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Empty the water, clean the filter

July 16th, 2014 No comments

It must be a remnant of my university days where laundry meant coins in slots and waiting on spinning agitators and tumbling dryers in order to have clean clothes ready to be hauled back to where ever I might be living. Or maybe it is the result of having lived in military stairwells where a bank of washers and dryers is shared property.

In any case, I think it should be an automatic courtesy when sharing laundry facilities with others, even if they are members of your own family.

After running the first load the other day I shoved them in the dryer. I just happened to glance down at the filter. Frowning I pulled it out, not all that amazed to find it covered lightly with lint. Given that happenstance it should be pretty obvious why I decided to check to make sure the water collector was empty. If you are scratching your head – we have a condenser dryer. No blowing hot air, no need to vent to the outside and no layer of dust attempting to snuggle into the clean clothes someone forgot to take upstairs this week. Last week? Month?

It wasn’t at all empty. In fact it was full.  The volume was enough that I would have had a mess on the floor if I had started this load. Now in the US you wouldn’t be able to start the dryer should the water receptacle be full as someone somewhere would have made that error, gotten a wet floor and promptly sued the manufacture when they slipped and fell. I live in Germany. There is an assumption of common sense and intelligence. We don’t have warnings on the toaster reminding us that sticking a fork in there could be hazardous to our health. Or that sitting in the bathtub with a hair dryer is more the sign of a Darwin candidate than not. Here – you are expected to figure out completely on your own that if the water is condensed out of your clothes in the drying process that the removable container needs to be emptied before it overflows.

I don’t mind loads being forgotten on occasion, that happens to all of us especially as age creeps up and the to-do list becomes overwhelmingly long. But not cleaning up after yourself? That is like leaving dishes in the sink.

Oh, wait. Forget that comparison since I am the one most likely to do that…..

 

Categories: family, home Tags:

The Fourth

July 4th, 2014 No comments

Courtesy of Maus since I spent the day shoveling more out of my studio. Visits from both Brigitte and Diana made the day go much faster.

Categories: family, home Tags:

Treasures

July 3rd, 2014 3 comments

I got sick of clothing and books so decided to tackle two of the cabinets in the living room.

 

cupboard on the one end

cupboard on the one end

all the "what do I do with it" contents

all the “what do I do with it” contents

cupboard on the other

#1  - cupboard on the left side

The first was easy – bunch of cruise stuff, scrapbook kits from cruises, never opened jigsaw puzzles and a hundred weight of 33 1/3 vinyl records ranging from German kids music to Jefferson Airplane and Israeli Folkdance music. I am currently ignoring the cassette tapes on the top shelf although I will have to decide about them fairly soon. I am thinking they are the missing Harry Potter audio tapes.

There are sturdy bookshelves between the sides which at one time were nicely organized but have since gained a dressing of book piles, decorative mugs, stones and a topping of Hannukah candles.  Please rest assured that no knitting contributed to the mess. Just additional books picked up in the last five years and dumped there by my husband who ran out of shelf space.

The other cupboard was more interesting to explore. I found a heavy duty folder stuffed with brochures, maps, museum books and leaflets from the Norway trip we made ~ 1996. At least that is what seems to match most of the dates. I also found German hotel and restaurant guides from 1990 and some school books. The top shelf held multiple decks of cards in their original wrappings from various museums, post cards and empty tins.

The middle shelf also had several folders where I found these -

the boy

the boy

Maus

Maus

who later became these two

IMG_0425 IMG_0426

 

and I just will leave you with one of their selfies from Jan

and both of whom have cut their hair since then

and both of whom have cut their hair since then

Categories: family, home Tags:

And the Champ

March 17th, 2014 2 comments

pictures to follow from crossing the finish line.

photo 2

Dani once again proved that with training and determination you can mange just about anything including coming in about 20 minutes sooner than the estimated time she provided the race organisers.

 

Alex and his family were there to cheer her on and help celebrate.  He is doing well post reconstructive surgery and now just (!) has to get throughout the next courses of chemo.

 

Thank you so much for your support and I will keep you posted on how they are doing

Categories: family Tags:

New York 1/2 Marathon

March 15th, 2014 No comments

15 March 2014 – Just a reminder

 

For those who missed it the first time around or just stopped to think a moment, then kept on going (and my thanks to those who made a pledge).

This is probably only time I will ever mention something about fundraising. Considering all the charitable foundations in the world, it is hard to say that any are less deserving that others. So it comes down to the personal – what matters to you, affects you, your family, your friends.

In the case of tomorrow – which is the New York City 1/2 Marathon – it is Daniela (Ms Soprano, Ms Journalist, Daughter #2) who is running to raise money. It is not like she has a real love of running or sees herself as doing something for the world. This is personal. As part of Fred’s Team – her pledges go to Cancer Research.

