Wednesday, June 29, 2005
After work this evening, and once Donica's truck is packed with our combined stuff, we'll join Mark, Amy and Nicholas for the all-night, early-morning 13+-hour drive in 2 vehicles. With 2 drivers per car, we trade off the driving and sleeping. We've done it so many times we've got it down to a science.
The cottage, btw, is on Horseshoe Lake just north of Stanton, on the outskirts of which I always stop to buy smoked white fish. Important detail! But first, outside of Chattanooga, TN, we'll stop to purchase our Big-Bang supplies. This is a big deal each year as the families around the lake try to out-do each other with fireworks. So we get into it big-time. Big Big Big. Sometimes we even stretch out the competition over two nights, which I'm guessing we'll do on Saturday and Sunday. Most of us are traveling on the actual 4th holiday and aren't around to see what happens that Monday night.
Actually, with 2 cars this year, Donica and I will stay till Tuesday, giving us a couple more days of R&R. Nice! Until we're back again, I'll have no internet connection for posts. Just vacation! And flitting from one family conversation to another!
Traveling mercies to us all, you included, for a great holiday weekend!
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Somehow, over all his 86 years, Graham has come through mostly unscathed in his private/public life. Doesn't mean he never made some faux-pas statments. But when he did, he called them for what they were and apologized whole-heartedly. He stuck to a simple message and purposely eschewed politics. "If I get up and talk about some political issues, it divides the audience," he told a news conference in New York this week. "And what I want is a united audience to hear only the gospel."
So, how did it go over when Bill and Hilary Clinton sat up on the stage this past weekend of what most believe is Billy's last US crusade? "Clinton spoke briefly late on Saturday before Graham's sermon and recalled how the man known as America's pastor had refused to preach before a segregated audience in Arkansas decades ago when that State was in a bitter fight over school desegregation.Graham called the Clintons 'wonderful friends' and 'a great couple,' quipping that the former president should become an evangelist and allow 'his wife to run the country.'"
It was enough to make National Clergy Council president Rev. Rob Schenck walk out on his 25-year role model, Billy Graham. "'This was a deliberate, cunning, purely political move by the Clintons to divide the Evangelical vote and assure Hillary of a victory in '08,' said Schenck, a minister with the Evangelical Church Alliance and a missionary to elected officials."
ARRGH! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE!!!!
I grew up in an evangelical, conservative Christian home. BUT! I learned about forgiveness and grace as a little girl; I learned that God is so much bigger than holding grudges and making scapegoats out of people who repent of their mistakes; I learned that I don't have to be the judge because someone much more all-knowing will do it for me. I also learned to take a joke!
Forgive, me, all you Rob Schencks out there, but that kind of evangelical, conservative Christianity is NOT for me! You embarrass the heck outta me...and I'm quite certain outta my dad, who rests in peace.
In fact, I'm quessing Dad can hardly wait to have a nice little chat with Billy! Waiting at The Gates for him, I'm sure, knowing how ill he is....
Monday, June 27, 2005
J. K. (Joanne Kathleen) Rowling: born in Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, England, in 1965; graduated from Exeter University and worked as a secretary; later spent time teaching English as a second language in Portugal, where she married a TV journalist; after the marriage fell apart, she moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, with her 4-month-old daughter and was unemployed for awhile. She first thought of Harry Potter while riding a train back in 1990. "Harry just strolled into my head fully formed," she says. She worked on the first book for several years, finding quiet moments while her daughter napped, but was turned down by several publishers before one, Bloomsbury, finally took interest.
The rest is history! She currently resides in Scotland with her second husband and three children.
Talk about the creativity of this woman! I can't tell you how many times I have exclaimed, "How did she ever think that up!" I've laughed out loud so many times that Donica is sure I'm crazy by now. Whoever would have thought, for example, that people in pictures hanging on the wall could overhear first-year students trying to find their way to class and get all excited about helping them with directions...even to the point of running from one frame to the next to guide. Unbelievable.
I just finished the 5th book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix...all 870 pages...in preparation for the 6th book coming out on 7/16. Most of us know by now that adults love these books as much as the kids. It's a different kind of Star Wars, with the build-up of forces between good and evil. I don't know about you but I'm dying to find out what happens next and in the final, 7th book.
HipHipHorray to anyone who can get kids to read all 870 pages in one weekend! Like I said, she deserves it all!
Saturday, June 25, 2005
She's Back! And with "back," another Nicholas sleepover and the Waffle House jukebox came and went just before the weekend!
