Salzburg and the Couples Conference.

I have been looking forward to the couple’s conference since the last zone conference when we were told we would have another one. It was originally scheduled for the first of May until we discovered that all museums in Germany are closed that day (how do you entertain a bunch of old people without museums?). They changed the date and venue and we ended up in Salzburg on the 29th and 30th of May. Since dad had a high council meeting that Thursday (his last), and we had to be on a train very early we got permission to spend the night in Nürnberg. We drove there and found our hotel, Hotel One, which is very new and just a 5 minute walk from the Bahnhof. Then we picked up another couple who had arrived on the train from Schweinfurt. We drove to the stake center and dad went off to his meeting (without dinner) and then the rest of us went to a German restaurant down the street where I had sauerbraten, yum. We went back to the hotel by subway. Dad left the car at the church and came home after the meeting by subway later on (apparently that is the time that the less desirable types frequent the subway).

We had a fairly good night’s sleep but were up by 5 the next morning (I am an alarm clock). We had prepurchased breakfast at the hotel; it was very good, except no muesli and the eggs were hard-boiled. We were off to the train station where we met up with the other couple and were on our way. We had to take the slow train and had various tickets we had to buy since the cheap tickets, Bayern pass weren’t valid until after 9 am. We got to Munich and met up with other couples and found the train to Salzburg. There were five couples traveling together. The day was a little overcast, but not raining (yet). When we got to Salzburg we were met by the Rebers and Pres. and Sister Condie. After our greeting we organized ourselves into the four vehicles. We had two four passenger cars, a 6 passenger van and the “beast” a larger van that they use to transport suitcases to and from the airport.

We drove to the “Snooze Hotel” where we dropped off the luggage and then went on a wonderful tour of Salzburg led by the Rebers. We learned a lot about the city and only got rained on a little bit. We took lots of neat pictures and it seemed like the Festung (fortress) was in all of them. Sister Reber told us a story that is probably not true, but I like it so here it is. The Festung was never overtaken. Once, when there was a blockade the citizens decided to walk their one cow across the Festung so the enemy could see they still had livestock. During the night they painted the cow and walked it around the next morning, they repeated the painting and walking until their enemies decided that they would stop the blockade because they couldn’t out wait the city if they had that much food.

We had been given an assignment before we came to lead a discussion based in the scriptures regarding the Savior’s injunction to proclaim the gospel to the world. While we were traveling we asked the other couples what their assignments were and found out that we were the only ones to receive an assignment. That made us a little worried. What could that mean?

That evening we had a delicious meal with the best schnitzel I had ever eaten (which I plan on duplicating when I get home). We also drove to the mansion that was used for the movie “The Sound of Music”. I got lots of nice pictures which will make Lacy happy. That evening we entertained each other “Reber fashion” with skits in a bag. The skits had to be centered in our work. The ending activity was recounting miracles that had happened to us on our missions, and there were plenty of those. We went back to our hotel and gratefully fell into a deep and restful slumber.

A view of the fortress from the city

A view of the fortress from the city

 

A cemetary with catacombs above
A cemetary with catacombs above

 

The Sound of Music Fountain.  It had been under wraps until this week.
The Sound of Music Fountain. It had been under wraps until this week.

 

Two of the old people at the conference
Two of the old people at the conference

 

Sound of Music House.
Sound of Music House.

 

Our Dinner.  The Restaurant/hotel owner is a church member.  It is in Bad Reichenhall - near the salt mines.
Our Dinner. The Restaurant/hotel owner is a church member. It is in Bad Reichenhall – near the salt mines.

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Several months ago, I decided to drastically reduce the amount of high fructose corn syrup in my diet.  This has gone well so far, and while I was already in pretty good shape at the time, I think taking initiative now will help me stay in shape well into the future.

I’ve had several people ask me what makes HFCS worse than foods with regular sugar in them.  That’s a good question.  I’ll be honest, if you replaced the amount of HFCS you eat with equal amounts of sugar, it would still be just as unhealthy.  True, there are studies that suggest that HFCS is more easily converted into fat than cane sugar, but there hasn’t yet been enough conclusive evidence to convince me that the difference is more than negligible.

The real problem with HFCS is that it’s everywhere.  Sugar cane is mainly produced outside the USA, while corn is grown right here.  Thanks to farmer subsidies, it is cheaper to sweeten foods with HFCS than it is with sugar.  This had the effect of making junk food cheaper to produce, and thereby cheaper to purchase.

If you eliminiate HFCS from your diet, you cannot consume many (perhaps most) junk foods available at grocery and convenience stores.  So in essence, you’re not watching out for your health by replacing one sweetener with another, you’re doing it by eliminating the sweetener from your diet entirely.