Why?  Alex, her boy friend and all around good person was diagnosed with osteosarcoma this past fall. Osteosarcoma is primarily a disease of young people, mostly teenagers with a few in their 20s. So far he has undergone surgery, chemo therapy, reconstructive surgery and has more chemo in his future (through to next fall).  He was back in New York finishing his last year of university after having spent a year in Chicago as part of TeachAmerica.  He had not planned obviously on spending this year primarily being a patient of Sloan Kettering or needing hats to replace the hair he no longer has.

The donation link is here, please consider pledging even a small amount if you can (and thank you to those who already have or are supporting others also running tomorrow).

 

Categories: family Tags:

Can’t win

March 8th, 2014 No comments

8 March 2014 – Can’t win?

It is a sea day, the first of two before we hit the port of Ushuaia again. Tomorrow we are supposed to be rounding Cape Horn. Or, if the seas and the weather continue to increase it may be the Drake Passage instead. Me? I would rather the passage. It is not that I have anything against going round the horn, but the glaciers are a lot cooler to watch as we sail by than a simple island with a light house and Albatross monument.

So shoot me, but I got to see them on the last cruise. Admittedly, it is nice to be able to say that you have seen them. I like glaciers better (grin). So no matter what the new captain of the vessel choses, and safety will rule, someone will be happy and others not.

The excitement of the day consisted of participating in a Cabin Crawl (everyone was pretty impressed by the size and layout of my simple outside cabin) and the mandatory presentations at the Captain’s Club (Loyalty bit) for the most days cruised. Even with the new numbers game on Celebrity, the folks on board who have been on since Miami are still not going to hit Marios (the top RCI person’s level…)

Anywho – I am still thinking about the Youngest’s comment that I didn’t say much about her! Might have been because I was posting a day late. Might have been because I am commenting about her a lot. But mostly, I wasn’t sure how much she really wanted me to say!

Categories: family, Travel Tags:

College Guy + Punta del Este

March 5th, 2014 No comments
Jan in the Caribbean

Noah this Jan in the Caribbean

Continuing with my trend of talking about my wonderful offspring on their birthdays – College Guy turns 23 today. He is steadily cranking his way through community college, working and taking a break every once in a while when I can convince him to leave town. That is how I was able to get him on a ship this Jan; his father to get him to San Diego for a weekend last year.

But he has always been the quiet one of our four. Perhaps it is because he was third of four. More likely because having three sisters would be overwhelming to just about anyone. More so because I am sure that they always “knew” what he wanted and were more than willing to speak for him. Being more of a math/science person than languages probably didn’t help. But at the same time -he was the one who could look at something – take it apart and put it back together. The one who easily figured out how to fix things and could be depended on for certain household chores.

He is well liked and respected at work – about school I have absolutely no clue. But 23 in my world is even more important than 16, 18, 0r 21. It is the age at which he falls off my ID support, our taxes but not our lives. I am not sure what he has planned for today. I am hoping that one thing is to get online and sign up for health care. I was thinking about sending him flowers…… In any case, I would be more than happy to send along birthday greetings.

Punta del Este

the hand reaching up from the sand

the hand reaching up from the sand

When I was 23, the thought of traveling most of the world was beyond reach. Sure, I had done the backpacking through Europe with the Eurail Pass for three months right after I graduated. Since I had almost no money, spending what was left didn’t seem like much of a big deal. I had what I had and it was going to have to last. Please remember that 1971/2 was prior to Internet, affordable phone calls. It was the era of American Express money transfer and letter drops. Of taking overnight trains to save the money for a nights lodging. In spite of being school smart, I was extremely dumb and naive -trust me on that.

So here I am, 40 + years later. Sitting in Uruguay at what is to me a most reasonable time in the morning. Not so here. Nothing opens before 0900 and I have a feeling that 1000 is more like it. Not Burger King, not McDonalds. Nothing but the gas stations. I don’t get the feeling that the current religious holiday (Ash Wednesday) has anything to do with it. I just don’t think people here get up early.

At 0900 a few of the cafes opened. I checked the usual suspects – they either don’t have wifi or serve as a base for one of the local providers (no account:no service)

I have my picture of the hand and have walked the town. The Manos del Uruguay shop here doesn’t carry yarn. Since I don’t need sweaters or hats, I am not going to stay till/if they open.

Categories: family, Travel Tags:

Shana

February 10th, 2014 No comments

Did I mention how proud I am of my oldest daughter?

It is hard being the first, paving the way and teaching the two genetically related adults how to be parents. Then, after all that work seeing your younger siblings get the benefit of all that experience. And not have to deal with as much angst and restrictions as you did.

She survived it well and has grown to be a lovely adult. She has pitched in for her sibs when needed with the result of having a rather interesting career path spanning both sides of the Atlantic pond. It looks like she may have yet another change on the horizon as she is contemplating going back to school for a Master’s Degree. I know she is competent and capable – she is the one who finished undergraduate in less than four years. She is looking primarily at programs on the west coast since Germany is not a contender for programs that give you much consideration for more than a decade of work experience.