But today, Friday, felt like the weekend because Donica took the day off. Well, sort of. She did some early-morning business calls from home and then she was off. After Waffle House, our main business of the morning was putting Nicholas' wrapped-coins "24 money" (see 6/12 post) in the bank. We wanted him with us as we opened up his account, hoping something about putting money in the bank sticks. You think?
It's hard and boring to sit still in a bank, waiting for the lady to finish up with someone else! So Nicholas and I walked up and down the sidewalk outside till we got the energy out of our systems and then did all that paperwork back inside. B-o-r-i-n-g!
But the customer-service lady was quite impressed with the business transaction and made Nicholas feel he had done some really cool thing (she has a Nicholas grandson, too, a year older). Donica was the one who did the cool thing, of course. I think she envisions a car outta this some day in the not-too-distant future! Thinking ahead.
I came back home with Mary Poppins in my head!
When you deposit tuppence in a bank account
Soon you'll see
That it blooms into credit of a generous amount
And you'll achieve that sense of stature
As your influence expands
To the high financial strata
That established credit now commands.
Ah yes. Tuppence, patiently, cautiously, trustingly invested in the, to be specific...fidelity fiduciary bank!
Thursday, June 23, 2005
He was carrying around a highfalutin digital camera (like Mark's) that uses extra lenses, etc., which got us talking. He's a teacher in CT but does photography as a hobby. And what a hobby (thus this post)! He wants people to see his work, of course, so I told him I'd like to put him out there, so to speak, for any of you who might enjoy his verbal and visual art. He totally agreed.
It wasn't easy to pick from his photos (I originally picked a couple from Prague) but decided on two from nature that I really like. His section on The Gates (yes, THE The Gates!) made me feel I actually had gone to Central Park in February after all. He has assured me that my digital camera is just fine, even if it can't get the close-ups or the zoomed-in details of his better lenses. I guess the main thing is composition, which is part of why I enjoy photography to begin with.
BTW, my brother Bennett ("may he rest in peace") would really dig Ted. Maybe someday they'll have a real go at it. Mark, too!
Be forewarned: even with a DSL connection, it takes time for his photos to pop up. So if you're on dial-up, might as well forget it (except for thumbnails on "Little Pond" and "The Gates"). For the rest of you, here's a chance to see what has become an inspiration to me. I learn by observing, so his site has been valuable to me.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
This is a rug made out of Wal-Mart plastic bags. YES! In this particular case, it's woven on a loom. But you can also crochet it with a large metal crochet hook no smaller than "J" size. Cut the plastic bags into strips no less than 1-inch wide. Wind your strips into a ball tying one strip to the next. And Silke, just crochet away! (Let me know if you need the instructions.)
You can use plastic from anywhere: grocery bags, dry-cleaning, bread wrappers, etc. In fact, mixing and matching will create all kinds of lovely color schemes. You can even mix the plastic with heavy yarn. Heck, be creative!
Then, talk about waterproof! And lasting forever! You can wash and spin dry your rugs in the washing machine, but obviously, DO NOT put them in a dryer.
Who would have thunk! Since all that plastic is not biodegradable (in our landfills!), I'm glad someone thought of how to put it to good use. Hmmm. How to come up with a million-dollar idea!
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Astrologically, it marks the entry of the Sun into Cancer (good-bye, Gemini!), the sign of family and home. How appropriate! My Cancer woman arrives home tomorrow and the sun stands still today to greet her. I like that.
Speaking of family, next week we'll all pack our bags and head north to Michigan in two cars for the annual Hart Family Reunion: Donica, Amy, Nicholas, Mark and I. For a family as large as ours, it really is a grand gathering. More and more kids from the 3rd generation down are being born (one just this past week!), waiting to be met by the rest of us.
Today we take that one collective breath for Family and Home. While the sun stands still!
(*Also known as Litha, Feill-Sheathain, Jani, Alban Hefin, Juhannus, Midsommarafton, and Saint John's Eve. Anything else?)
Monday, June 20, 2005
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Mother Earth! She's one Hot Momma!
Oh, and happy Father's Day, Dad! While Hot Momma cradles your shell, she beams at your spirit, I'm sure, riding a bike into some corner of the Universe. Save your map 'cause I'll want to follow you there someday.
[This photo is for you, Donica, since you like my "redneck" outfit. And yes, I wore my hat but was too vain to put it on for this shot.]
Congratulations are in order BIG TIME for my two-years-older sister, Susan, and her lover-boy, Rodger, who live in the Chicago area. She called me this afternoon to say they have just gotten engaged to be married on October 15, 2005.
