Posted in Thoughts, Timeline, Travel

We are happy to announce an addition to our family

She joined us today on May 19th 2020. Her name is MACIA. Parents and child are doing well, she is ~250 years old, more than 500m wide and many many tons heavy. As you can imagine from the numbers, the delivery was a tough one. She was almost 9 months in the making and we now have to say, the last trimester was tough. The doctors predicted a very late birth, but two project managers, one delivery agent and a lawyer allowed us to convince Macia to join us now, on time. We are super excited to have her in our family now and can’t wait to see what she will develop into.
Macia-House-S

 

A new member never arrives late or early, It arrives precisely when it means to….

gandalf zeichnung

Posted in Thoughts, Timeline, Travel

confined – quarantined – in a place that is so close to our happy place

We are finally where we want to be, or at least close to it. Casentino finally has us back. We are so so grateful to be here. Times are changing and life seems pretty difficult right now. Not only for us, but I really only see our life right now, with very little exception. Monday we took the SIXT rental car with Italian license plates and were sent on our way by Doris and Andy at 8.45. The car pretty loaded with our two suitcases and two bags, then a lot of food for the upcoming quarantine. A mid-size folder with a lot of documents. We tried to make sure we have all the documents needed to convince the Italian border patrol officer to let us enter the country. Let the occasional police check be happy with our reasoning to enter the country. It is not for fun or Beach. It is to buy our house. So we were prepared and ready, fill in a short paper on the Austrian border to state we are not stopping for any reason and just driving through. OK, 1 1/2 hours later I expected to see something like this but tougher and more stringent to cross into Italy. The country hit the hardest in the EU by CORVID-19. So we are getting to the top of the Brenner pass, signs start reading in the Italian language, and we come to realize there are no border checks. None what so ever. There were a lot of trucks but only the occasional car. We felt like we were the only ones. Weird and not a place I like to be. But nothing happened, no-one looked at us, checked us, checked any of our papers, no-one checked our temperature as we enter Italy. Crazy in my opinion. But we knew what we wanted to do and where to go, so off we went. Italy here we come. We went into one glass station along the whole route of about 900km. With pee breaks and one local shopping trip, we arrived at our destination in 11 1/2 hours.
We could not believe it. We actually made it. Our rented house was just like we remembered. All we had to do was to register ourselves with the local municipality to start out 14 days of quarantine. That was done via email and worked like a charm. Nationality, health insurance, address of your stay, start off your quarantine and we were off to the Quarantine races.
I was exhausted. After a full day of driving and the nerve-wracking border crossing that was an anti-climax as you can have it, I managed to squeeze a beer in and dropped to bed hard after Mumu’s cooked dinner. I slept long and good, some breakfast and looking around, only to go for a nap in the early afternoon. I was still exhausted. We explored the area a little that afternoon, trying to be careful not to meet anyone on our route. The house is literally in the forest and among fields. So we had an easy time avoiding the company. It is so beautiful here. Pasta dinner. and more deep sleep.
We managed to have a local love cat right on our door and it seemed she was in need of some attention. So nice. I am getting up now earlier and try to go for a walk in the early morning. The light is so nice and it opens the day really well for me. So much nice sun today and we went on another hike together in the afternoon. There we finally saw maybe 10 locals sitting on their bench chatting the local chat. All with masks and all happy to see us wearing masks too. There was a lot more than 2m distance between us. It seemed these people are now officially scared. Scared of anything anyone new and unknown. Who can blame them!!?? We will try and make our way to our hopeful future home tomorrow. By foot and through hiking trails only. If we encounter any number of people, we will turn around. It is not our intention to infect anyone. The woods are empty.
In the meantime, the money finally arrived in the German bank account. What a relief!!! I think this was the last hurdle of any size I can see between us and the house. But who knows what comes tomorrow, what comes next.
I did learn to plan for stuff going wrong in all this time. Have a plan, then at least a plan B. If the result is existential, think a plan C through all the way and be ready to go execute this one. I am a pretty positive thinker, this whole process drove me to the limit of what I can do. Simply put, if it is not important and urgent, I would not even think about it for the last 5 months. Not even close. Calling friends, fixing the car, selling the car on time, bringing the right clothes for the 3 months it will take to get other ones, none of this qualified as important. For the last 5 months, existential problems qualified as important to receive my attention. Will we be health insured, will we have the money available in the geography we need it, …… I am tired of it now. I will not do this again. This was too much and I want it too finally stop and I can switch to cruising mode.
These 2 weeks quarantine will serve me well for a recharge and a reset. I can just walk the woods, read something, lie in the sun, ….. and not think of ANYTHING existentially important. What a change what a relief. I want to spend some time with friends, riding, hiking, laughing, drinking, and just having fun.
We are so close, still two weeks away from signing.

Let it happen.