Shana has also reached the age when I will simply say that her birthday is 10 Feb and no longer give you the year although she is well below the magic “39 forever” milestone. Following family tradition, we took her out to dinner.

IMG_1030

Categories: family Tags:

New York 1/2 Marathon

February 1st, 2014 No comments

Interrupting the normal travel and knitting log -

Consider all the charitable foundations in the world, most of whom are not shy about asking for your money – all in a good cause. Some of the causes are more interesting to you than others, but all are critical to someone.

Right now I am considering cancer, and what it does to anyone’s life, much that of a young person. Especially if you were just back in university for your senior year after spending a year in Chicago working in TeachAmerica. That pain and discomfort which you were reassured was a simple cyst – wasn’t. The semester was trashed, the rest of the year gone and you have no hair. Chemo therapy is not kind to anyone and the strain can be devastating. Your girlfriend, locked into a course which started on its once a year cycle in September is beside herself. What she can do is run, coming back from a foot fracture a couple of years ago.

And so that takes it to my daughter #2 who plans on entering the 16 March 2014 Half Marathon in New York City. Osteosarcoma is primarily a disease of young people. Teenagers to be blunt and uncommon enough that Dani decided that contributions to Sloan Kettering’s Research would be the best way to go. The donation link is here, please consider it.

Categories: family Tags:

Jacqueline Mertes Bird 1926-2014

January 30th, 2014 No comments

It was going to be Antigua That is where I am today – another little slice of paradise in the Caribbean. Like many of the other islands, the story of the island involves explores from South America via boats down the Orinoco, European colonial powers, slavery, disease and long battles for self determination. Instead I am going to divert to more personal matters.  Most of the time, when someone writes about an essay/obituary it is all about the good, wonderful things the person did. This is more about reaching an understanding for myself about how life experiences shape you, influence your choices and interactions with the world. Some of it made sense to me growing up, other parts are my interpretation being long past the point of my  life where any of it is personal, which may say more about me than her.

Jacqueline Mertes born 23 Sept 1926 died Jacqueline Bird 29 Jan 2014.

To be a small child during the depression is something that I can’t imagine. To worry about your next meal, to not feel welcome in the home where you and your mother live, to wear hand-me-downs. It is not an experience that I can claim any coherent understanding. What I do know now is that it formed the core of Linn’s being and personality. To hold part of oneself in reserve and to always expect the axe to fall. My mother and grandmother Esther lived with the eldest of  Esther’s sister in small town Minnesota after they left California when Linn was small. To be a child without two parents in the middle of a narrow minded community would have been a challenge for the most strong of will. Doing well in school would have been an exit strategy.

Attending the University of Minnesota, Linn graduated in 1948 with one of the liberal arts BA which qualified you to be a secretary (if you could also type) or a MRS which is what I think she really wanted. To be part of a family, to be on the inside rather than an observer.

My parents were married in 1948. I was born in 1950, April in 1954. I am sure that my mother was not what my grandparents had envisioned  for their “prince of a son.” I don’t think she understood the uphill battle she was facing. Thinking back, I can’t imagine two people less suited for each other (past the flash of initial attraction) with one sure he ruled the world and the other just waiting for something to go wrong. .It did, which should not have been a surprise and I am sure that there was plenty of blame to go around. But my sister and I were caught in the middle and suffered all what I know are the normal reactions of children trapped in a silent battle ground. April was cute, I was smart and the two of us were never encouraged to be close by either of our parents.

Looking back, I now know that Linn did what she needed to in order to survive and put a roof over our heads. I will tell you that in line with the average teen I had more than the usual amount of hostility and anger being caught in the mess and not understanding much of what was happening. Self-centered is a way of life at that age. She remarried to Melvin Bird in about 1965. None of which I understood till I was in my mid-thirties with a terrific husband and an incredibly lovely daughter to think about having to start over at that age with nothing but two children who needed love, food, stability. She did what the women of her generation did.

I really don’t know much about her life between when I left home in 1968 till 1985. She came to our wedding in 1978 and exhibited disapproval at the way I was living my life. Or I though it was until I realized that she was mostly scared that something bad would happen to me.  She and Mel visited when we moved to DC the first time. The experience was not a positive one to put it mildly.

I next saw Linn ~ early 2000 when I attended a meeting in Albuquerque, NM. Meeting on a middle ground was the best I could do. I never saw her again which meant I could keep my prejudices intact about her smoking, drinking and priorities of which I had not felt that I was one.

Now, dealing with the aftermath of her death in Arkansas it is probably time I grow up as well. To let go of hurts and slights. To examine how it has affected me and my choices. To hope that she had good years with the choices she made. It is not the same as when George’s mother died; a person who had devoted her life to her husband, son, grandchildren, family and beliefs. Her passing was a hole in our lives that has healed. Linn has not been part of my life for decades.

