Hey ho, the blog's still here. I took 40 days offline for Lent. -- Well mostly offline. Could still read, of course! Ha ha, imagine trying to live without reading the Internet. No. But I couldn't write anything, from Ash Wednesday to Easter.
Okay, Easter was a while ago. What's new?
Here's the big picture: I'm once again between long-term assignments. That means we are once again back in Fladungen. This by itself is just fine -- we like Fladungen. But it's complicated by the fact that I don't know when (or, really whether) I will have another long-term assignment. Moldova was great for ten months, but it ended, and my employer did not win the follow-on project. I'm likely to be bid on something in the next little while, but nothing that gets bid in May or June will be awarded until September at the earliest. So it's likely that we'll be in Fladungen through at least September.
This is somewhat worrisome because if we're here that long, we should be putting the two older boys into the German school system. Germany doesn't allow home schooling, you see. It looks like the system is willing to not-notice kids at home for a month, two months, maybe three months... but six months or more is probably pushing it. And we're not enthusiastic about putting the boys into school here. (That probably deserves a post of its own. In a bit, perhaps.)
An additional wrinkle is that I'm also not getting a lot of short-term work just now. Not none, but not as much as I'd like. I survived tolerably well for three years as a self-employed consultant doing short-term stuff here, there and everywhere -- that's why all those posts from Congo and Zambia and the West Bank. But (to make a long story short) about half my work was doing CLIR assessments, and for various reasons there aren't likely to be many CLIR assessments for the next year and a bit. So I'm having to scramble a bit.
No, we're not starving -- there's food on the table, we're paying the mortgage, all that. It's just not where we were hoping to be right now.
Anyway. That's the big picture; what's happening right now?
If you've had lice, you know about the whole treatment business -- the funny-smelling chemical wash, the shampoo, the endless combing. You get the treatment, wait seven to nine days, get the treatment again. That's not actually such a big deal. No, the obnoxious bits about getting lice are (1) seven to nine days of carefully inspecting each child's head and then going over it with a louse comb while the child squirms (punctuated by the occasional yelp of pain when you hit a tangle; tonight Jacob had a crusted mass of blue goo in his hair, thanks to "a toothpaste fight" with his little sister), then endlessly tapping the comb on the white paper, looking for nymphs and nits; and (2) the laundry.
Oh, gosh, the laundry. We did twelve (12) loads in a single day. The fastest setting on our German washing machine takes 68 minutes to cycle, so that was about fourteen hours of laundry, nonstop. In theory you just have to do pillows and bedlinen and hats and such, but our kids sprawl around a lot. And, yeah, there's a psychological aspect. Maybe you could get the same effect from putting them in the basement freezer overnight, but after you've seen your first louse you want to wash everything.
SO anyway lice. Been there, done that.
On the plus side, it is spring in northern Bavaria. Fladungen is not spectacularly gorgeous, but springs here are very nice. Everyone has a garden -- daffodils, then tulips, and the town has planted big blasts of crocuses around the war memorial. It taks a while to warm up, so the forsythia stays in bloom for a long time. Lots of modest but pretty little wildflowers. And then the blossoms: cherries just coming in, apples and plums on deck. The weather swings wildly back and forth -- we had ten days of freakish warmth in late March, then a dusting of snow on April 16th -- but that kind of adds to the charm. It's the best time of year for walks, because every day there's something new growing or buzzing or blooming.
And then the larks are back. They've been singing over the fields for the last couple of weeks. I wrote a post for the Fistful a while back about how great larks are and, you know, it's still true. Larks are terrific.
Well. Getting on a plane tomorrow to fly to the US for ten days -- work, mostly, which is good. If you're in the DC area, hey.