You are here: Home » Blog » Personal Notes » Toiny


Yesterday I got a look behind the scenes of our local Narrenzunft (Fools Guild).  Every Fasching, or Carnival, I’ve been awed by the amazing costumes and masks, and highly entertained by the insane craziness of the parades (Fasching 2013;Fasching = Carnival;Fat Tuesday).  It has been my dream to learn more. Yesterday I learned more.

As we integrate more into our town, I notice more things that peek my curiosity. Lately, really since fall, I noticed more & more people wearing warm, cuddly hoodies with neon green “Narrenzuft Muteheer” stitched on the back.  I wanted one.  They were from our town & they were cool.

Turns out I can’t have one (don’t worry, I’m working on it!).  However.  I did get an invitation to last nights initiation of the new active members.  Passive members can participate in the parades, usually in normal clothing holding “our” Narrenzunft standard.  Active members, however, must go through an intense and hilarious hazing.

First years are given a costume to wear.  Our new first years were in Frog, Cow (milka cow!), and Racoon onsies.  Oh! And a psychedelic 70’s suit. My eyes are still burning.  Every year the hazing & requirements are a little different.  This year the newbies must wear rose crowns (and only one is a woman, much to their dismay), and throw rose petals.  The catch being that they have 1,000 rose petals but after Fasching (on Ash Wednesday) they must turn in 1,001.  They are also in charge of rolling out the red carpet for all active members & loudly announcing their arrival.  Germans are not naturally loud and outgoing.

After the initiation, the second year was given her new Hexen costume.  She will get her own, amazing, fabulous, hand-carved mask next year.  There was some hazing & drinking of magic potion.  The details are slightly vague to me but there was lots of loud cheering and laughing.

Finally the masks for the new full members were handed out. I drooled (just a little).  These masks are works of art.  Hand-carved, the tradition passed down within families. After, we drank glühwein (and I bought some little bottles of the home-made alcohols to take home) and I got to know more of the members.  I even managed to finagle an invitation to the local Narrenbäll next week!

Our local Narrenzuft has only been around since the beginning of last century, it was to separate from the Rhein Carnival celebrations and become it’s own south German tradition.  While it revolves around the religious holidays of Three Kings (official start of Fasching and the parades), through the last big celebration on Fat Tuesday (the last day of Fasching, with Ash Wednesday the next day), it is not considered a religious celebration.

It is more based on the much older practices (there are cave drawings dating back 15,000 to 10,000 BC) of warding off evil spirits.  Plus, it is always fun dressing up! Check me out trying out a Geister (ghost) mask last night!  Note the hair is real horsehair, I have a marten pelt on my head (it’s eyes glow brilliant green) and the owner put a lot of time & effort into customizing it after the carving was complete.


Be the first to comment ... Join the conversation!

Aaaaah! I’ve lost my battery charger.  My camera is dead.  I’m in deep mourning.  Not only did I lose my battery charger, but the last time I lost my battery charger Dave bought me a new, portable battery charger for in the car.

I didn’t lost my new portable car battery charger, but I did lose the cord that powers that new portable car battery charger.  Today I stopped at the local Media Markt to buy either a new battery charger, portable car battery charger or a cord for the portable car battery charger.  They had the new cord.  Bought it.

That stupid new cord made my almost-new portable car battery charger get all hot & smokey.  And.  It did not charge my camera battery, so it’s still dead.  My battery charger isn’t the only thing all hot & smokey.  I’m feeling fairly hot & smokey myself!

And.  Tonight was the big homecoming bonfire at Cole’s school.  They lit it right at sunset, a fairly spectacular sunset, and the pictures my camera took in my imagination… well, you’ll have to imagine along with me.  They were spectacular too.  My kids were so happy surrounded by friends, a big fire lighting them up beautifully. Hot & smokey.

Tomorrow is the big homecoming game, I’ll be on the field starting at 8:30 in the morning serving fresh, hot, homemade crepes to the boys and their families.  It will be an all-day affair as they set-up the field & bleachers, followed by the JV game, and finally the Varsity game in the early afternoon. I’m tired just thinking about it.  And hot & smokey I won’t have a camera!  I may be addicted.

I wanted to find a hot & smokey picture to illustrate how incredibly frustrated I feel tonight.  But instead I’m sharing one of my favorite photo’s from our trip to Holland last month for Operation Market Garden.

Be the first to comment ... Join the conversation!

Last week, for the first time in 20 years together, Dave & I went away for five whole days without any children.  It was the 70th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden, and Dave jumped as part of the commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem.