I can’t find tears, feeling or emotions at her death; I lost those back in my teens. What I can do is feel relief that I was able to do at least a minimum for her: to make sure that her wishes were respected with regards to DNR, excessive measures.  To make sure that anything she left behind goes to April, the daughter who had the longest and most difficult burden.

Linn was lovely and loved. I will grieve for the person she was before Alzheimer’s took her away. I can have regret for choices that we both made; ones that set us permanently on different paths. If she hadn’t been who she was I would never have had the drive to go to school, achieve, support myself and hug my children.

Those are not insubstantial gifts and will last far longer than the basic gift of life and breath.

 

 

 

Categories: family Tags:

Day 12

January 11th, 2014 1 comment
Ms Maus & College Guy

Ms Maus & College Guy

My travel companions who are currently (allegedly packing). Unless, of course, they are sleeping

Categories: family, Travel Tags:

plus two

January 4th, 2014 No comments
The Route

The Route

The Ship

The Ship

and the two youngest who are coming along!

 

 

ITINERARY

DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Sat Jan 4 Fort Lauderdale, FL 5:30pm
Sun Jan 5 At Sea
Mon Jan 6 At Sea
Tue Jan 7 St. Maarten 8:00am 6:00pm
Wed Jan 8 St. Kitts 7:00am 5:00pm
Thu Jan 9 San Juan, Puerto Rico 7:00am 2:00pm
Fri Jan 10 Labadee, Haiti 10:00am 6:00pm
Sat Jan 11 At Sea
Sun Jan 12 Fort Lauderdale, FL 5:30am
Categories: family, Travel Tags:

She’s 25 already

December 18th, 2013 No comments

It was just after 0100 in the morning that Ms Daniela (aka Ms Soprano, Ms Journalism) decided to make her entrance 18 Dec 1988. Over the years I have watched her grow from an amazingly determined toddler into a smart but shy with others school girl to self confidence in her musical abilities. She is perhaps harder on herself than anyone else and I am afraid has picked up too many of my traits (which is not always a positive if included on the list are not suffering fools and procrastination). Dani is loyal to a fault which can and has been taken advantage of by friends.
This year is a rough one for her – she is involved in a demanding and intensive broadcast technical course while managing apartment, dog and life. Her boyfriend is in NYC in the middle of his first round of chemotherapy. She was there over Thanksgiving with her next visit over New Years. Unfortunately, she can’t take a break from her course without forfeiting the entire year.

If you have her email from last year, send her a birthday greeting or else I will gladly forward (says the proud mom).

Categories: family Tags:

Socks

August 2nd, 2013 11 comments

Doing too much laundry in the heat (36°C in the shade) including running a couple of loads through the dryer before intelligence kicked in might just be my only excuse. I was sick of the pile of dirty things on the floor and the mess of the laundry room. Additionally I needed laundry baskets so I went hunting.

And that must have been when insanity struck. There were a number of partly full baskets stacked around my husband’s side of the closet. Consolidating them was simple. I had started with the thought that I might even put some of it away but the realization hit me with exceeding rapidity. The shirts were crumpled – it was going to be iron or re-wash. Duh – no decision there. The rest could be folded quickly. Almost, but not quite. Socks do not fold quickly.

By the time I had them all gathered up, those sucks socks had multiplied into dozens and dozens of single smug individuals daring me to make a fuss. So back I went to the laundry room to gather up all the orphans and give them a wash in the next load. If I was going to do this – might as well maximize the results and toss the rest.

months and months - or years? of socks

months and months – or years? of socks

 

So I informed the socks who were trying to slither out of sight under the couch or inside pairs of jeans. Match or be discarded, I informed them. They sneered at me in their multi-sized, colored, and shaped glory. Make us!

So I started the division. It became rapidly obvious that there were far fewer of white, or had be born out of the package originally white

in at least three lengths

in at least three lengths

Where as the black/brown/grey/navy crew had proliferated exuberantly and had no interest in being made to function in sedate pairs.

instead holding a football scrum in defiance

instead holding a football scrum in defiance

Even an attempt to line them in orderly ranks dissolved in the face of variety of size, shape and design much less position as displayed. Do you know how many shades of black exist?

If I line them all up, they pitch fits and throw themselves on the floor.

If I line them all up, they pitch fits and throw themselves on the floor.

I won a partial battle

and so declared victory.

and so declared victory.

I am going to do a last sort tomorrow in strong daylight before tossing all the excess in the garbage. Wonder how smug those unrepentant partnerless socks are going to be then …..

Categories: family, home, socks Tags:

she doesn’t need to be art

July 26th, 2013 1 comment

For the last decade she has been sitting quietly on the top shelf of the bookcase watching over the back hall. For reasons that I have never examined too closely, I never felt comfortable having her on display in the living room nor that it might be necessary to do so.