Yes, Virginia, there is a GOD!
Susan has been single for 23+ years. She has a lovely grown daughter and 3 gorgeous granddaughters. She has been a business woman all her life, sometimes holding down more than one job, to make ends meet. She's had her share of ups and downs but has remained hugely upbeat throughout her life. After years of being alone, she really had assumed she'd be single the rest of her life, and was okay with that.
Then Magic happened. The heavens opened their storehouse and showered her with this incredible man, worth every minute of waiting. We, the Sibs, met him in May at our Hart Family Cottage confab and totally approved!
Susan and Rodger, I lift my glass to you and say, "I love you!" God willing and the creek don't rise, nothing will keep us from your grand celebration.
Tears may flow in the night,
but joy comes in the morning. - Psalm 30:5.
Saturday, June 18, 2005
Oh my! Crash shows the power of racism through the eyes of all those involved, from the victims to the aggressors. From those you'd least expect it. I don't need to tell you about the movie, which you can read for yourself. But if I took anything from it, it's that even though I say I'm not prejudiced and don't want to be prejudiced, there would probably be a situation sometime, somewhere to betray me. I hate it.
As I drove home, Walela's God Save Us From Ourselves kept running through my head, so I've been playing it over and over again. You can listen to it by going to this site and scrolling down to their Unbearable Love album, then clicking on the "click to listen" after the song (second from the bottom--yes, I sent this once back in February, 2/7). The lyrics collide and crash around everything I saw tonight:
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Going backwards in time means starting with yesterday, the day after (do you follow?): Mom Jann and I met at the Spaghetti Factory for lunch and totally splurged on our entrees as well as extra garlic-cheese bread, their great side of broccoli, and ice-cream mud pie. Oh, and red wine, of course. Two redheads thoroughly enjoying each other. I really like Donica's mom! Thanks, Jann. (Can you believe I forgot the camera?!)
On the very day, the 13th: after I went to see Monster-In-Law, since I had just finished Jane Fonda's book (one of the best books I've ever read, seriously!), Mark and I drove down to Smith's Olde Bar (SOB--I love it) and met with Amy and her friends to see Westrin & Mowry perform as the first of three bands. Pete, my nephew, is the Mowry part, remember (March 12 post), and is just so sweet and darling and genuine and everything else you can imagine. He even remembered to give me a birthday card, which I'll keep forever. He and Brian (Westrin) sang Baby, You've Got It All in honor of my birthday. For that moment in time I really did have it all and felt like a Queen For a Day.
Eating beforehand with Mark and Amy with her friends--Justin and good friend Angie--was pure joy. Angie is just who Amy needs as a good friend. Thanks, Angie. Justin is one of those guys Amy can confide in. Thanks, Justin. Since I can't pick between the 2 photos, you'll just have to see them both!
The day before that (ok, tell me what day we're talking about now!), Amy had Mark and me over for one of her gourmet meals, cooking genius that she is. We always tell her we'll be her guinea pigs WHENEVER. And true to form, she outdid herself. Nicholas was in his goony element with Uncle Mark, rough-housing around. G'ma was snapping pictures right and left, of course. There's just something about family! Thanks, Amy, for your thought, time and energy; thanks, Mark, for all those movie passes.
That same day, but earlier, when he was with me for his sleepover, Nicholas had a quiet time of coloring with his new markers. "Are these Magic Markers, G'ma?" Well, I guess you could say so, since he made magic out of them. Because he is such a good colorer, I had bought him a set of 50 washable markers, "Way more than at school, G'ma!" He knows how to do birthdays. Thanks, Nicholas.
What/who was missing, terribly, was Donica (still in Germany), who had to be the proverbial fly on the wall during all these shenanigans. She hated not being here, but I reminded her a hundred times about Paris in April (7 and 9 posts) with Don and Ruth. She birthdayed me PAR EXCELLENCE bar none! And I did/do not forget! Thanks, Donica.
And to everyone else who remembered my birthday and sent me best wishes, THANK YOU! You can't get much happier than this birthday girl. Trust me.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Don't get me wrong. I really don't want to judge the man. The news hype has distorted who-knows-how-many facts of the case. In the end, if he is guilty (like O.J.? and not necessarily to compare the two cases!), he probably needs help, desperately. May he get it!
If he indeed is not guilty, only God knows if/how he will climb out of this mess. Though, to be sure, he certainly has his fan base! Will it be enough to redeem him?
Thank God this wasn't the same circus as for O.J. There was at least some sense in the courtroom, if you do compare these two celebrity trials. But as Mark said, "Only in America!"
