Sunday, June 29, 2008

Corky's Toad Adventure

Today, a new ISE (international service experience) family arrived here in Cologne. As the self-nominated welcoming committee, I invited this family over for dinner. I also felt it was in my best interest to make them feel happy here as he was brought over here to help me with my work load. A happy co-worker is a productive co-worker!!

Ben and I spent the day tidying up the house and cooking. We were expecting the family to arrive around 4:30. This would allow the children to have time to play in the yard prior to an early dinner. At 4:35, I looked up from my reading and see a toad in the house!! What the did this happen? Sure there are no screens on windows and doors here in Germany but never have we had anything just wander into the house. Aha...there's the culprit. It's Corky. He's a few feet behind the toad frothinig at the mouth and trying to spit. Apparently the toad has some sort of foul tasting secretion that is making Corky's mouth foam up. Now the toad is hopping across our floor, leaving a nice trail of slime and Corky is spitting everyway.

Oh God, please don't let the new family show up now. Please be late, please be late, please be late! New family may not like cats. May be totally repulsed by toad and slime. They may not find this funny.

Ben and I sprang into action. I threw the Corky outside. Ben caught the toad in some tupperware and tossed him over the fence into the neighbor's yard (wow, Corky was SOOOO mad!). And I managed to swiffer up the floor before the new family arrived. Phew!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Petting Zoo

We took Carter to the Petting Zoo today and it was a big hit. For 50 cents you can buy a box of animal food and feed the deer, sheep, and goats. Carter was a little intimidated by the size of the deer (and the fact that they were free roaming) so he let Daddy do all the feeding. It appeared that all of the deer but one were female. The one young male was very pushy. His rack was still covered with fuzz and really soft.

The goats were in a pen and you could feed them though the chain link. They were exceptionally pushy and would ram each other out of the way to get to the food. Carter would squeal with delight every time one licked the food from his hand. This may be a new Sunday tradition.

In other news, we are now foster parents to about 10 guppies. Friends of ours are going on vacation and we agreed to look after their fish. Hopefully we can keep Corky away from them so that we can return all 10 of them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Out on the street!?!?

It all started with a new German word - Makler. It means agent, as in real estate agent. Two weeks ago, our landlord announced that he is selling the property we live in because taxes were too high and that the makler was coming to look at our place. We hoped that somebody would buy the place as an investment and we could stay.

Then Monday night, the hope bubble burst. A prospective buyer, his family, their architect, and a representative from the bank came to view the (our) place. We had planned to be out to dinner during the inspection but due to a mix up in scheduling we arrived right as everybody was showing up. It's a terrible feeling seeing a group of people walking through our home knowing they are looking to buy it and kick us out. The buyer was a nice man moving here from France and said he wanted to move in as soon as he could. I told him we would talk about it after the purchase is complete.

Our arrangement is unique here. Ford leases the apartment from the landlord and we sublet from Ford. This arrangement is meant to shelter us from being stuck in a lease when we move home. Our lease with Ford is for 2 years. Ford leases the apt monthly from the landlord. So once the property changes ownership, we will get a letter saying that we have to leave. We then have three months from the end of the current month to find a new place and move.

Needless to say we are unhappy about this. I understand the landlord's problem with taxes (50% income tax anybody??). Of course Ford will take care of the moving costs and provide help finding a new place. A quick web search netted a number of nice places within our price range. Still, moving is such a big deal and we are quite happy where we are.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Our New Car, er, I Mean Ka

We picked up our new lease car today. It's a little green jelly bean. Because we use our second car so infrequently, we chose the least expensive option available to us -- a Ford Ka. Our particular model has tiny 13 inch wheels, no AC, and a 1.3L I4 engine that puts out a whopping 59 hp; however, it still costs 9750 Euros (which is $15,000 USD at today's exchange rates).

Carter calls the Ford Ka the "Fun Car" because it's so little it looks like a toy. I personally believe it was named the Ka because it's too small to be a Car.