Tag Archives: Oregon

My German Wife’s First Encounter with ‘Kitchen Kaboodle’ in Portland, Oregon

kitchen-barista-supplies-expensive-nice-extravagant-germany

“That spoon costs $25? BAW HAW HAW HAW HAW! Oh, you’re serious…” — Photo by Thomas (http://www.flickr.com/photos/_-o-_/)

Shortly after we were married, The Wife and I opened our wedding presents and were immediately shocked into generosity-comas. We were very grateful for the gifts we received from our friends and family members, especially because we were about to move to Germany and start a new life there. We needed all the help we could get. But before we left the States, we had to make use of the gifts we would not be able to use in Germany, like the $50 gift certificate we received to Kitchen Kaboodle.

Kitchen Kaboodle is a locally-owned kitchen, furniture and bath store with five locations in Portland, Oregon. It’s actually very well known for its wide selection of quality products, all of which are so far beyond our budget they’re practically in orbit. The word ‘kaboodle’ comes from the expression, “the whole kit and caboodle,” which can be interpreted to mean, “everything and more.” It’s a funny sounding name, so you can imagine my German wife asking me, as we parked our car and crossed NW 23rd…

THE WIFE: “So what do they sell there at Kitchen Kah-Doo-Del?”

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Culture Shock 11: American Man Blindsided by Spring Allergies in Hannover, Germany

bee covered in pollen in a flower

Welcome to Germany, where noses run like rivers and the sneezes are free. — Photo by Lennart Tange (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lennartt/)

I have always suffered from hay fever. Every spring, between May and July, my allergies go nuts. And I’m from Portland, Oregon, mind you, which resides in the valley between the Cascade Mountain Range and the Pacific Coast Mountains like a breakfast bowl full of pollen spores.

Portlanders know all about seasonal allergies. My friend Looney Tunes moved to Portland just a few years ago and said, “I thought I was going to die.” That’s how hard our pollen count schooled him. It took him to school and fed him crackers.

My other friend, who I will call “Midnight in Wyoming,” moved to Portland and said of his resulting allergy attacks, “I wanted to shoot myself in the head.” (I’m not sure we can take this seriously, however, coming from a man who dances the Electric Slide.)

As a native Oregonian, I’m accustomed to allergy attacks. They are an annual norm for me, but I thought things might be different in Germany. Perhaps the trees will be different there, I thought. Maybe the flowers and grasses will make a kinder, gentler brand of pollen. Oh no, they have the same shit over here, and it’s working me over like it hates me. Like I slept with its mother… Ivanna Sneezeonyourwiener.

sneezing picture

“Achoo!” “Oh dear, Gesund–” “ACHOO!!!”– Photo by Inf-Lite Teacher (http://www.flickr.com/photos/87328375@N06/)

Holy mother of Joseph, I wake up feeling like hell every morning; my eyelids fused together with tears and eyeball honey. My throat is so itchy I feel like I swallowed a blond-haired, blue-eyed hairball. I sneeze like 15 times before my Earl Grey is done steeping (and yes, I put milk in it like a total fruitcake. Whatever man. I’m 1/4 English).

What in the hell, Germany. Clearly you do not respect my generic, Costco-purchased Claritin. I brought this shit all the way from the States, where we don’t have to talk to a pharmacist to buy a bottle of NyQuil. Where we enjoy so much freedom we can buy DayQuil and NyQuil and take them both at the same time.

Anybody else gettin’ nailed by allergies right now? What’s a red-blooded American supposed to do against pollen spores the size of soccer balls? Why am I mixing metaphors like an inebriated Irishman? Oh, hello beer stein full of sweet, golden Pilsner — why yes, you are just the medicine I was looking for.

And now, Dear Reader, I would like to invite you to watch this video I made. It’s a rapid-fire compilation of my sneezes over the past week. I only managed to record about half of them, since sneeze attacks come on super fast and my iPhone takes forever to switch into video mode, but here they are, in all their eye-watering, head-pounding, snot-rocketing glory. (Warning: video contains minor swearing.)

Click here to learn more about the term “Culture Shock.”

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Pictures: Instagram, Dead Fish and my German Wife

Small Mouth Bass Trophy Stuffed

"Hey there, you big sexy."

As you know, I recently discovered Instagram; an iPhone app which allows talentless hacks like me to apply trendy filters to any photograph and create superficially engaging imagery. I’ve been using Instagram to take pictures of all sorts of mundane things around our house, including a pair of stuffed bass, depicted horrifically above.

It is with no small amount of pride that I inform you, dear reader, I actually caught these Smallmouth Bass with my own two hands. We were on the Lower Deschutes River on a guided fishing trip, using lures like Rapalas, Assassins, curly tail grubs and these bizarre half-frog things I would rather forget. And though I am not a fisherman, I am positively lethal with a Rapala [pictured].

Rapala fishing lure

My weapon of choice. Don't be fooled by its vacant stare. – Image courtesy of carpcatchers.biz

Anyway, the fishing trip included complimentary taxidermy service, so I had those two handsome devils stuffed and mounted, and then I placed them on a shelf directly above our toilet (or toilette, as my wife calls it). Now, I have no problem pooping beneath a couple of ichthyo nightmares, but my German wife sure as hell does.

“We take this down when we have company,” she said while exiting the bathroom. “Cool picture though.”

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Pictures: Terrorizing my German Wife with Instagram

Instagram Logo Image

HIPSTER 9000: "What makes you so cool, Dave?" – Image courtesy of wayjar.com

I recently discovered an iPhone application called Instagram. It allows me to take pictures as I normally would, but I can feed them through all kinds of nifty filters and photo settings, then share them with the Instagram social network at large.

