Thursday, March 20, 2008

20 November: A Non-Stop Day

Today’s jam-packed agenda called for a long drive to Debbie’s house way out in Donzdorf-Winzingen for an IWC Coffee Chat, followed by a visit to the WMF factory outlet in nearby Geislingen, yet another visit to Dr. Linckh to see how my little zygote is coming along, and, lastly, my final IWC dinner at the Ritterstube in Sindelfingen.

Debbie’s coffee was at 10:00 and I was giving Ulla (the German woman from our book club) a ride, so I wanted to be prompt. Ulla took the U-Bahn to Botnang and met me at my house at 9:15, then we headed out into the countryside to find Debbie’s house. Fortunately her directions and the E-Class’ navi were in agreement and we arrived promptly at 10:00, at the same time as Heather and Brenda. Debbie’s German husband is a schoolteacher and they have lived in their sprawling home in the little hamlet of Donzdorf-Winzingen for nearly thirty years. Debbie had prepared a beautiful brunch spread for us of meats and cheeses, breads and pastries, fresh fruit and, of course, plenty of coffee and tea. We chatted over our meal for an hour or so and then piled into our cars and followed Debbie to Geislingen. WMF (pronounced “Veh-Em-Eff”) is an internationally-renowned manufacturer of cutlery and kitchenware and operates an enormous factory outlet store called the Fischhalle (literally, “Fish Hall”) in Geislingen. The name refers to the seafood outlet that WMF opened for its employees in 1912. During World War I, the Fischhalle helped feed many of the families of Geislingen. The fish sale ended in the 1920s and WMF began selling its products out of the building, preserving the original name for posterity.

The warehouse really is huge, and for anyone who likes to cook, or just enjoys kitchen gadgets, it is a dream come true. I was like a kid in a candy shop and had trouble restraining myself to just looking as I took my first stroll around the store. John and I had been talking about buying a set of WMF silverware to take back to America, and I was pleased to find that they had a huge selection at excellent prices. I probably spent close to an hour browsing the cutlery, trying to choose a pattern and find the best deal. It didn’t help that John was in a meeting and couldn’t answer my phone calls. I finally settled on a set in the simple, elegant “Boston” style that came nicely packaged in its own briefcase – easy to transport! It was on sale for what I thought was a good price, but without John’s express agreement, I was a little nervous because it was still a lot of money. I wandered around the store a little more while the rest of the group made their way over to the bistro for a snack. Finally John was able to call me back and give me the go-ahead on the silverware. I also purchased a child's set of silverware and a very cool glass teapot that sits on top of a metal base, heated from below with a tealight candle. I thought it would be nice to have it in my office in Michigan so I wouldn’t have to go downstairs all the time to heat up my tea.

I joined the rest of the women after making my purchases, but before I could even sit down, I spied a bulging bag of Ritter Sport chocolate bars sitting on the table in front of Heather. Apparently they had a special deal on “imperfect” chocolate from the Ritter Sport factory (which is located in Waldenbuch, not far away), and they were selling enormous bags of chocolate bars for only 10 Euro. I couldn’t resist, even though you can now find Ritter Sport commonly in the States. I still remember when my dad used to make trips to the Black Forest when I was a kid and he would bring back these unique square chocolate bars for me and my brother.

After our snack, we said our goodbyes and I drove Ulla back to Botnang, dropping her off at the U-Bahn station. After stopping at the house to give Cody a quick walk, I had to get back down to the U-Bahn quickly to make it to my afternoon doctor’s appointment. This time I finally had some really good news: Dr. Linckh was able to identify my zygote, which looked like a little dark smudge on the ultrasound screen. I got a printout and everything. She said my hormone levels were looking good and I made an appointment for one more visit in two weeks’ time, when hopefully we will hear the baby’s heartbeat!

From the doctor’s office I took the U-Bahn back to Botnang, picked up my car, and headed straight to the IWC dinner in Sindelfingen. (Originally I was going to give Beth a ride but I couldn’t get a hold of her; it turned out that she was still stuck at the office, working late on a consulting job that she had decided to take on.) Brenda had selected the Ritterstube (literally “rider’s room”) a restaurant located just a few blocks from her house, at the local riding stable, for our monthly dinner. The dining room is uniquely situated between two indoor riding rings; you can look out two long rows of windows on either side of the room and watch the riding students at their lessons. We had a turnout of about twelve people for dinner, including Shannon, Eliza, Heather, Brenda, Thuy, and Judy. I had a wonderful plate of Maultaschen and showed off the ultrasound printout of my zygote. As usual, a grand time was had by all! It was a bittersweet evening for me, since I knew it was the last time I would be attending an IWC dinner, but I still have the annual holiday brunch to look forward to in December.

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