ER2C8289

ER2C8270

I vaguely remember her creation – I was youngish. Maybe about 6-9? But certainly long before my teens. I don’t spend a lot of time remembering that portion of my life. There was reading, there was home where I did a lot of reading and school which I detested with every last fiber of my being. The only thing worse at that time of my life was riding the school bus. Which means, if I want to narrow down a time frame, it must have been when we lived in Hopkins on Drill Lane since I don’t remember my mother doing much sculpting after we moved out to Excelsior. It is stunning to realize, when I count back that this means my mother at the time was about the age that our Eldest is now.

Never seeing a likeness nor understanding her slightly asymmetrical face I had relegated her possession to somewhere in the back of my mind. Even when Maus created a self-portrait bust I didn’t see a resemblance. Stubborn set to the chin – no question but to me the face/head are generic. I also don’t remember exactly when she came into my possession. I know that my sister managed to get Atlas to me after we moved to Heidelberg. I am still wondering what happend to the Giant in chains who I always appreciated- but the Lady?

Then today I had hats to photograph. After doing various assorted standard flat things, it occurred to me that a bust might be just the ticket.

Cleaning off a thick layer of dust gave me an idea of exactly how long she has been ignored and neglected. Both the block of the base needed careful tending. She is porcelain clay with a glaze.

Then I tried on the hats!

Categories: family, home, Knitting Tags:

Major milestone

July 11th, 2013 1 comment

65 has got to be one of those milestones that is so far in the future when you are a college student that you can’t imagine every being that old. Nor probably that life doesn’t end at the age of 30.

Some of us like to celebrate birthdays – others (like me) are more than pleased to have gained another year of experience but would rather skip all the excitement.

My husband is one who enjoys a party. What is more, it has become almost an annual event in July – on his birthday (the 11th which is why you are reading this) or as close to it as he can come given weekdays are not the best time for friends to hang around on the terrace, drink beer and BBQ.

Go ahead, wish him a happy birthday – grATaeris-capitalDOTcom

Categories: family Tags:

one clock for another

March 9th, 2013 1 comment

Where two years ago my life was regulated by staff meetings, videot-eleconferences and the meal times of what ever DFAC I was able to tolerate at the moment, today my life is bounded by docking and on board times. Yes the concern of matching meal times is there, but faintly on the horizon since it is possible to get food 24/7 on a ship.

It is still under two years ago since I redeployed from Afghanistan via the Air Force in one of their few charitable acts (not being known for their willingness to make life easier for non-MEDVAC patients but having enough sense to fill extra seats since it really didn’t cost them any extra effort). 

I turned in ACUs – in fact I have gotten rid of essentially any and all clothing that even remotely resembled my uniforms in favor of the uniform of a civilian. There are few mementos in our house. Those that up on the kitchen wall I am planning on replacing with photos and art from travels.

My uniform now is Jack Wolfskin casual made up of t-shirts, long & short sleeve shirts along with pants in varying shades of grey and black with the occasional bite of red thrown in for luck. For dress up, there is a skirt/top in mostly black with a couple of color accents. I have jogging gear where the only color really comes from rainbow shoes just for cheeriness.

I now have an iPhone which I keep on airplane mode most of the time just to avoid roaming charges but it seems tho that I still bound my life with schedules. I still know where I am going to be for almost every day between now and next year at this time. The difference is that I am making the choice and am not at the whim of some faceless bureaucracy in DC or some commander who is more concerned about their own evaluation than they are about those who work for them.

Perhaps in a couple of years this phase of my life may be over as well, but there are so many places to go and ports to see ….. in my personally chosen choice of clothes…

Categories: family, military Tags:

done with the teens

March 6th, 2013 Comments off

as of today we no longer have a teenager in the house. Last but certainly not least – Maus turns 20.

6 March 1993

6 March 1993

such a small bundle developed her own style

warrior princess

warrior princess

and way of viewing the world

toys?

toys?

she makes friends

a few springs ago

a few springs ago

with the boys last summer

with the boys last summer

 

packing

packing

and headed back to school this fall leaving the house rather quiet.

I am sure she doesn’t think of herself as the baby of the family; and we no longer have a teenager!

Categories: family Tags:

The handsome guy

March 5th, 2013 2 comments
barely two

barely two

Rather than bother to talk about St Maartens (where I am sitting in a cafe with bad coffee and a slow connection) I would rather talk about this guy who has grown into

in Egypt

in Egypt

2011

2011

last year on a birthday

last year on a birthday

which means that a 7#13oz baby born in 1991 can turn into a completely functioning, happy and healthy 22 year old young man. He does himself proud.

He is in Scottsdale, I am in St Maarten.

Categories: family Tags:

Not even 60

February 14th, 2013 4 comments

George took the call from Reiner this afternoon.

We met Nina Fink in In the summer of 1994. Out in one of the small towns near Heidelberg at a Fest and there was a group of spinners. One of them was Nina. She reached out to this fairly lost American and made me feel welcome in the local spinning guild. Over the next several years she and I got to know each other better at various spinning demonstrations and Spinntreff. Our families got together for various picnics and other events. My eldest has been good friends with their eldest for years and we have known their youngest since birth. George and Reiner have collaborated on some projects.