Monday, June 13, 2005
June 13, 1945 - June 13, 2005: I made it!
When I walked into the house on Friday evening, coming back from Germany, a whole bunch of balloons yelled out to me, "SURPRISE!" And at the very top, these two biggies shouted the loudest: "Still Wild at 60!" and "60 and Still Wild!"
Amy did it! It wasn't my birthday yet...3 more days...but she wanted to do something special to surprise me, which she surely did, especially since Donica wouldn't be home with me.
Maybe the biggest surprise is that she chose these balloons out of all the cliches she could have picked! In fact, she told me the saleslady asked if she wanted black balloons to go with the colorful bunch and Amy said, "Oh no; my mom is happy to be turning 60!"
Happy and wild. I like that. Don't ever let me be otherwise! Life is just way too short for the alternative.
Sunday, June 12, 2005
"So that I can play with him," he said. (Duh!) "Is he an indoor wolf or an outdoor wolf," was my logical next question. "Outdoor," he said, and "I'll get a rope to wrap around him in the woods" so that he can't get away, of course.
Then I asked what he'd call his wolf. His immediate response was "Watches Movies," followed by his lament that too bad there's no plug in the woods. I told him that maybe we could find an extension cord long enough. He laughed.
The name he calls our indoor wolf (who doesn't watch movies) is Snowy. He's been friends with Snowy since he could walk by himself and go up and hug him. There's just something about wolves (or "wolfs," as he calls them). Tame indoors, wild outdoors (needing ropes). "Maybe he can live in my playhouse," he said.
I didn't tell him I'd be his wolf anytime, anywhere...tame inside, wild outside. But no ropes.
I could just eat him up! There was a long stretch of time when I'd tell him that every chance I could get. He'd spontaneously look up to whomever was around and say "There she goes again!"
Then, once Nicholas was born (five years ago!), I envisioned him putting her change in the bank, which he's done now for the past two years, sitting on the bed to reach it. That means Donica is back to putting her pocket change into the dish for the next time Nicholas comes over.
Now I'm getting to the point. Nicholas was here for a sleepover last night (the day after I returned from Germany--couldn't wait!) and because his birthday is coming up in July, we decided it was high time to count the change, wrap it up and put it in a bank account for him. The look on his face at "all that money" was worth every nickle, dime and quarter ("Pennies go in the jar," G'ma).
First of all, "we" figured out which coins were what and how many pennies each coin is worth, which, of course, "we" promptly forgot. At one point he started counting the entire pile and when he got to 24 said, "Wow, there's 24 money!"
Ah yes. The mind of an almost-5-year-old boy! The "24 money" ended up being $280 wrapped. A nice way to start a pocket-change account for the BLB (Big Little Boy). Thanks to Donica (who is still in Germany watching this from afar)!
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Last but definitely not least, here's Celle, a charming city of 230,000 just 35km NE of Hannover. Not one to waste a free Europass day (#11), I knew I'd have to travel by yesterday's expiration date or never. I had planned to go to Magdeburg, further east and much larger, but was convinced by a gentleman in Lübeck last weekend to visit Celle instead. Besides, Donica had been there in the past for work and totally agreed. I spent 6 sunny-rainy hours there.
In the same way Lübeck is known for its façade (Gothic brick architecture), Celle, founded in 1292, is known for its half-timbered (tudor) houses--500 of them--from the 16th and 18th centuries. The oldest is dated 1526, in a Gothic step-shaped frieze (in my house photos). You have no idea how hard it was to whittle my lot down to seeable size! I would have taken pictures of all 500 houses, of course, but knew better.
From the Town Church (below), founded in 1308 as St. Mary's, and Lutheran since 1525, I climbed the 234 steps to the tower for the roof-top city views. Ah, what a sight and definitely worth every step!
The prerequiste Town Hall was there, of course (below left), in a Renaissance façade from the 14th century. The castle (again, from the church tower) was originally built in 1292 and was then erected as a palace in Renaissance and Italian baroque style from 1378-1705. For those with inquiring minds!
Both coming in and going out of the Old Town from the train station, I walked through a wonderful little park that shouted out to me, one last time before bidding auf wiedersehen to Germany, to notice God. Remember from The Color Purple how it really pisses God off if you walk by the color purple and don't notice?!
When I walked to the tram from Hannover's Hauptbahnhof (train station) on my way home, my eyes actually welled up with tears. Tomorrow I make my way back to America, my home, but I realized I really have grown accustomed to Germany's face. She has become my second home and I'll miss her...till we meet again.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
You know the drill by now: every altstadt (old town) has its rathaus (town hall) and kirchen (churches). You just can't get past them to do other things until you see them, and that's all there is to it, even if I did save them to the last this time.