I wasn’t sure how easy it would be for me to do this at first.  Prior to starting, I had a tendency to drink one or two 12 ounce cans of soda per day.  Since I work at Microsoft, a refrigerator full of free soda is a short walk away from my desk.  But since starting I almost never go to the fridge anymore – I’ve replaced soda with just plain water.  I still drink soda, of course, but now when I drink it, it’s much less frequent.  And since I only drink soda that’s made with cane sugar now, I drink the good stuff (Thomas Kemper, Jones, Hansen’s, and so forth).

So I’m convinced the real value of not eating or drinking anything with HFCS in it isn’t that replacing it with sugar will be better for you, but that you can replace it with either nothing, or healthier foods.  It’s pretty hard to eliminate HFCS completely from my diet (because, like I said, it’s EVERYWHERE), but I’m making good progress toward my goal.

Fun In The Sun

We don’t have that many preparation days where we can do what we want around here. We want to be sure to see it all. Today we had an invitation to go to a kloster brewery close to Kelheim with the Bradleys, a wonderful couple in our ward. They had also invited a single older woman in the ward and a single soldier, Tammy. We got lost on our way to the dock, but we finally got there and boarded our boat to get out to the brewery.

Out boat to the Monastery
Out boat to the Monastery

You can get there by car, but the boat trip takes you down a spectacular bit of the Danube. We actually went against the current so the trip there took 40 minutes. The day was sunny and hot, I brought the sun screen and used plenty of it while we were on our way. We went past some pretty impressive cliffs as we made our way up the river..”]This is the Liberation Hall of King Ludwig or the befreihungshalle.  The picture is off center because it was so bright I couldn't see where my camera was aimed.

Above is the Liberations Hall by King Ludwig.  It is called the Freihungshalle.  We didn’t walk up there but it would have been nice.

 

 When we got there we walked up the path that led to the brewery. In the courtyard there is a beautiful church, but first since we were all hungry we ordered lunch. They assumed we wanted some of the local product, Weltenburg Dunkle, and were a little surprised that we order water, apple juice, and spaetze. They had spargel on the menu so I had that and dad had a schwinehaxe, which was very good. My spargel hit the spot for me. We went into the chapel where it was nice and cool and looked around.

This is the Monastery of Weltenburg.
This is the Monastery of Weltenburg.

Just like about every other Catholic church in German, full of idols, but it was good to get out of the sun and away from the smell of brewing beer, ugh, really bad, just about made me sick. We walked up behind the brewery to a little chapel on the hill which had a beautiful view of the river and then walked back down and met up with those who didn’t want to climb with us. We sat down to eat (again), but just for dessert. Dad and I shared Dampfknodel, yum, it was the best yet, the plum sauce was outside the knodel.

We took the boat back down the river to our car. It was so hot, we stayed in the boat to be out of the sun. On the way home brother Bradley wanted to show us a monument by Regenburg, called Walhalle. It was a grand place with many columns and a great view of the river below.

After we got lost going out of the town, we stopped by Naaburg briefly as the Bradleys have never been there. We got home after 7 p.m. so it was an 11+ hour outing. We are tired.

Below is actually the Walhalle.  Don’t know what I did with the photo titles, but I’m too tired to mess with them now.

This is the frontal view of the Walhalle
This is the Liberation Hall of King Ludwig or the befreihungshalle. The picture is off center because it was so bright I couldn’t see where my camera was aimed[caption id=

Of bike rides and LARPing

I went for a 50 mile bike ride yesterday along the Green River, and on the return ride, I saw a curious thing.

There is a park next to the area where the Green River trail meets the Interurban Trail, called Foster Park.  When my team and I arrived there, we saw about a hundred young men gathered there, ready for battle.

Yes, I said battle.  They were armed with shields and various kinds of weaponry – swords, halberds, clubs, whatever.  All appeared to be nonlethal, of course.  When we arrived they were simply milling about, but after waiting a few minutes, they began to charge each other and attack.

At first I thought it was a very large group of LARPers (for those unfamiliar with the term:  LARPing is Live Actin Role-Playing.  It’s like Dungeons and Dragons taken to a whole new dimension of nerdiness).  However, I didn’t see any actual role-playing taking place, so I figured it was more like a competition of some sort.

We watched them for a few minutes, and moved on.  I considered having us ride in and wreaking havoc like unto the Mongol hordes, but we wisely decided against it.