On Saturday we woke, way too early before five in the morning, to heavy fog.  The planes were grounded and the planned jumps into Ginkel Heath were delayed.  Eventually only half the jumps were rescheduled and we found ourselves with the luxury of wandering through the events, displays and ceremonies.  The actual DZ (drop zone) was located in the middle of nowhere, Holland.  The jumps that day planned to re-act the same jumps 70 years earlier, in the exact same location. We parked our van as close as we could, then joined the crowd hiking in. Soon we were surrounded by not just walkers, but also hundreds of bike riders.

Halfway to the DZ I heard a low rumbling, steadily getting louder and deeper.  At first I looked up, expecting the planes to be rolling in despite the lingering mist, then I realized it was coming from the ground right as the first half-track (part tank, part truck) came careening around the corner aiming straight for me.

Thankfully Dave pulled me to the side, and after five minutes of watching the British retreat (they were due for different ceremonies over in Nijmegen), I remembered my camera and pulled it out to quickly snap some photo’s.  More half-tracks passed, a troop transport, medical vehicles, motorcycles and scout bikes (comically small motorcycles dropped with the parachutists), and jeeps.  Lots and lots of old, lovingly restored WWII era jeeps.

Walking through the woods of my childhood that day was surreal.  A mix of modern and an era before my time, as bikes rode past and jeeps kicked up dust, while half-tracks and troop transports had me dodging behind trees.  I could almost feel the fear, and the elation, of my forefathers as vehicle after vehicle passed by.

When we finally reached the DZ, looking surprisingly like the practice DZs back at Ft. Bragg, I was overwhelmed to see thousands of people gathered for the commemoration events (news reports put it at 40,000).  It was at least a 6 kilometer hike in, and yet it felt like half my country was there to honor the Americans, Poles, Brits, French, Italian, Belgian soldiers who fought to liberate us 70 years ago. Operation Market Garden

1 comment ... Join the conversation!

Football is a way of Life

by Toiny Westberry 10 September 2014
Thumbnail image for Football is a way of Life

Way back in the dark ages, I was a high school cheerleader.  Back then I loved football! I loved the smell of fresh grass, the energy of the crowd, hot dogs, cheering. I loved night games under the bright lights, those are almost magical. I loved football. As the years passed, and we left California […]

0 comments Continue reading…


by Toiny Westberry 30 August 2014
Thumbnail image for DUDE! YOU EXIST!

We have 1-2 years left in Germany.  I can’t believe how fast our time here has gone. I can’t believe how much my kids have grown.  I really can’t believe how much of my bucket list I haven’t seen! I love travel.  I love new places, new sights, new smells, new foods!  When I realized […]

0 comments Continue reading…

The Amazing, Invisible, Sheep!

by Toiny Westberry 23 July 2014
Thumbnail image for The Amazing, Invisible, Sheep!

A couple of weeks (months?) ago I read, on the front page of our local paper, that the Schäferbier was brewed, bottled & ready for the Schäferlauf.  Now, Schäfer = sheep.  Bier is obvious & lauf = walk.  I quickly deduced that the sheep beer was ready for the sheep walk, but what was a […]

2 comments Continue reading…

A Last Goodbye

by Toiny Westberry 25 June 2014
Thumbnail image for A Last Goodbye

Last Tuesday, after a long day at Beekse Bergen, we deep into an epic Magic (the Gathering) battle in our rented bungalow just outside of Den Bosch, when my phone rang.  I didn’t have to answer to know it was my mom.  I didn’t have to answer to know my Tante Lia had passed away, […]

0 comments Continue reading…

My Fancy Futuristic Car

by Toiny Westberry 24 May 2014

Ever have a week, really a month, where everything goes wrong?  Yep.  That was me the last several weeks.  Thankfully it was not people-wrong, but mechanical-wrong. It started with the The Big, Red, Intimating, not-out-of-order Machine, it went out-of-order. Our hot water supply went to nil, our showers came to an end and the house […]

0 comments Continue reading…

My Beautiful Boy

by Toiny Westberry 19 April 2014
Thumbnail image for My Beautiful Boy

This past week we faced the worst turbulence ever, 18+ hours of travel, 3 trains, 2 planes, a subway and a bus to spend four days in the states with our beautiful boy.  Then we turned right around and did it again.  I am a travel bug.  I love to travel, but I do not recommend […]

1 comment Continue reading…


by Toiny Westberry 26 March 2014
Thumbnail image for Eigenwijs

Do you know what is worse than going to the funeral of my beloved Aunt? Going to see Oma the next day. The minute she saw us, she started to cry. It literally broke my heart into pieces and I dropped on the floor and just held her. Her head on mine, her body shaking […]

1 comment Continue reading…