02.06.10 - 9:12am - Better start the day out with exercise. It's cold outside. After a few weeks of near springlike weather the lion of winter came back in and reaffirmed his dominance. "You're not getting off this easy", he said to the displaced American via Vietnam who had almost made it through his first Bavarian Winter. [Photo: The photo is from Paul Himmel, 1955, at Gallery h5,6, in Munich. If you click and enlarge it, you can see my reflection in the glass taking the photo. My head begins directly below his, uhh...] - 10am - 80 push-ups and 360 sit-ups. That's the general routine for an hour. And I've been doing this for as long as I can remember (with a few months off for lazy spells now and again), three times a week. But will it prepare me for my day? I've got big plans. I plant to eat well, do a little blog work, eat some more, do a little shopping, and then probably, eat. Hmm? More about the food later. - 11:05am - This week I received a piece of mail from the Catholic church, asking for a donation of course, but what I wondered more, was how the church got my name. It was addressed to me at my current address and I don't recall giving my name to any singing nuns this winter. I guess God can see all. And so it's my first trip today to see if I can locate this church, which, according to Google maps, is just a few blocks away. A little lunch and we'll be off. - 12:17pm - The snow flurries are whirling up a storm outside and I take a second to go out on the patio and enjoy. Marvelous. But what's not so marvelous is the little plowing machine that comes down my walk inside of the hour to plow away what has fallen. Sometimes German efficiency can be a little much and for me, this is one of those cases. I won't even get to have the fun of trudging through even a few inches because by the time I get downstairs it will all have been swept away. Pity. - 1:05pm - A letter from someone the night before makes me smile and I spent a few minutes to craft a response. I was recently told that the term soulmate was another word for taskmaster and I'm beginning to see some logic in that. My response to the letter could wait. But it doesn't. - 2:07pm - Snowtime! I don my trusty Timberland hoodie, a good coat, a Bayern FC scarf, gloves and my ever present Crocs. What's that you say? Frigging Crocs? Yes. Crocs. The Bavarians have come up with an ingenious fleese-lined version that believe it or not, got me to Amsterdam last month. They're also accepted at art galleries, which is where this photo was taken. Since I injured my ankle in Paris last September, Crocs have been a godsend. My good friend RC will certainly have a field day with my perpetual flaunting of this fashion faux paux and all I can say to a guy who insists on using only two initials to address himself is, FU. - 2:23pm - Hitting the streets in search of St. Somebody's I head down to where I thought I saw it on Google maps. I don't know the name of the actual church, because all the letter said was 'Katholische Pfarrgemeinde', which means Catholic Parish, so I'm off with my own instincts in tow and an ear for bells. One of the hallmarks of Munich is the constant chiming of church bells and with the population being almost totally Catholic that can be both beautiful and baffling at the same time, especially if you want to try following the bells to a church. They're all over the place. - 3:02pm - The good thing about this walk is that it takes me into a quarter I've yet to explore. Oh, it's still blocks and blocks of not really quaint apartment buildings but at least they're ones I haven't seen before. And then I see it - a tall modern bell tower of certified 1960s construction. There are really two kinds of churches in Munich, pre-war and post-war and you don't have to be an art historian to understand that the pre are much more charming than the post. This one is certifiably post. - 3:43pm - Welcome to St. Bernhard's. It's not the address I was looking for, but it's good enough. It's a Catholic church (as if I could have stumbled into a mosque in Munich?) As you can see from the attractive sign out front, they don't seem to discriminate over dog varieties as the one on the sign is almost certainly too slim to be a St. Bernhard, but under no circumstances should whatever your breed of dog, poop on their lawn - snow covered or not. - 4pm - Inside is nice. I had not been in a church since last fall and I took a second to just sit and contemplate. Churches all around me and I never go in. Must be something far back in my Catholic upbringing about that. The sun streams through the window blocks that must