Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Temples, candy, fairy-tales, oh my!

Last Saturday the YSAs in this huge area went to the Frankfurt temple to do baptisms. I was so excited - this is something I know and love and understand. Walking on the grounds was fantastic, the building was exquisite, and the experience lovely. One of the missionaries asked me if it was weird to do the work in german, and I said, "not really. Different language, different building, same spirit, same love." Next time, though, I'll remember to plug my nose on the way down. :)

This store is AMAZING! it's a big candy store in the university district. I love it. Picture an off the wall shop. Dark and a little dank inside, thick carpets cover the floors, and it's really narrow. Lined with jars and jars of all different types of candies. SO FUN! I tried this interesting thing unique to france - it was a lychee/pear jelly square. mmmm it was yummy. When you come to Heidelberg, I highly reccommend this place. it's Plock 52, just off the Hauptsrasse. The best part though? The guy in the dentist's chair in the window display, warning you of the ills of too much candy. hahahahaaaa
This is an aerial view of where I work. You see the main facility at center, the telescopes at left, and then this little building to the right? I live in that building to the right. It's a great place.
The forest near me is stunning. I love to walk around, find new trails, and see those silly red/copper squirrels running around. Last summer I had a love affair with the arboretum at U of I. This fall, I'm in love with the Marchen Paradesie.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

scratch that...

Last post was silly. this one is more... esoteric.
Now, there is a good word. Esoteric. I've been playing with word for weeks. Love it. You can almost feel the meaning when you say it, you know?

"the leaves are changing & so can you. NEW SCHOOL. NEW JOB. NEW LOVE. NEW LIFE. autumn calls for reinvention, a change of scenery. don’t hold back. cut your hair, tell her you love her, tell him you’re leaving, start a band, leave your job, switch your major, do what makes you feel good. the choices you make now will pave the way for the rest of your life. does that always have to be a negative thing? no no no no no no!!! don’t be frightened, things will work out. throw your heart into it & hold your chin up high. we’re going to make a beautiful future. this is the start of something remarkable."

Thank you stranger of the blogging world. (

I just loved that quote. Some people feel the most remarkable things, and are able to express it with the most fantastic words. I'm not one of those people; I find what others say. I think I prefer it that way.
Me=maven: the rest of the blogging community=artistic.

"Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

Random Post

Let me paint you a picture.

I live up on the top of a mountain. It's awesome. There's not much to do up here besides wander around the forest, go to work, and other random things I can think up while in my apartment at night. (Typically trying out new recipes, reading, writing in my journal, or engaged in my bad habit - watching NCIS.) I love it.

Today I am feeling happy. More than content, less than excited... I landed on happy. Yep, that's the ticket.

The squirrels here are red. Well, more of a copper color. This color. So cool.

FYI: booking a room at a hostel in Munich a week before you go, at the height of Oktoberfest = not gonna happen unless you want to sleep at the "Hangover Hostel - Come sleep it off with us!" Yeah, riiiiight.

Riding Betty down the mountain was probably not a good idea. Steep, long switchbacks... I rode my breaks the whole way down. The one time I did stop, there was a mysterious odor coming from the bike. I looked - and lo and behold! - Betty was smokin'!! literally. I wore my breaks out that much.

... ...

This post is completely pointless. I just wanted to update all of you with useless information. You are all excused from commenting.

P.S. Am I the only one in the world that thinks Abby and Gibbs should be together? Stupid NCIS drama.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tara and Schwetzingen!

A picture is worth a thousand words. I'm going to let my pictures do the talking, and hopefully they'll descirbe how beautiful Schwetzingen is.
If something romantic does not happen to me at Schwetzingen in my lifetime, I may die a sad woman. :)
Seriously, one of the most lovely spots on earth.
In the Aviary.
Walking to the bath-house...which we weren't allowed to take pictures of, but which was so baroque in style that it took my breath away!

This is Betty my bike! She likes to go exploring with me. :)
Last week, Tara came up for a visit! We had our first schnitzels together. it was YUMMY!

on the Philosopher's Walk.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"How do you live each day with this kind of passion? Don't you find it exhausting?"

Kudos to you if you know the movie reference for the title of this entry.
Next line: "Only when I'm around you."
My line: "No. I find it invigorating."

Since coming to Germany, I am astounded, constantly, at what I am doing. Is this my life? Am I really living a bazillion miles away from people I know and love? Am I seriously in a place where I don't understand the language? Is my home referred to as 'the fairytale paradise', even by the locals? Does my neighborhood honestly contain a real castle, a palace where the Prince-Electors of German history resided? Is my town the singularly most beautiful town in the region?

YES! yes to it all!

Do I participate in research that is exciting? That is over my head, and fun, and confusing, and interesting, and important, and everything that research should be? Have I been uniquely blessed? So much beyond what I actually deserve? [WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY beyond it. leagues, miles, light years and parsecs beyond what i deserve...]

again, YES.

I find myself invigorated by my experiences here. I have found so many opportunities. I am going all around europe in the near future. I have seen much of Heidelberg, and i LOVE it.