Posted in Timeline, Travel

Planning our Italy entry

Google Pictures LINK

I am here, at my sister’s place, in her RV since March 15 now. Mumu joined me on March 18th. 6 weeks and counting we are slowly transitioning from way below freezing temperatures here, to now almost Californian standards. For temperatures, that is. We had two short episodes of rain, just a few millimeters of precipitation. It seems to me, Germany is drying out. Blue Sky almost every day. We took our Italian training camp pretty seriously here. Starting from Pizza and Pasta to Aperol Spritz and Campari Orange, Tiramisu, and late-night talks with Family (and no friends). Sewing baking aprons and Corona masks were part of the drill as well. In the times between all this training, I was calling around for establishing Health Insurance (thank you SBK) planing for additional health Coverage (Hanse Merkur and LVM), failing again to transfer money from the USA to the Stadtsparkasse via wire and having to send a paper check here, only to have to wait for 4 (FOUR) weeks for it to hopefully materialize into money in our account here. Then establishing a backup money transfer route with Transferwise and failing because of another US bank restriction. Trying fo the 3rd version of money transfer I am now in possession of a Deutsche Bank account and still hope to get it done with this though the 1st attempt failed again for a missing US connecting bank SWIFT code being needed. The bank official never had to do this before. I will see what Monday will bring on that front. Then some more Italy training, some prosecco and lots of smiles and fun with my sister and husband. Then was a “fee” to pay for our stay. Mow the lawn, carry these pavers from here to there, straighten this driveway, remove the tree, the bush, the roses, ….. So many people tell me they were BORED during the COVID-19 confinement times. No boredom here. I still had to squeeze in my cycling Italy training camp too. I was granted access to my Mom’s pretty new 7 speed Bicycle for this task. Not really a speed demon, by any stretch of the imagination. I was able to teach it some new tricks. The bike rack disintegrated in the process but a rubber strap allowed the finish of the ride that day. The fenders started rattling and scratching too loudly to ignore. I could fix it on the fly. After the first few rides feeling really awkward and me being ill-prepared for riding this beast, we are becoming friends now. We make some Mountainbikes roll their eyes when flying down trails way too bumpy for my steel stallion, others huff and puff next to us when we pass them on the way up. Not too many, but it made me happy to create this reaction with the tool available under my butt. Not to forget the Birkenstock as my preferred racing shoes. Always cracks people up. I moved from racing thongs (Flip-Flops) to Birkenstock for temperature reasons…..

We are now preparing to enter Italy. Not an easy feat, let me tell you. Mentally as well as organizing it. Our Furniture is already in Poppi. The container arrived and was unloaded ahead of schedule at Decor Tuscany in their warehouse. Now we want to follow to be able to sign the purchase contract on May 19th. Calling around in Germany from one Italian Consulate to the next, I finally spoke to a person. A competent person. There is a real chance we might make it across the border into Italy, but he could not be sure, everything is so dynamic. I will call Thursday next week again, just days before Italy is supposed to slowly open the restrictions a little for business and movement of people. My plan is to rent a car and drive from Nuernberg to Poppi, crossing Austria, and entering Italy. Seems easy during regular times. What will the border patrol people ask us, what documentation will we need to be able to cross these border into Austria and into Italy? Most likely we will be in confinement for 2 weeks after entering Italy and getting to Poppi. We plan to stay on our friends Farm, in our separate house. If we play it right and everything works the way planned, we will be JUST ready to sign the papers for buying the house of our dreams on May 19th. Entry May 4th, 14days confinement ==> May 19th. To be sure we can buy the property, wether we can enter Italy or not, we will establish a Power of Attorney. Francesco would sign for us in this case. All this is only possible because we think we fended off a push from the seller of the house to postpone the sale date of the house. For reasons that can only be labeled unreasonable and maybe even ridiculous, the woman of the sibling selling party wanted to postpone the sale till June 30th or later. Two calls of a lawyer later, we THINK we have her back in line.

Hurdles after hurdles. I am getting a little tired of it now. I just want to move into this place and think about myself, ourselve. Not of Legal, money, Virus, healthcare or any problems. I am DONE with problem-solving for a week or so….Maybe. I hope.

Italy, we are coming, let us in. PLEASE.