So of course I’ve been running around our house snapping pictures of just everything: houseplants, books, lamps, ceiling fans… it’s as if I don’t even care what I’m photographing. And my German wife absolutely loves this newfound obsession:

THE WIFE: “Please stop taking pictures of boring things around the house.”

As a graphic designer, I am ashamed of myself for using Instagram. My profession demands a high degree of proficiency with Adobe Photoshop, which means I can do everything Instagram does, or any other Instamatic / Hipstamatic type application for that matter, only better. So what’s the appeal? It’s right in the palm of my hand, baby! I can snap a picture of a dying houseplant, throw an Instamatic filter at it and POW! I’ve created a stylish, hip and nauseatingly trendy work of art without even turning my computer on! Now get on your knees and bow down to my photographic genius, you slobbering philistines.

Just kidding. Here are the silly pictures I’ve been taking. Please tell my wife they’re actually really awesome.

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Germans Like Scratchy Towels

Now, I’m not saying all Germans like scratchy bath towels, but my wife sure as hell does.

I first noticed this scratchy towel phenomenon in the bathroom of a student apartment building in Marburg, Germany. After emerging from a token-operated shower with exactly 10 minutes of hot water, I reached for the towel my wife had given me. It was thin, worn and so extraordinarily coarse it felt like sandpaper upon my American man-teets. I winced as I dried myself, feeling for all the world like Richard Pryor having his third degree burns hilariously scrubbed clean.

All of the towels I encountered in Germany were scratchy. Even my German teacher at Portland Community College warned me to bring my own towels for my trip; a little piece of advice I likely missed because I was picking my nose at the time. My wife claims these towels are good for my skin — all exfoliating and what not — but she also enjoys scouring herself raw with the Marquis de Sade’s shower luffa. I suppose I could claim my skin feels good after using German towels, but this would be like thanking a hot iron because it was all done burning me.

To be fair, however, American towels aren’t perfect; they’re oversized, overly soft and they leave lint in your overly abundant chest hair. Seriously, after using a new towel from Bed, Bath and Beyond, I look like Burt Reynolds lost a tickle fight with the Cookie Monster.

At present, my wife is converting all of my fluffy bachelor towels into face-scouring hurtcloths. She does this by leaving them out to dry for several days after washing; a process which somehow kills them and strips their souls away, leaving nothing but husks of coarse fiber and German cruelty. Even now I can hear their tortured banshee wails.

And this, my friends, is why The Wife and I can rest easy; confident that bump we hear every night isn’t an intruder at all. It’s just our haunted bathroom.

Click here to read about some other things those wacky Germans are into.

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The Camping Chronicles: Timothy Lake, Part III

After falling into Timothy Lake and returning to camp, I flailed about in our tent like a shivering man-child while The Wife forced me into dry clothes.

Dinghy McBrokenboat had set his crawdad trap earlier that day, so by the time we rejoined the group at the campfire he’d caught 4 of the disgusting little freaks.

“Look honey!” I said, holding one up for her to see. It waved its claws around, miming precious little death threats at her.

“Ooo!” she replied. “It’s a Crapdaddy.” Obviously I could not bring myself to correct her. Instead, I laughed and pulled out my iPhone, adding her quote to our ongoing list of Denglish hilarity.

We cooked the crawfish and ate them; each one offering just enough meat to evoke in my mind the shellfish genocide it would require to form a proper meal. It was then I noticed movement on the ground around the campfire. All around, as far as my flashlight could reveal, the forest floor was crawling with spiders. I’d never seen anything like it in my life. It was like something out of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets… or the night terrors I’ve been having ever since.

Because my normal clothes were soaked, I was wearing only socks on my feet, which left me feeling all the more vulnerable to spider attacks. I held my feet up as long as I could, like a pregnant woman in stirrups, before exhausting myself and retiring for the night.

The next morning, we awoke to the dreaded patter of rain hitting our tent. My coat was hanging under a tree somewhere outside, so The Wife found a white plastic bag and cut holes for my head and arms, fashioning a makeshift rain vest comprised of 10% German resourcefulness and 90% American shame. The rest of our group enjoyed the hell out of my predicament, while I choked down a little of the hair of the dog that bit me. I was cold, I was wet, and I was still angry about those other campers molesting our otherwise virginal ambiance…

But by God, we were camping… and we were camping hard.

Click here to read our very first camping adventure — The Camping Chronicles: Burning the German, Part I

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The Camping Chronicles: Timothy Lake, Part II

As you know from the first chapter of this story, we were camping at Timothy Lake, stuck next to another group of campers and their greasy teenagers.

With German efficiency, we tore through a half gallon of Canadian Club, chased it with a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon and set out on the boat. Floating around the lake for a few hours, we laughed and enjoyed the hell out of our pubescentless air. When it was time to go back (and after a dozen false starts), the engine turned over and brought us back to shore. There, my wife and our other friends leapt gracefully from the boat and walked up the bank. I, however, gripped the handrail and attempted to slide off the bow like a manatee. I am still unclear exactly how this happened, but I found myself hanging from the side of the boat; my American butt cheeks dangling mere inches from the surface of the water.

“Help me! Help me! Help me!” I cried, but my pleas were rewarded only with laughter. Raucous laughter, especially from my wife. My arms grew tired and I knew I was going into the drink. “My iPhone! You asses, where’s my iPhone?”

“I have it,” chimed The Wife, just helpful as can be.

*SPLASH* I dropped into the water, feeling it wash into my shoes, under my coat and through my jeans; swirling like an icy maelstrom around my wedding vegetables. I emerged from the water soaked and shivering, and though I was prepared to greet hypothermia with open arms, The Wife marched me directly into our tent and put me into dry clothes as if I were some kind of big, stupid man-baby.

Click here to read The Camping Chronicles: Timothy Lake, Part III

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