Do I find it exhausting? No. I find myself rising to the occasion, snatching opportunities and creating them as the come. The passion that brought me here - to do research in a professional setting in Europe - is one that will make the experience rich. I have filled a third of a journal, writing about every single experience, because I can't forget anything. Any detail, emotion, feeling, building, experience, or encounters.

I wish I had a talent with words. That I was eloquent enough to describe everything to you. But I don't. And since the internet is still down at my place, I cannot upload pictures - which, as we all know are worth a 1000 words, and more adequately express feeling.

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” –Cesare Pavese

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” – Freya Stark

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

Thursday, September 10, 2009


The internet is down at my place. I post this from work, where i am taking a sanity break. I have been reading IRAF command language, and polarization information all day... my eyes are tired!!

Imagine that this is an amazing post. one where i put up pictures of my new bike - complete with basket and bell!! i'm so european. it's red, pretty, 2nd-hand, and FUN! did i mention that getting a bus pass was a complete and total nightmare, and that i hate hate hated it??? So i just solved that dumb problem and bought a bike!!! aaaaah.... sweet freedom. Now, i'm not dependent on time schedules, i don't have to play with the german-only ticket machines, and i don't have to deal with BO.
Truly, I have a an amazing life.


[pictures soon]
yay for colorful posts!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Super Saturday!

Yesterday was an intense day. I woke up early, walked all around town (literally....north, south, east, west... i traversed all of Heidelberg!). But it was a good day! Let me tell you all about it.

I decided that hiking down to town through the forest would be a good idea. It was a long hike, and sometimes I felt like Snow White with all the funny forest sounds I kept hearing. The forest here is so beautiful, did I mention that? Anyway, I got lost in the forest for about an hour. Well, not literally lost, I just didn't know the path I should take. I followed the general direction. Luckily, I made it into town just fine... and it only took an hour! (this is a big deal - it takes 30 mins to get to town on the BUS.)
I walked around the Hauptstrasse because it was market day - i LOVE market day! there are so many fun things. Anyway, I saw about four couples taking wedding photos... what a gorgeous day to get married. I was finally able to get into the big church on the main square and take pictures. That church is amazing... I have to get back inside. :)
Once I was done with that mission, I decided to hike to the Philosopher's Walk and Heilgenberg. Both very lovely. Heidelberg is famous for the Philosopher's Walk. Great minds in 1800's came to Heidelberg and loved it quite a bit. They would walk through the vineyards on the hillside, and this walk was named after them. It's a really gorgeous walk, full of gardens, terrced flower beds, and great views of the city.
Next, the hike up to Heilgenberg. Heilgenberg has some amazing sights, and I really wanted to see them. First, the Celtic Ruins. The top of the mountain has some ancient ruins from the Celts that lived there around 400-200BC. There is not much left - an old well, and a wall were all I saw. Still, it was fascinating to be around history like that. The well was over 55m deep! (that's more than half a football field!!) and it was easily the width and breadth of a human being all the way down. So cool.
Next, a little way up the trail is St. Stephens Cloister. It was built in 1094, but abandoned in the 1300s. It's still cool. Completely run down, and trees growing all through it... I felt like I was in a gothic novel. The tower is the only thing that remains intact... more on why later. To get to the top of the tower, I had to climb up 3 flights of windy staircase. Did i mention how that makes me dizzy, but I love it anyway??
Further up the hill is the Thingstätt. Built in 1934, it was used for NAZI propaganda for the youth of the third reich. They used the stones from the abandoned cloisters nearby (that's why only the foundations remain). It is HUGE. It seats over 8000. It was kind of scary to be there, and know what sort of mentality was espoused there, and what it was used for. That being said, the sheer size was amazing, and it would be a good place for a play - the acoustics were amazing.
Next, St. Michael's cloister at the tippy top! This thing is HUGE! kids play hide-and-go-seek, it's so big. I liked this one for it's design and roman influence. so cool! I can't believe I walked around and saw physical evidence of people who lived there thousands of years ago. I love history.
Lastly, last night was the tri-annual lighting of the castle! The castle has been burned down three times. So, to commemorate, Heidelberg lights the castle up three times a year, and shoots off amazing fireworks. It was sooooo cool! Imagine... it's completely dark outside, then the lights around town go out. BOOM, you're in total darkness. Then, 1, 2, 3 verticle streaks of light shoot into the sky. Next, the castle blazes to life in orange and red lights - it's on fire!!! slowly growing brighter and brighter... then it dims as the fire fades. Now it's time for fireworks. BOOM boomboomboomboomboom!!! they are lighting those things off as fast and loud as possible. The show lasts about 15 minutes, and it's a real doozy.
Finally, it's home for a late night glass of milk, a shower, and bed.
Yesterday was amazing!!
the thingstätt. it's so huge, you just can't believe it.
St. Michael's cloister.
the tower of St. Stephen's cloister. That's me at the tippy-top!
View of the valley from the Philosopher's Walk. You can barely make out the communication towers at the top of the hill. I live just below those. Yep, I walked down that mountain, and up the one on the otherside of the river. Long hike. :)
Window in the main-square church. I really need to learn it's name...