Posted in Thoughts, Timeline

Thoughts about and during CORVID-19

Google Pictures LINK

Stay at Home

It is now 4 weeks since I am hunkered down in Nuernberg Germany. Mumu is with me and that is a true blessing. We are still staying with my sister and her husband, in their RV in their yard. We are lucky enough to be within shouting distance of the “Reichswald” and the Northerly direction gives access to the “Fraenkische Schweiz” a Rock climbing paradise and hiking/biking network to dream of. This is now coupled with a very disciplined German society that takes Government imposed restrictions seriously and follows these in most cases. So do we. Only groups that are allowed are with Family members you stay with. You are not allowed to meet ANYONE, not even one outside this circle. Keeping a distance of at least 1.5m, better 2m to anyone at all times is the code of conduct. This is not 100% possible in stores, but most people try hard. The government seems to lead the public exceptionally well. Information is provided with urgency, transparency, and competence. As a result, the people feel being treated as responsible adults and in return respond like responsible adults, MOSTLY. You hear reports about some “Corona parties”, and a group that tries to intimidate and distract Police here, but the state does not seem to lose control of the situation. The stores are filled with goods we need to live and live very well. ==> We are not where we want to be, but we feel fortunate to be here and well kept. The case chart shows the result of the measures taken. On top of it all, I was able to get back into the German Health insurance system. It was not easy and took 3 weeks of calls, letters, and emails. But now Mumu and I are again fully Health insured, which seems like one of the main things you want to have today. Transferring the money we need for the house purchase was as painful as it was for the downpayment. I still have to understand what the problem is. But it is on the way to Germany now. Next in line to organize, finalizing the transfer of ownership of the house. With Italy having closed the borders for more than one month, we don’t know when or how we can go down to sign for the transfer and move in. We figured out a way to do the signature and payment remotely, if this is necessary, which is a HUGE relief. Come Tuesday, I will try to connect with an Italian Consulate here and see how we can arrange for us to be towards the front of the line as soon as the border opens back up.

FUN

Mumu and I run almost every day a little bit, right here in the area, right from the house. This helps with the thought of being “stuck” and helps with complacency. I discovered I can even have some biking fun with a bike that does not at all fit me and is anything but a performance bike. I am using my Mom’s 7-speed city bike and can teach it some new tricks. Biking with Mumu a few times too seems to rub off some two-wheeled excitement ;-). We have also ventured out one day to do a “Via Ferrata” or Klettersteig one day. With one harness for Mumu from the neighbor we ventured out and Mumu was apprehensive before, but now wants to do another one soon. I hope this trend continues. Rock climbing is so much fun and you get to do it at any level and any age. and the risk is virtually zero to get hurt. The area of the “Fraenkische Schweiz” is known for its rock climbing potential and we are just south of it all. Then there is asparagus, another local highlight. It’s white asparagus and we happen to be “stuck here” just in the season of it coming out. It is in season only for ~4 weeks and it is truly delicious. My Mom was generous enough to buy enough for all of us, and we had one amazing fulfilling meal. Then we had another asparagus soup the next day and it was an excellent reminder of how good the meal, just 15h before was.

I am shopping for my Mom, but mostly stay at a distance and out of her house, to keep her as safe as can be. Sometimes a trip to the area for a little hike is needed to keep the ceiling from falling on her head. But she is a smart woman who can take care of herself very well.

Thoughts

During all this time, I read and listened to a lot of smart commentary. Some original, some translated from German. Here we go.


Alles wurde schon gesagt, nur noch nicht von allen.

Everything was said already, just not yet by everyone.

Karl Valentin


Mögen hätt ich schon wollen, aber dürfen hab ich mich nicht getraut.

I would have liked to want, but did not dare to be allowed to.

Karl Valentin


Fremd ist der Fremde nur in der Fremde.

The foreigner is only foreign in the a foreign area.

Karl Valentin


Der Mensch ist gut, die Leute schlecht.

The human is good, people are bad.

Karl Valentin


For our current epidemic of “not offending anyone” I thought this one fits very well. “Es ist unmoeglich, die Fackel der Wahrheit durch ein Gedraenge zu tragen, ohne jemandem den Bart zu versengen” Georg Christoph Lichtenberg


I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better” Georg Christoph Lichtenberg


It is easier to believe in a lie you heard 1000 times than the truth you only heard once” Abraham Lincoln


Lies can start wars, truths on the other hand can stop complete armies” Otto von Bismarck


“So Saudi Arabia is not a dictatorship for you, but a kingdom? That is easy to confuse with each other” Tilo Jung


“Only the lie needs the assistance of the state, the truth stands straight by itself” Benjamin Franklin


History offers a few true facts, information becomes much less reliable the closer we get to today. (Book)


“Conviction is a bigger enemy to truth than lies” Friedrich Nietzsche


“The lie made it three times around the globe till the truth had time to put on it’s boots” Mark Twain


The so-called “experts” on TV don’t define themselfs through the mastery of their respective subject, but through loud repetition of their opinion. (Book)


What goes wrong in journalism today? To summarize: It’s the proximity of political journalism and the operators of politics. – Stephan Hebel