Since they live off the end of the earth (train or car to Eberbach then head up into the Odenwald till you feel like you have traveled back decades. The old house in which they live used to be a guesthouse complete with hof, barn/stables/carriage house and a huge room for parties. The place was packed on her 40th birthday (14? 15? years ago).

What with the distance and my retirement, the last time we physically saw each other was at our home in May 2011 (Been there, Done with That party).

Nina in the yellow shirt and her son Tim. Nanawolf is in the middle

Nina in the yellow shirt with her son Tim. Nanawolf is in the middle

Apparently she started feeling ill and developed what is often called “the dwindles” about six months ago. Repeated doctor visits didn’t come up with a cause. But Nina was her own person as well; German by birth she became an Australian citizen when they lived there 25 years ago. Didn’t matter to her what the local Amt had to say when she returned about residency permits and the like. Aussie she had decided to be, and Aussie she was. So you might say a bit stubborn. She turned down the advanced diagnostics offered.

Last Thursday, 7 Feb, she took a sudden turn for the worse and went the “stop breathing, ambulance, resuscitation, hospital, intensive care” route but nothing worked.

Reiner called tonight to tell us. It turned out to be disseminated cancer. There will be a memorial service in about a week.

Bright, funny and extremely capable, her loss will be felt not just by her family but all the rest of us who knew her. One of those people who helped without question and rarely asked for much of anything in return. Saying someone was a good mother, goat herder, spinner and baker might not be impressive to many in this day and age but it made a difference to her husband and children.

Besides feeling the hole that is there, I acknowledge my share of anger. At myself for not staying in closer touch since we always think we have all the time in the world. And at Nina for not being willing to find out what was wrong in the face of increasing physical illness. She might not have chosen to live her life any differently, but her family would have had time to come to terms with a future empty of her.

George and I looked at each other. We will do what we can for both Reiner and Timmy over the coming months. We also made the commitment to each other to “knock you over the head and drag you in by the hair (long, short, doesn’t matter)” if either of us gets ill. I am a believer in knowledge as a way to exercise what little control one has in this life. Denial and avoidance generally don’t have any better result than having information and can limit choices.

I can’t die in my mid-50s – I am already well past that. Losing friends younger than me? Just should not happen…….

Categories: family, home, Spinning Tags:

It wasn’t all that long ago

February 10th, 2013 5 comments
Feb 1979

Feb 1979

That she was a baby. At least in mom time it seems like just yesterday instead of 34 years ago that I had my first baby, toddler,

1982

1982

young girl. She has risen to the challenge of multiple moves as a result of her dad’s and my careers. Changed schools, changed cities, survived the growth of our family by three younger siblings. Got her degree in Hospitality & Hotel Management and entered the job market just in time to get flattened by the post 2001 tourism slow down. Over the years she has worked in hotels, restaurants and as a professional photographer. Like me, she spends more time behind the camera lens than in front of it.

In spite of all the challenges over the years, she has maintained a strong sense of self. Since she lives in Schwetzigen I still get to see her quite often. I enjoy spending time with the lovely competent woman my Eldest has become.

definitely blue eyes

definitely blue eyes

please send her birthday wishes

Categories: family, home Tags:

Airport Runs and other stupidity

January 10th, 2013 5 comments

Maus had a 1050 flight this morning on Lufthansa back to NYC. Angel, the friend who came for a visit has a flight later in the day on BA via Heathrow. Not being a totally or completely unsympathetic mother sentencing off-spring and guest to early morning train rides I had offered to drive them to Fraport. The only warning I had given was that we had to be on the road by 0630.

It was not that I thought that she needed to be at the airport that early, or I wanted to sentence Angel to extra hours of hanging out and being totally bored. Rather, I know the traffic on the Autobahns after about 0730 in the morning and I just didn’t want to be in it.

You can imagine my surprise at 0625 when I had both of them, Maus complete with carryon and Angel with both of his bags completely packed, standing in the dining room. Of course, this did not include a bit of art that Miriam had painted last summer that was apparently destined to travel with them. It wasn’t wrapped in anything because she didn’t think we had any bubble wrap.

I am not a horder, but I am a packrat. Bubble wrap was in the cupboard with the wrapping, packing and shipping supplies along with scissors and tape. Ten minutes later we had wrapped up canvas and were headed to the car me on foot, the kids via the elevator. End result was that we were on the road at 0650.

You know where I am going with this.

Everything was fine flying up the A5 until we hit the 67/5 Interchange. The signage had been updated. Darmstadt on one sign, Frankfurt on the other. No mention of Flughafen at all. Since my mind was thinking Frankfurt, I stuck with the A67. Less than one exit later I realized my mistake and bailed off toward Darmstadt (yes, you can get there from the A67 as well as the A5). However there was road construction. This particular road construction eliminated the entrance onto A5 from our direction. The end result was that I had to head to the Darmstadter Ost Bahnhof to find a safe to turn around, turn on the GPS and head back toward the A5. Getting on going north wasn’t an issue from this direction.

