Monday, November 24, 2008

Well, which would you like first - the weather report or the Ag report? We better go with the weather report because the Ag report doesn't have much to talk about these days. The weather report can be summed up in one word - "Scarves". Scarves are big over here and for a reason - they help keep the cold out and the warmth in better than about anything else. Many folks back home don't use scarves too much any more but let me assure you they make a huge difference. It seems like a good scarf that is worn properly doubles the warmth of a coat. The only science I ever heard about scarves was that the Army folks used to say that in cold weather up 70% of heat loss was around the neck and head. The head and neck are like a chimney. Close the chimney and you'll keep the heat in! Trust me - if you come to Germany and the damp cold, a scarf is a must. (I have three - one for each coat. Three pairs of gloves - one for each coat. Three hats, three ear muffs - yep - one for each coat. 'Don't leave home without 'em!) We have also been told that there are some variations on how scarves are worn in some of the countries over here and if you know the different methods you can tell where a person is from. I haven't gotten that far into the science of it yet. I'm just into staying warm.

The heaters in our apartment are like coal stoves. When I grew up we had coal stoves and then a coal furnace and these heaters remind me of those times because there was always a big delay in getting the heat level you wanted. A coal fire takes time to build up to get more heat out of it and is also very slow to cool down when less heat is needed. Every room here has a heater and each has to be adjusted to get the temperature wanted. But when you get it adjusted the temperature outside will change and because the heaters, or really radiators, are not controlled by a thermostat, they need adjusting every time the outside temperature changes and there is quite a delay in achieving the desired temperature. It seems that learning to run those things is more "art" than "science".

One of the other challenges is that we have a large hall that has no radiator in it and that saps some of the heat from the rooms. The outside door comes into that hall and there is quite a draft under the door. The couple that was here last winter told us that they had to keep the room doors closed to the hall in order to keep the rooms warm. So every time you go from one room to another you have to go through the cold hall - an idea not popular with some residents! So we are still trying to slow the draft under the door and learn how to keep the place comfortable.

Speaking about weather - yesterday one weather forecast called for 4-8 inches of snow. It didn't happen! We got a trace but that was all. Yesterday we needed to go to Heidelberg (about 65 miles away)for meetings so we were concerned about the weather but it all turned out fine except for the 0600 departure time - a 0500 rocket out of bed time! Traffic was very light on Sunday morning at that time of day.

Speaking about Sunday - retail stores are closed here on Sunday. Stores close here fairly early on Saturday and are not open Sunday. Small local stores typically close on Saturdays anywhere from noon to two. Most grocery stores close at 6PM on Saturdays and 8PM most days. Virtually all stores except gas stations are closed on Sundays. Even the IKEA and other huge retail stores are closed here on Sundays. The Germans consider Sunday a family day. Good idea!

Friday we had a nice surprise. Last Friday the folks at the Wounded Warrior Ministry Center where we volunteer told us that they we going to take us to lunch the next time we were there. We didn't think much of it but who is going to turn down a free lunch? So when we finished our volunteer work on Friday the staff gathered and told us to meet them at the Schloss Hotel for lunch. The Schloss (called that because it is near the schloss, or castle) is a very nice place and has great food. So we met them there and it turned out that they gave us a certificate of appreciation and unit coins for our volunteer work. Also, they gave Pam a large bouquet of fresh flowers. They said they have a large number of volunteers but only a few are reliable and work hard. Had they given us these things when we were leaving it would have seemed normal but to present them to us midstream is quite something. They kept saying that we make a huge difference. (We are often the ones who work out in the cold area sorting and preparing things while the others stay warm inside where they are seen by the VIPs that pass through.) Sweet Pam had a salad but I had the Jager Schnitzel! Oh yeah!! Jager is "hunter" and supposedly jager schnitzel comes from hunters who were out hunting and made sauce for the schnitzel from things available in the woods. So jager schnitzel has mushrooms and a great sauce - I love it! So Friday was great free food and a pat on the back - cool!

Returning to the topic of weather - except for the folks that have medical conditions that make them cold I don't understand why anyone chooses to be cold. I say "chooses" because there are clothes that can keep just about any body warm. The problem is for most is that choose to make a fashion statement over being comfortable. Did we tell you about the fellow here (a member of the church) that goes to Hungary and takes clothes to the folks there that don't have much. He was telling us that there are folks there that make about 400 Euro (approx $500) a month and their rent is almost that much. So he gathers clothes and small items to take to them to help them out. So we went through our closets and took the items we don't wear and yet are good and sent them to him to give to them. Besides, at the thrift stores (on base used items stores) we find some unbelievable deals. Pam sometimes finds brand new (with price tag attached)Liz Claiborne items for two or three dollars. So we can afford to share some that don't fit perfectly or don't turn out to be needed. It felt really good to help some folks that need our excess stuff! Hopefully they will have enough to stay warm!

Well, that's the news from "Karn woe be gone", where the Pam is always pretty and we are always on the move!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Elder & Sister Karn

Here are the two coins they gave us (made in Ogden,Utah, would you believe?). This way you can see both sides of the coin and the size compared to a ballpoint pen. They are heavy and very nice. Also below is the certificate with a bird's eye view of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on the left. The flowers are behind the certificate. We are still surprised!