Posted in Timeline, Travel

Being home without a home

Google Pictures LINK

What a surreal time we are all going through these last few weeks and some already do it What a surreal time we are all going through these last few weeks, and some already do it for months. CORVID-19 is showing us how fragile our lifestyle is, how dependent we are on others, on systems, and the neighbor. It is also showing us how fast we can make dramatic changes in our lives and still live pretty well. Many of us transitioned from our regular daily life into confinement and lockdown, from busy everyday life and complaining about “small” disturbances to our routine into a highly confined and constrained life, all within a week or two. I did not yet hear anyone complain about it either. I listen to statements of how surreal and how uprooting it all is. I understand how hard it is for so many businesses, how hard it is on your own business. What we do to cope with it, what adjustments we make to stay motivated and able to interact with one another. How do we go through this phase of becoming an introvert? How do we work on ourselves on our mind to try to understand what just happened and how we are planning to move forward through the next days and weeks. —- I have not heard a real big fat complaint yet. —- And it is the same with me. I feel super lucky to have “landed” in my sister’s property in Germany, in her yard, in her RV during this time. Just a few days later, Mumu was able to make it here as well. Travel restrictions and the pure speed of booking a ticket and flying the next day made it impossible to bring our dog Brioche as well. We took the great offer from friend of ours. She offered to take care of her, and now she is again on a different continent than we are. Not ideal, far from perfect! But still, it was a solution, and we think the best solution for us at the time. We also did not complain. Strange to me how all that goes. This Virus seems to really put our emotions and rational brain at attention and work well. Many of us now do what is best for us, what is best for all of us. We can make decisions that impact our lives dramatically and impact it for an extended time period. They also affect our wallet pretty significantly, and we still do it.

We are HOMELESS right now. I am in my hometown Nuernberg, but literally between homes. Muriel is not even @ home but still does not have a home. We will have to see when we can travel down south to Italy into the Casentino Valley to receive our container with Furniture and start the process of planning work on the house, then finally owning it and getting to work on it. This seems all to be far far out at the moment. Just planing the next day, the next week is nearly impossible. We don’t know what will come down on us, what others do to help contain this Virus, what others do to enable it to spread more and more rapidly. It is something I am having a hard time with. My little brain is not very good at dealing with this many unknowns. My intellect tells me to stop trying to plan, there is no point as it is too variable, but I catch myself doing it several times a day.

With all this important stuff that I can’t analyze and make real actionable sense off, I am moving into focussing on the NOW. How ZEN of me. But it is the ONLY thing that matters at this point, and really, it is the only thing that matters at any point in our life. Tweaking my small life to what is available to me today, what I can do, and influence. I can make excellent dinner for Mumu and Doris and Andy. Taking care of my Mom best I can, visiting her, talking to her, buying groceries for her….. Baking some bread for her. It’s all I can do, and I know it. It’s still hard to deal with it and be ok with it. It seems so little, and yet all there is.

Posted in Thoughts, Timeline, Travel

Selling our home – escaping Corona, in a HURRY

It took us 4 weeks to prepare the house for sale. What a trip, so much work. But on true silicon valley style, we had a buyer, 6 days before we put it on the market. The Mexican connection somehow worked is magic and a couple of the neighborhood walked by and we had an offer on the table the next day. Right where we wanted to have it $$ wise. Accepted it 4 weeks later and some smaller troubled later we had it sold and the money in the bank. What a trip. Timing could not have been better as the US seems to go into a CORVID-19 panic a few days after. Good to sell, good to have cash, good to be out.

CORVID-19 caused many of the retail shelfs to be cleaned out in only two days. Mumu and I decided to pull in the schedule of our departure by 2 weeks and booked tickets. One day later we receive an email the flight is cancelled. So we decide to split up and have me head out today, Mumu trying to get the right vaccinations for Brioche, sell the car and come right after me, if still possible. We just have to be able to receive the container with our stuff in Italy, middle of April somehow. My exit feels rushed and now a little lonely. Without Mumu and without Brioche. SFO has a dystopian look to it today. So so empty.

Germany here I come.

Posted in Thoughts, Timeline

Goks uncertainty language

A Trump Insider Embeds Climate Denial in Scientific Research

I should not be surprised, but I am baffled to read about this still going on.

From the NY Times: By Hiroko Tabuchi

  • March 2, 2020Updated 8:15 a.m. ET

An official at the Interior Department embarked on a campaign that has inserted misleading language about climate change — including debunked claims that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is beneficial — into the agency’s scientific reports, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times.

The misleading language appears in at least nine reports, including environmental studies and impact statements on major watersheds in the American West that could be used to justify allocating increasingly scarce water to farmers at the expense of wildlife conservation and fisheries.

The effort was led by Indur M. Goklany, a longtime Interior Department employee who, in 2017 near the start of the Trump administration, was promoted to the office of the deputy secretary with responsibility for reviewing the agency’s climate policies. The Interior Department’s scientific work is the basis for critical decisions about water and mineral rights affecting millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of acres of land.