Today is All-Saint's Day, so people in this state (in the Catholic south) have the day off. Normally I work holidays because there are fewer distractions at work and I'd rather have a day off when everyone else is working, but my work computer is currently crunching data day and night under someone else's login. So, I figured I may as well take the day off. It's especially nice because I just finished that horrific group homework project that was hanging over my head all summer, so I can use the little bit of extra time to finally get organized with lots of other things I want to do in the coming months!
And now for the tidbits promised in the title:
* The other night I was waiting for a friend outside one of our large department stores, Galeria Kaufhof. She called to let me know she was running late, so since it was cold, I went inside the store to just wander around. I've been to Kaufhof several times for various things, but never really just went in to browse. I was perusing the travel and language books when I came across a four-foot wide floor-to-ceiling section labeled "Briefmarken" (stamps). Things for sale here included stamp-collecting books, packs with paper, envelopes, and a selection of different canceled stamps, and big plastic tubs (maybe 3-pint size) filled with nothing but an international selection of canceled stamps that had been cut from envelopes (only 10 EUR)! I've never seen anything like it. For one thing, stamp collecting must be really popular, because I think that sort of thing is a specialty item in the US and you probably couldn't find it at, say, Younkers. And are you really collecting stamps if you're just getting a tub of them at the department store? Also, where do they get all those cancelled stamps? Are there people who just send them in from all over the country? Does the company have reps all over the world just getting stamps cancelled? Very curious...
* Also noted at the department store - a selection of calendars that crushes all other calendar selections I've ever seen. I thought the US was pretty calendar-obsessed. I've even been to those calendar-only shops that sprout up in US malls around the end of the year, but I don't think I've ever seen the sort of variety they have here. There are art calendars that are only 3 inches by 3 inches, birthday calendars that don't include year/day of week on them so they can be reused every year, calendars made out of bookmarks, and a huge variety of do-it-yourself calendars, where the dates are printed in, but there's room for your own photos or artwork. And, of course, an enormous selection of desktop and school calendars and planners. At work, our secretary even orders desk calendars for the whole department!
* It's the season for roasted chestnuts again!! Yeah!!!!!
* Germans also seem more interested than I remember Americans being in seasonal plants. When chestnuts started falling off the trees, there were chestnuts decorating restaurant tables and windowsills and chestnuts sitting around in people's houses, sometimes along with some fall leaves or some kind of dried-up fall seeds or flowers. In fall you see people carrying handfuls of big fall leaves, and in spring handfuls of blooming twigs (hurry to get the ones that are easy to reach!!). Our seasonal decorations at home were always just silk and plastic.
* The other day Damon and I were browsing the dollar bin outside a used book store when a couple walked by. The girl started to gravitate toward the bookstore, causing the guy to react thusly, in the best ultra-accented American English: "Come on baby! You know we don't read!"