Of course, once we were on the A5 traffic was at a standstill. It was 0730. For the next 45 minutes we traveled a whopping whole 17 km with the traffic not clearing out till the Flughafen exit. I dropped the kids off about 0820 which was significantly later than I had planned.

Luckily there was essentially no traffic on the way home. I was able to stop at PHV and drop off library books, clear out my mailbox and be home well before 1000.

Now it is just a matter of catching up on all the posts and emails I have been avoiding all week. Packing – can’t forget the packing which can’t happen till I get a couple of loads of laundry completed.

So I think knitting is a much better idea since I don’t have to catch a train before 0430 in the morning….

Contrast & Complement

in reds and greys – Schoppel Ombre

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the older two

October 25th, 2012 1 comment

It is at times like this – looking at past pictures when I fully recognize how much like each other my daughters look.

The Eldest circa 2004

Dani, about the same era

Now I will admit that hair styles change both in color and length over the years – right now neither of the older girls are being Alice [in Wonderland] as well as clothing styles and tastes.

But they both are smart, loyal, brave. Both have the ability to exceed their own expectations as well as those of others. Happiness comes from with-in, but as a parent I still enjoy being able to say … my daughter the ……

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those were the days

October 23rd, 2012 1 comment

This evening as I finally found an adapter plug which worked with the Swiss outlets….. (insert whatever kind of rant you think you would enjoy the most – fact is the Swiss have to be unique on everything. Everything includes a three pin outlet. Not two like the rest of Europe but three. Plus they are set in a staggered line. Must have rant somewhere, can’t believe I haven’t howled about this before).

Anyway – I am attempting to locate the backup of photos I took for Aeris’ Christmas party last December (insert rant here about having burned off DvD and entrusted it with guy to take to work ….). As part of this fruitless hunt along with pulling together lecture materials for a series on Staying Healthy while Traveling or perhaps – Travel Smart, Travel Healthy or finally – Idiot’s guide to not eating yourself to death while on a cruise ship….

Where was I? Oh yes, looking for photos and lecture materials all of which were dependent on being able to plug one of several rather large and heavy external drives into a power supply….. The DHs flat mate gave me an adapter plug last night. It was gone this morning. Tore out my hair but that didn’t help. Turned out it was plugged into the hairdryer….

I found lots of old photos, including the following – which made me realize that we often talk too much about what our children are accomplishing or doing, but little about who they really are….

The youngest two, captured about 14 years ago.

College Guy, back in 1998

Maus – circa 1998

And it is who they are – not how they are doing in school, their jobs, or life – but just them.

And now the other two will worried about how I will feature them tomorrow…..

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Follow that snore

October 22nd, 2012 Comments off

Did I mention that I elected to head to Switzerland this morning with George? It seemed like the thing to do since it is not as if we have been spending a whole lot of time together over the last 6 weeks what with both his business trips and me spending more than a bit of time on the Vision of the Seas. All of which may go to explain why I spent the morning in the car, the afternoon in part of the office moving files and otherwise thinking I should possibly be getting some work done.

The flat in Wollerau is second floor (US) and up a set of outside stairs. Getting there this evening involved a short drive in the car, hauling various bags and backpacks full of my computer stuff and then waiting on Frank (the business partner who shares the place) since our key happens to be in Heidelberg.

Fully exhausted, I crashed fairly early, then woke just short of midnight unable to sleep which probably has a lot to do with time zones. Not turning on lights, I was able to locate my computer at the dining area table by dint of the screensaver.

Finding my way back to bed was even easier. Two bedrooms, one with the door shut and the other occupied by the man I love dearly. All I had to do was follow my ears to locate him in the dark.

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Another year survived

October 2nd, 2012 2 comments

And another year older. Thank all of you who have already sent me emails. I think all of you do a better job than I in tracking such things.

So rather than entertain you with the fact that I have survived another year, a number of cruises, getting all the off spring out of the house and more than a full year of retirement – I will just give you pictures!

I managed to avoid formal night tonight. Sushi seemed like a better idea. Besides – who in their right mind wants to be embarrassed in public by out of tune waitstaff attempting Happy Birthday. So not my thing……

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St John, NB

September 10th, 2012 1 comment

Just to mention it, but 2012 seems to be following the pattern George and I had established for years. His birthday, our anniversary, my birthday – we are in different cities, different countries and often on different continents.   Today it is 67F in New Brunswick. It was in the 90s in Minnesota that fine Sunday afternoon in 1978 that we were married.  Today, it isn’t flowers, just love and greetings sent by email from different cities, countries, continents. I am not going to count up the number of years that this has happened, just grateful that it is travel for fun – rather than a deployment to Afghanistan that is causing the challenge.

I am sorry he is not here in Canada, but still – I love ships and I really think he likes his job just a bit better than cruising!