certainly have been inspired by le Corbusier's Notre Dame du Haut in France. [Photos: On the right, le Corbusier. On the left, the much more rational, German interpretation.] I make a few photos and it feels nice to be inside with no one else. A good place for prayer. I light two votive candles, for two people who can certainly use a prayer or two and it's back out to the place where any dog can't poop. St Bernhard's. I had to laugh. - 4:32pm - Walking back I made a point to find the Lidl store I had seen on the way here. Lidl and Aldi are the two big discount groceries here and when you're on a budget such as I have been on these past few months, the word discount takes on a necessary meaning. - 5pm - Friday had been a payday and I had not seen a payday in quite some time (the holidays were just cold) so that meant it was time to get back on my meds - back to my addiction. And what might that be? For some people it might be drink, or drugs, or even something more sinister, but for me it's simple. My addiction this year has become food, and that means good food. Friday's trip home had covered the basics, plus a stop at le fromagerie (or the Kase shoppe in German) for a stock up on cheeses but today would pick up on some things I had missed. Important things. Like plastic wrap. Baked beans. Tortilla chips. Salsa. And backup coffee. - 5:27pm - But wait a minute! Chips and salsa ain't gourmet! What's up with that? Friday's meal saw me enjoying two wonderful huge scallops, each stuffed with a prawn and wrapped in bacon and then drizzled with a balsamic and wine reduction, finally topped with a roasted almond, shallot and basilico relish. Mmmm. So now I want the chips. For anyone who has ever lived outside their culture for a time you will understand that sometimes, the simple becomes exotic, especially when you can't get it. And for those of you who can gorge on American junk food all you like, you'll think I'm just an idiot. Fine. I can live with both. My wife used to say that it was amazing that I could enjoy a meal at Charlie Trotter's and a frozen pizza just the same - with the same level of happiness. And so that's how I felt this weekend. Like I could enjoy any food I wanted, but at the same level. The level that celebrates being able to have it as opposed to being able to have what you can when you're on a poor budget. - 6pm - Leaving Lidl with a cheap brand of salsa and nothing in the yellow cheese section, I decide to hit Tengleman on the way home to see if I can find any yellow cheese from which to make a queso for my chips. Plenty of Germans in Wisconsin, but apparently no Wisconsonites reciprocated back to Germany - good luck finding a slab of cheddar, or god-forbid, Velveeta to make your savory queso. - 6:22pm - Tengleman's is a midline grocery that has a real meat counter, decent cheese selection and a bakery on premise. And so the search for yellow cheese commences. And jalapenos. Ha! I'm looking for a jalapeno in Germany, like trying to find lieberkase in Mexico. Idiot. - 6:46pm - The search resolves itself somewhat in that I find a 'cheese-dip' sort of thing at the deli, and I laugh but take a little can of olives that claim to be held in jalepeno creme - maybe I'll just throw the olives out and use the creme mixed in with the cheese dip? - 7:15pm - Home again with a ton of provisions, I turn on CNBC which happens to be running Jay Leno's shows from this week so I got my Merican thing going. Yeah. I put away all the food and make a rush for the chips. But how to make the queso? Pour a 1/2 a cup of the salsa into a small sauce pan. Add two slices, yellow 'burger' cheese they call it. Turn off halogen heat after mixing, or the fucker will burn. Wait 5 minutes. Stir. Bring to slate table and eat queso out of pot with chips. Watch TV. How damn American. Put stupid dip in fridge. Olives were not in any jalapeno whatever. Put olives in jar. Later. - 7:46pm - The rest of dinner is a gnocchi gorgonzola and that goes down good. Cleanup time. This and the requisite emails take hours. - 10pm - I promised good ole RC that I would do a guest post for his blog, and I had taken some care to go to a Munich bar and shoot the photos of it. - 12am - Here's the post. - o2.06.10 - 2:30am - I received the most coherent mail I have received in a long time from the person I have spent nearly the last year with. It doesn't answer any questions and in fact it raises a lot more. And tomorrow (or today) is another day. I looked out off my balcony at this time and I saw the walk. The walk that says you can turn either way, and still be in the snow. Something about that, for sure.