Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuddern, Our New Town

I don't know why, but the days here are lasting forever. We have so much to do but we're limited because our cars aren't here yet. We're relying upon our friends heavily, and thank goodness for them. We are also fortunate to have some great neighbors who have helped us a lot in the past two days. They offered to drive us around to look at houses yesterday morning and, lucky us, we found ours!

The first appointment we went to was in a remote village. The landlady was an older German grandma-type. The house was huge and she didn't mind asking us (in German-- our friend translated) if we have children. When we said we don't, she replied, "Ohhhhhh no. This house is too big for you." We've noticed that all of the homes are on the large side here though. They typically have a large square footage, not including a fully-finished basement and upper level. We were worried we weren't going to find anything in a size that fits us.

Our next appointment was in a great little village called Tuddern. We've been hearing about Tuddern since we arrived. It's right on the border with the Netherlands, specifically a town called Sittard. This is the perfect European place I've been picturing. I'll be able to ride my bike to the market on Thursdays and Saturdays, go for coffee at a nice little shop, and have lunch at sidewalk cafes when the weather is nice.

Our landlords are an older German couple but their son, Arndt, will be our main contact. Fortunately for us, his English is almost perfect! The house has a big master bedroom, guest room, and another room we'll use as an office. The yard is great and there's even a garage so my husband can do manly things. The kitchen is nice and our dining room and living room are huge! Windows are everywhere and we can't wait until our November 15th move-in date.

We spent all of today at the Family Readiness Center doing base-processing. It covered everything from finance to deployments to how to sort your garbage when you live in Germany (more complicated than you might imagine). It was a lot of good information but now I'm left with that first-day-of-class headache that always seems to happen when you've been sitting in a room staring at PowerPoint presentations for hours.

This afternoon we met with Arndt and his father to sign our pre-lease agreement. We arrived promptly and knocked on the door of a beautiful, massive house in a village just outside Tuddern. We stood outside for a while waiting. Finally a neighbor across the street walked over and told us we should knock on the door on the side of the house. We made our way around and noticed it was a huge workshop. We eventually knocked on the correct door and were welcomed into a massive warehouse-type building by Arndt's brother, Thomas. We asked what kind of shop it was and at that moment Arndt came walking out and said, "A blacksmith shop!"

And it really was! A no-kidding, old-fashioned, full-fledged blacksmith shop nestled in the verdant farmlands of Germany. I'm still experiencing these moments that make me feel like I'm on a film set. Arndt told us his grandfather began the business and it's still going strong after three generations. He even showed us a photo album of ironwork they've made. It's incredible.

Arndt's father, Herr Busch, soon came in to sign the agreement. He cheerily extended his hand and said, "Hallo. Busch." He then apologized because he only speaks German and we apologized for only speaking English, with Arndt translating. We completed all of the paperwork in a glass-encased room Arndt called the Winter Garden. It was perfect and idyllic. They even have the perfect German dog. Her name is Ophelia and Arndt said, "When she is bad, we say, 'Ohhhhhh, Phelia!'"

Tomorrow it's more paperwork for my husband at the base. I'm studying for my driver's test and I also need to get serious about learning German. It feels weird to be unsettled. We've been living out of our suitcases for over a month now. We're already tired of being in the guest house, especially now that we've seen our permanent house and have started imagining what it will look like with all of our things.

The weather has been nice the past few days but I keep hearing that it will soon take a turn. The last two winters were apparently harsh so people are prepared for an early snow. I definitely don't have the wardrobe for these conditions. It hasn't even gone below the 30s yet and I'm already wearing my heaviest winter coat! But if everything goes well, we'll be in our own house, with our own blankets and Snuggies (courtesy of my brother) by the time winter really comes.

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