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Tonight my teammate Julie and I checked out Dietfurt, another Bavarian village about 28km away from work.  (I’m starting to think in kilometers and Celsius – totally rad!)  I’d been told that it was charming, and at first I have to admit we were a bit…underwhelmed.  The town seemed trafficky and not very lively, although we started to notice little streams running under and alongside many of the buildings.  Then I started noticing signs for a Meditationshaus, which intrigued us both so we followed them to what was, for me, the main treasure of Dietfurt: the Franziskanerklöster or in American terms, Franciscan monastery.  Right there.  In the middle of town.  A sweet courtyard garden sheltered a stone sculpture of Mother & Child, and St. Francis presided over the fountain while wild apples presided over him.  Inside was a simple chapel with some beautiful religious artifacts.  One that caught me totally by surprise was a shrouded skeleton, encased in a glass coffin, on display.  The sign said something about a saint and 1781, I believe.  Whoa!  I’d never seen anything like that.  The skeleton couldn’t have been more than four feet long.  Was it a child?  Or just a pygmy saint?  I felt a little weird taking a picture of it, and if anyone here knows for sure that it’s a bad thing to have taken it, let me know and I’ll take it off the post.  I do not wish to offend.

The chapel did get a little stuffy for me, what with all the confessionals and…you know…shrouded pygmy skeletons.  But the courtyard really was lovely, and as I followed the streams I became all the more enchanted by the sleepy town.  On the far bank of one of the streams stood two boards with words written on them – I haven’t translated them yet.  Is it graffiti or a prayer?  Hm.  And the plump Mexican…a quirky fountain in the town square.  Love his face.  And then I found a beautiful little garden – someone’s front yard, and behind it a funny, tall building with only one small window at the top.  What could it be?

I can’t say enough about the aesthetic beauty everywhere I go.  It makes me wonder why in America we give so little thought to cultivating beauty in our public surroundings.  Of course we have beautiful places, but Sacramentans: has anyone seen the majority of Folsom Boulevard lately?  I rest my case.

Dinner was touch-and-go; for the first time, our server did not speak any English at all.  My German is improving, I think!  I translated about 30% of the menu, which was enough to let Julie figure out what she wanted.  I even communicated with the server about my gluten intolerance and lo and behold, the menu had indications of different allergenic ingredients!  Hot diggity.  Julie had knoblauch (garlic) steak and potatoes, and I had a champignonomelette – mushroom omelet.  Not the best food I’ve had here, but pretty yummy.  After dinner we headed back home, with a quick stop to snap a pic of the wall of posters, and the absolutely spectacular sunset (which got more and more spectacular, but I couldn’t pull over every five minutes to capture its fiery beauty).

Today my friend Amy posted an article about living with less, and it got me seriously inspired.  I have been a student of the Voluntary Simplicity movement for many many years, although in my own life I vary between simplicity and astounding complexity.  🙂

Earlier this year someone broke into my dear old Saturn, in a rather violent and thoughtless way.  Some very valuable valuables were lost, and the car was basically totaled on the inside.  Knowing I had a good 7 months of work travel ahead of me, I donated the car to the local PBS and decided to stay car-less until October, when I come home from this assignment.  Now an idea is hatching, of maybe staying car-less and seeing how it goes.  After all, I live in a city that is compact and well-designed for walking or bicycling.  Most of my needs can be met within a few miles.  Over the summer my sister and I got good at me taking the light rail and her picking me up, for family outings in the north.  And I just discovered that if I need a car, Zipcar is now in Davis which is only a 20-minute train ride from the downtown Amtrak station.  It will cost much less than buying, insuring, and gassing up a new car.  Hm.  I’m not making any commitments, just thinking for now.  Thinking of the money I’d save.  Thinking of the great exercise I’d get.  Thinking of the thought I’d have to put into my day, and the possible chance to become more present to my moments.  I’m also thinking about the rainy season and how thin my sister’s patience might wear.

So the article features a woman, Tammy Strobel, who has committed to a simpler life, and one way that manifests is that she lives by the 100 Things Challenge.  Hm.  So I looked it up.  HM.  I’m intrigued.  What would I keep, if I could only keep 100 Things?  Living out of suitcases for most of the last year has definitely distilled it already, to some degree.  But what a concept.  Some of you may know that I am not one to hang onto things; I ruthlessly purge my belongings regularly, and love to lighten my load.  Probably the “wander” part of me.  But this 100 Things Challenge got me thinking about which possessions are really meaningful in my life, which have energy on them that make them worth space in my backpack, so to speak.  This, I think, is the “nest” part.  Wanting to keep my backpack light, but filled with people and memories and relationships and significances.  I don’t know…there’s something brewing here.  I’ll probably post more as time goes on.

Tomorrow right after work, I head to the train station for a weekend with my dear old friend, Sonja.  I won’t be able to blog again until Sunday night, so bear with me.  I’ll be back then with a 3-day series on beautiful Munich!

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