My Companion’s Birthday

We have had a couple of action packed days. Yesterday we had been asked to help the Pomares family in the shipment of their Unaccompanied Baggage. They came by on Thursday night to visit us so we had them come to our appartment. Actually, we also had six other missionaries in our appartment that morning for a district meeting. We love the Pomares family and are sure glad they are going to move to Washington.

We woke up at 5:30 on Friday morning and after a quick shower we were off to Vilseck. We took our breakfast with us and ate it there, after the family left. They were going to Ramstein to a baseball tournament where their son William is playing for his High School team. They left around 8 a.m. and we had the house. We ate breakfast and did our study. I also did my journal. It was a little after 11 and I was thinking about going to Burger King, but the doorbell rang and it was Justinia’s friend with some Popeye’s chicken for us. We got several phone calls from them, worrying about us spending the whole day there. Finally, after i took the dog for a walk, the truck came. They packed the whole thing in about 30 minutes and were out of there. We visited some member neighbors and asked them to walk the dog. We also had a few other appointments that evening.

Today we got up early again and prepared for the baptism for Amber and Scott. We decided to have some sandwiches and other food, and the Briskins invited us to ride along. We went to Nurnberg for the service. It was really special. I was honored to baptize Amber and Elder Jorgensen baptized Scott. After the service and some goodies, many of the families went to the zoo with the Zavals. We went downtown Nurnberg and had some ice cream.

This evening I took mom to a restaurant. The one we visit occasionally was closed for a party tomorrow. It was a beautiful, sunny day and a birthday Janet will never forget.

This is a Kloster near here, with
This is a Kloster near here, with the Rapseeds in full bloom

The Pomares family at our appartment
The Pomares family at our appartment
The Zaval's right before the baptism.  Christian, age 4, didn't want anything to do with the photo.
The Zaval's right before the baptism. Christian, age 4, didn't want anything to do with the photo.
Ready for the baptism.  Elder Jorgenson and Scott, Amber and Me, and Elder Pettigrew
Ready for the baptism. Elder Jorgenson and Scott, Amber and Me, and Elder Pettigrew

Happy 41st Anniversary!

We celebrated our 41 years of marriage today by going to Naaburg with a family from the ward. Sister Muir has 4 very cute children between the ages of 8 and 0. Her husband is deployed and her brother is here visiting her, he just got back from a mission in Brazil. We left about noon and drove to Naaburg which is south of Weiden right on the autobahn. It is a beautiful little medeival city perched on a hill top. It is very small so we just wandered the streets, looked inside the church (I am always amazed that these little villages always have a big church), and then walked the walls. We found an ice cream kiosk and I had one scoop of mango that was very good. The two girls, 8 and 6 both ordered their own cones in German, they did a great job.
We got back in the cars and headed down the road to the town of Neusath where there is an open air museum. I have really been looking forward to this. They have collected a lot of buildings from farms in Bavaria. This is a great opportunity to see how people lived in Germany hundreds of years ago. I am grateful for indoor plumbing. Part of the display included outhouses. We noticed that they put outhouses over running water, and next to the dirty hay that comes out of the barns. Several of the homes had the same entrance for the humans and for the animals. Most of the homes had separate entrances but the home and the barn were connected. The homes always had a big stove for heat, but only in one room and not the bedrooms, hence the thick feather comfortors on the bed.
We did a lot of walking, thank goodness it was good weather, not raining, but not so sunny and hot that we were uncomfortable. The children really enjoyed themselves running to each of the exhibits. We didn’t leave until 5:30 and the museum closes at 6. We drove from there to a restaurant in Weiden that we wanted to try. It was very good, and not too expensive. This evening the sun is setting in a clear sky, which we haven’t seen for a few days.

 

It has been a wonderful day.

Does anyone know how to adjust photo size?

I need to get further down on the page so the photo isn’t being eaten by the option page

Hope that is enough!

 

 

City Gate in Naaburg.
City Gate in Naaburg.

A building in Naaburg
A building in Naaburg

John the Baptist Church built in the 14th century
John the Baptist Church built in the 14th century

A look thru the city wall of Naaburg
A look thru the city wall of Naaburg

The Muirs
The Muirs

Open Air Museum
Open Air Museum

Open Air Museum
Open Air Museum

Birthday Thoughts

Today I turned 29 years old.  I admit I was dreading this birthday a bit because it is my final birthday before turning 30, but I suppose I shouldn’t worry about something that is inevitable.

It was a pretty good birthday:  my program manager at work (who is a bike racer) gave me a bike jersey that she received once, but doesn’t fit her.  It fits me perfectly, so now I have a great jersey to wear for my bike rides.

