our (video) clip for the day.

Oct 21

We departed Amsterdam for the small town of Dinther, where we found some lovely homes for sale and De Koekenbakkers (The Pancake Bakers) for lunch. The owner, Mark, pointed out the Kilsdonkse Windmill in the distance, which we visited. Unique in Holland, this is a dual water/wind mill and operates every Saturday making oil from, for example, sunflower seeds. There has been a mill on this spot since the year 1,233.

Oct 22

Day of rest after so much recent activity. Dave got caught up on several Internet activities, while Kathy went food shopping and made an excellent split-pea soup. Then we took a walk in the nearby Schwetzingen Palace Gardens, which is looking lovely in the fall colors. The neatly trimmed trees by the Mosque Garden pathway are especially lovely (pix). With a change in our dinner plans, we tried the Indian Restaurant near the SAP complex in Walldorf.

Oct 23

Garden work today to clear out the old tomato plants and sunflower plants. Then Dave worked out the details for our trip to Paris tomorrow, finally, with the sun blazing down, another walk in the Schwetzingen Palace Gardens (pix). Most of the statues in the gardens are replicas, while the originals are on display inside a building.

Oct 24

Driving to Paris, we stopped to have a picnic lunch when we saw the sign, "American Cemetery." It was the Argonne American Cemetery from World War 1. As we walked through the seemingly endless rows of tombstones of young men who gave their lives here in 1918, nearly 15,000 bright white monuments, we knew each was a person, a life, and with a sense of incalculable sorrow, we sat silently with tears running down our cheeks.

            Anthem for Doomed Youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
             Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Oct 25

Lots of sunshine today for our stroll through the Marché Bastille Thursday market (video), then a Japanese lunch at Sukliyaki, and on to the largest park in Paris, Parc de la Villette. You can't miss La Géode (pix), which is an Omnimax theatre, then a visit to an art installation by Pascale Tayou. The guide said we just missed getting tickets at $20 for a rock group previewing a concert tour. It was The Rolling Stones (read all about it).

Oct 26

Off to Paris for a second breakfast at Starbucks on Boulevard Saint-Michel in the Latin Quarter, then to a used LP record store in search of André Tchaikowsky recordings (found none), a Vietnamese lunch and an Italian dinner rounded out the dining and side trips. The main event of the day was an entire afternoon at the Pompidou Museum of Modern Art, one of the worlds most significant art galleries, a very impressive building and display of art.

We basked in an impressive array of works by Joan Miró (pix is Bathing Woman 1925), Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Man Ray, and virtually all the great artists from about 1900 to 1960s. And this was all on a level 5 of a 6-level facility. Level 4 continues from 1960s to present day, while level 6 was a current exposition by Bertrand Lavier. Perhaps Lavier's best known work is "Refrigerator with Stone" (pix) but, is this tongue-in-cheek or what? And there was video art by Lavier as well, but Dave thought, "I can do that and even better." Thus, came into creation Dave's video called "Mouvement," which you can view (video). After 4 hours at the museum, we headed back home.

Oct 27

We started the day at the huge flea market at Porte de Vanves (metro of the same name). Dave even saw a old telephone that he didn't buy! We got "lost" by walking through unknown Paris neighborhoods, finding an interesting area around Metro Convention. We seem to like the 14th and 15th districts. Then on the way home, a stop by one of the largest food chains in Paris, a Picard store (pix). Notice anything? Everything is frozen solid. They only sell frozen food.

Oct 28

Sunshine today as we went into Paris. Lunch at La Défense was probably the worst meal in Paris EVER. Things improved with a great organ recital at La Trinité, the church where Olivier Messiaen was organist some years ago. Today's (pix) is where we're living in Vaujours (3rd floor). Our host family is Stéphane and Perrine. While they would love to live in Paris district 14, a comparable apartment is Paris would be 5x more expensive than in Vaujours, which is 30 minutes outside Paris.

Oct 29

Left Vaujours this morning for our return trip to Schwetzingen, but on the back roads to see if we might discover anything. Mais oui! Château de Nogentel (pix), just off the N4 highway in Neuvy, France (1 hour to Paris). They have many gîte possibilities, my favorite, the Chambre "Marquise de la Coudrelle" in the right-hand tower, 2nd floor. Price is $65 a night or $385 a week. No breakfast but a full kitchen is available, and the common room, "Comtesse d'Ambrugeac." Très bon.

Oct 30

Yikees! While we were gone, a full-page article appeared in the Schwetzingen newspaper about our home exchange (pix). Click Here to see a PDF copy (in German, of course). Click Here for an English translation. Our neighbor came over today with a loaf of fresh-made bread and a copy of the newspaper, just for us. To celebrate, we just had to make a slide show (video) with music from the CD epic, Mein Schwetzingen.

Oct 31

                   The Lesson - by Kathy
The leaves in a last burst of energy spill their life into the world,
Not with sadness but with intense colors of red, gold, orange,
And when their color fades and they cannot resist the cold wind they are,
Torn from the branch without a cry without expectations,
They simply surrender and fall gracefully to the earth.