Lübeck's TOWN HALL, from 1230, is significant in that it has large holes through its façade (below left) to keep the wind from blowing it over! Because water surrounds the Old Town and it's near the Baltic Sea, it can get very windy! This is also the only town hall we've seen with such a grand outside staircase (from 1594).
There are 6 main churches whose spires outline the skies:
1. The DOM (Cathedral) is Lübeck's oldest church from 1173, tracing back to Henry the Lion (below left); the "triumph cross" inside is dated 1477.
2. MARIENKIRCHE (St. Mary's Church) is on the highest point of the island and is considered the "Grande Dame" among all the churches. It was started in 1250 and is the third largest church in Germany. It has its own astronomical clock inside (memories of Prague!), if you look at the photos.
3. JACOBIKIRCHE (St. James' Church) is the church of sailers and seafarers, built in 1227. Contrary to St. Mary's and St. Peter's, it survived the bomb attack of 1942 without any damage.
4. PETRIKIRCHE (St. Peter's Church) was built in the first half of the 14th century and did sustain damage from bombing during WWII. However, because it doesn't have a congregation, they've not been able to rebuild the interior--just white-washed walls and no furnishings--enough to break your heart! This was the church we could see from our hotel room.
5 and 6. There are 2 other churches worth visiting and for which I have photos, but on a much smaller scale. KATHARINENKIRCHE (St. Katharine's Church) is actually a monastery church of the Franciscan order and therefore has no tower/spire, according to their "rules." Lastly, AEGIDIENKIRCHE (St. Aegidien's Church) is the smallest of the churches and traditionally is the church of the craftsmen and treasurers.
So, there you have it! Lübeck, the Lovely, indeed! We're so glad we saw her.
Monday, June 06, 2005
Of all the cities to have one, distinct façade, it's Lübeck. The most important town in the Baltic basin by the end of the Middle Ages, it is now a magnet for fans of Gothic brick architecture. It's everywhere: in its churches, city gates, town hall, hospital and houses.
So in this post, which is not about the Town Hall or churches (next post!), check out some examples of façades. Like the steeples of churches, I am very drawn to the rooftops of even the most ordinary of houses/buildings. Some of them, as you can see by the guy wires that hold them up against the winds, truly are façades: "1 : the front of a building; also : any face of a building given special architectural treatment; 2 : a false, superficial, or artificial appearance or effect."
Also, just for the halibut, I've made a special album of some windows and doors that caught my eye throughout our Saturday walk around Old Town. They're their own kind of façade, like the one above right.
You can't talk about Lübeck, of course, without the River Trave that surrounds the Old Town, making an island of it. In one day, Saturday, we walked from side-to-side and end-to-end of Old Town, inside the river's banks. We were supposed to have 80% precipitation throughout the day, as you can tell by the lowering skies in many of my photos, but we were rain-free for all but 30 minutes of our actual walk. On Sunday we took a little river tour, in and out of sun and rain, to round out the river views.
What a wonderful little town. Lübeck, "the Lovely." Today it's on UNESCO's list as a World Heritage Site of Mankind. I like that. (And I haven't gotten to the Town Hall and Churches!)
When I saw the "puppet" on the right, not yet knowing any of the history, I thought it was the backside of a naked woman with her hat, suitcase, and rolled-down stockings. HA. What a way to travel, I thought! (Can't you just see it!) Well, once I turned the corner to look frontside, I discovered it wasn't a woman at all! Not even a man, if you want to be technical about it.
"Puppets" is the affectionate word used for the 8 Roman gods standing on the bridge as a protective entrance to the Old Town. This one just happens to be Mercury, the mythological messenger communicating information to one and all and ruling shipping, couriers, and all forms of transportation. He also happens to be my Gemini ruler! So I had quite the laugh.
I didn't find out till too late that if you touch his naked backside, your courageous grip is considered good luck for your time in Lübeck. Another laugh. That would have been fun but I was too busy taking pictures-- though the gods know I would have definitely stopped to touch my ruler's backside!
Incidentally, these figures were originally made of sandstone in the 18th century but started sustaining irreparable damage from exhaust fumes. They were replaced with figures reconstructed of artificial stone. The sandstone originals are in the St. Annen Museum, which we saw on Saturday. So you could say they started and ended our nice weekend and were the sandwich "meat" in-between. Definitely worth their weight in stone!