Then, I got an email from Dale indicating that he had won free tickets to the symphony that he can’t use, offering them to me.  Thanks, Dale!

And finally, when I got home, I found that mom and dad’s birthday card had arrived in the mail.  Perfect timing.  I made some almond butter cookies and departed for FHE, where everybody sang me happy birthday.

All in all, it was a good day.

A Not so Pleasant Bike Ride

Today was the scheduled maintenance for our Opel. The cars are amazing since they only need to have maintenance once a year or 30,000 km (18,750 miles). Well, our car is one year old, so I scheduled it to be done today. The weather forecast was for 70% rain. I was looking for the 30% non-rain. I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and heard the rain. I heard it at 4 and 5 too. I had to load my bike in the back of the car and leave at 7:30. It was raining pretty hard on my drive to Eschenbach. When you drive the 10 km, it doesn’t seem hilly.

I dropped the car off and got on my bike. This bike cost me $40 new, so you know it is a winner. Fortunately, it stopped raining just before I started the ride home. Seems as if my companion asked the Lord to let the rain stop. It did. But, I was over dressed and had no place to put my coat. The bike path is not just right along the side of the road, but it goes up and down and around little villages. I had to put it in the lowest gear to make it up one hill. It was beautiful to see the crops growing, but with steam coming from my coat, I couldn’t see much. The 10 km on the road probably equated to 12 km on the path, not counting the ups and downs, which added another 40 km – or it felt like it did. It took me about 40 minutes to make the ride and I was dripping wet. My coat and pants were covered with mud from the tire splashes.

I had to have the dealer fax the cost estimate to the mission office. I sent an email there to alert them that it was coming and to have them respond right away. I hadn’t heard anything so I called the office at 2:00 p.m. and the senior office missionary went to the fax and said, “Yes it is here. The young elders didn’t know what to do with it so it sat there.” Elder Winters said he would respond within the hour. I said, No, make it now. In Graf, we are homebound without wheels.

The dealer was supposed to call me when it was finished, but that didn’t happen either. I called them at 4:30 and was told the car was finished. The sky was dark, but not raining when I left home. Again, I was lucky because it didn’t start raining until I was almost there. At least on the afternoon trip I was not over dressed. I’ll be glad to be back in the Pacific Northwest where it never rains.

Saturday ride

I woke up around 6:00 and lazed around for awhile, then got dressed and was out the door and on my bike at 7:00 a.m.

It was quite cold, so I was glad to have my jacket and gloves on.  A few cars on the road but I didn’t see any other bicycles.

I went along the Lacey and Olympia Woodland trails, then through downtown Olympia, and up the rather steep hill that is Harrison Ave.  Then, to Black Lake Boulevard.  I made it over to the Nadeau’s house a little after 8:00.  I knocked on the door and waited.  Then I saw Rose and Lacy’s heads pop up and look through the window and squeal with excitement.  My visit was indeed a complete surprise.

Carolyn and Dave showed me the various changes they had made since the last time I was there.  The new fence is really looking good, and I’m intrigued by the upside-down tomatoes.

After my visit there, I rode back to Olympia and the Farmer’s Market, where I talked with Jackie for awhile.  I ended up buying a summer sausage, tayberry jam, and hot tomatillo jam.  Being a little hungry, I had a Belgium waffle with brown sugar and pecans.  Then I saw that one of the annual boat festivals was going on, so I wandered through there, and found another preserves vendor: I bought garlic apple pepper jelly, chocolate apple butter, and raspberry mustard.

I rode home–it wasn’t compeletely warm, but the sun was shining.  A fun outing, and about thirty miles worth of riding.  Now what shall I do this afternoon?

Springtime in Germany.

We are lucky that we have been able to enjoy two springs here. Spring is, after all, the best season of the year. I am sure Mark and Rose would agree. Last year we admired how beautiful the area was as flowers started blooming and trees got their leaves. We noticed fields everywhere with beautiful yellow-flowered plants and found out that the plants are “raps”, they are grown for the oil that is in the seeds. We also noticed that many of the fields that are growing grass are full of dandelions, as if they were a crop. I am sure this will be cut down and used as grass to feed the animals. Dandelions are edible for us as well, as long as they are young and not where animals can get into them. It won’t be long until the fields are full of wild poppies and bachelor-buttons, they were so beautiful last year. We plan on taking pictures this time so you can see how lovely they are growing in fields together. For now here are some pictures of the fields of yellow and of the dandelions.

Dandelion Field
Dandelion Field
Rap Seed plants, for making cooking oil
Rap Seed plants, for making cooking oil
Rap Seeds from the Cella's back yard
Rap Seeds from the Cella's back yard