St John itself has an interesting history. To hear the guides tell it, the area was “discovered in the 1640s.” Then of course there were first the French who turned it over to the British as part of the settlement of the British-French wars. Then there were the Patriots who moved north (about 70k of them) after the US Independence. Then about 31k of Irish were imported since they needed someone to do the work.

I headed out of town on a short rail journey to see the river empty into the Bay of Fundy. Since the tide level change is about 28′ there is flow back up the river for several miles during high tide creating a very interesting marine environment (including seals having a nice snack on the fish stupid enough to be washed up river into the fresh water).  The area is called the reversing falls.

Wandering a bit around the city as well to the Jewish Museum (community once 300+ families and thriving, now down to about 30), the New Brunswick Museum and a yarn shop (where I bought….. nothing!) prior to heading back to the ship. Pictures are not yet downloaded – so I will post them on line tomorrow.

Categories: family, Travel Tags:

kid an hour

August 26th, 2012 2 comments

(or two as the case maybe).

As we were sitting there relaxing, looking at computers and other nonsense – George mentioned we should call kids in the states. As it is 1600 here, that might/might not be a good idea.

-6 hrs to Maus

-7 hrs to Soprano

-9 hrs to CollegeGuy

after all, it is the weekend. Not everyone rolls out of bed at the crack of dawn or, let us say, 0800 on a Sunday morning. But I can pick up the phone every hour and talk to a different kid – not so bad in either the short or long term. Of course, after tomorrow I will be in the states and the time zones will be less.

Which reminds me, I am feeling calm and organized for my trip tomorrow, I was packed completely (except for winding some yarn) by 1500. This left plenty of time this afternoon to back up computers, print out the occasional thing, spin a bit and otherwise clean up.

Would have helped if I had remembered my boarding pass before 2100, but that is another story.

Back to a kid an hour. After playing with WhatsApp to txt with all three girls while at dinner, we started calling when we got home. First Maus, since she is on Eastern Time. Next up would be Nina, except she was at the train station meeting a friend. Then comes Noah. Which means, of course that we reached Noah first who is recovering from pneumonia, then the Maus and it looks like I will finally be able to reach Nina.

Now to print a boarding pass and crash. What a concept – bed before midnight!

 

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Back of Beyond

August 23rd, 2012 Comments off

George has belonged to a discussion group for years. Like since Ms Soprano started kindergarten. The guys have gotten together on Thursday nights on a weekly basis and done the occasional weekend or trip.

They are all getting older, about 20 years at that. One of them I believe has just retired to the Odenwald. This Thursday they decided to meet out there, complete with wives being invited.

I don’t know that you care to see all the people, but thought I would share the more important things….

 

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has it been that long?

August 17th, 2012 Comments off

I am so confused anymore that I don’t remember if I wrote this – or just planned on writing it – so please bear with me. (or put up with the bare essentials of the story).

On the ship one evening we had dinner with three other couples, all of whom were doing back-to-back (normally abbreviated B2B) cruises. They had started in Vancouver around the time we started from Fairbanks, stayed with the ship through the turnaround in Seward and were now heading home. They all lived in or near Vancouver as I remembered.

Partway through the meal one woman remarked that she was going to need a couple of days to get back in the routine of cooking dinner every night. The other two women agreed with her.

George looked at me with a straight face. I looked back and seriously asked – when was the last time I fixed dinner? He didn’t know. Neither did I. Might have done since I have been back from deployment (that would be March 2011) but don’t think so – not if fixing a meal includes him (and anyone else who happens to be home at the time).

Since I was in the UK between Jan 2008-Aug 2010, that time probably doesn’t count – George wasn’t there. Miriam says I did cook there, at least some of the time.

So that leaves me back to late 2007: that is over 4 1/4 years.

I fixed dinner tonight. It was only the two of us but I made spinach and mozzarella & tomato salad to accompany the oven grilled salmon. Not that the flash frozen filets were anywhere as tasty as the fresh caught Alaskan we had been enjoying for the cruise-tour but tossing the filets into some white box wine and covering them with herbs did enhance the flavor some.

So – besides having decent fingernails for the first time in years due to all my protein consumption – am I off the cooking hook till 2016?

Categories: family, home Tags:

waiting on the delivery truck

July 16th, 2012 2 comments

I have decided that hanging out and waiting on delivery people is even harder than going out and doing things.

There you are, stuck in one place for hours on end because they are coming on “Monday or Tues” or “Tues/Wed”

In any case you know exactly what is going to happen: be gone (or in the bathroom) for more than five minutes and you can almost guarente that whomever you are waiting on is going to show up. Even if the delivery people have your phone number, it is not going to help since the only time anyone is going to call is after they are sitting in your driveway. Some how it seems to make more sense to them than getting out of the truck to knock on the door or ring the bell. Must be to do with Arizona and the summer heat.

If you hang out all day – then the second of the two possible delivery days is going to turn out to be the correct one, trust me.

OTOH – it may mean a lot of time available for knitting!

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