Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Is God in the Storm?

As we watch in horror the utter devastation of hurricane Katrina and the years of clean-up it will take to bring back some sense of normalcy, the question arises: Was God in the hurricane? If global warming is the cause of Katrina, one could say it is the result of environmental sin/neglect. In other words, we caused it, not God. Atlanta has received it's own micro-devastation, thanks to Katrina/God, but somehow we'll manage through much more quickly because Atlanta's just not as "sinful" as New Orleans, right?

Then I think about the psychological hurricanes even now wreaking havoc in the hearts and souls of family and friends who are experiencing a different kind of loss: a wife whose husband just walked away from their marriage; a single mom who repeatedly finds "true love" escaping her; a man who loses his job before he's ready to retire; a woman who can't get a proper diagnosis for an ailment that weakens her immune system.

Is God in those storms? Or what "sins" can we attribute them to and say it wasn't God at all!

While I believe in cause-effect and the part we play in the Dance of Life, I'm not so quick to say "why bad things happen to good people," or where God is in the mix. God is. The storm is. We are. And all we have is right now to have/adjust an attitude about it....or do something. Or just cry.

A Higher Tolerance for Pain

A recent study says redheads have a higher tolerance for pain. Interestingly, I have always said I have a high threshold for pain but didn't know it was my red hair. HA.

Which is to say that yesterday, Day 10 of painting (WHOLE WHEAT), has put me into the "strome hetch" of Amy's townhouse project. In one day I painted everything left of roller-painting and cutting-in (the stairway and upstairs hallway) except for what I need the extension ladder up at the two-story ceiling. That's left for Saturday when Donica will be with me for safety (and brawn).

I had calculated that what I did yesterday would take 2 shorter days but when I realized I could get it done in one longer day (8 hours of painting plus prep and clean-up), I opted for it. My bod paid for it short-term but after restful sleep, I feel as good as normal these painting days.

So, yes, at age 60 I feel I'm doing darn-tootin' well for this physical activity, even though I can hardly wait till it's all done! So rewarding to see the end result.

But I had no clue it was my RED HAIR getting me through it all! And LOVE. Don't forget love!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Gas Piggy Bank

When I saw this photo yesterday, I laughed and groaned out loud. It's not funny, of course, when you think of all the reasons why we're in this gas-gouging predicament. But what else can you do right now except laugh while you groan!

Adding insult to injury, "The region that produces and refines a major portion of the nation's oil and natural gas was largely shut down by Hurricane Katrina yesterday, further tightening strained energy markets and sending prices to new highs. As oil companies evacuated offshore operations throughout the Gulf of Mexico, oil production in that region was reduced by 92 percent and gas output was cut by 83 percent."

BTW, we don't need to really start crying till our gas prices equal Europe's. What we pay per gallon is what they pay per litre. Ouch!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Déjà Vu

Those THREE INCREDIBLE LADIES AND THEIR PURE SPUNK AND BRAWN were at it again today! Donica and I spent 9 1/2 hours helping Amy with more of her move, both at her new townhouse and her apartment.

I spent most of the day at the apartment, packing up the last of Nicholas' toys and cleaning baseboards, window sills and doors. Amy was cleaning the bathrooms and will finish up the kitchen tomorrow before the walk-through for her security deposit. Hey, every dollar counts when you move from here to there and I wanted to make sure she gets it all!

Once I got back to the house, where Donica had been working her magic--swapping out another doorknob, hanging a ceiling fan in Nicholas' room, adding shelves to his closet, wiring up the TV and video components, etc.--I tackled Nicholas' computer desk, to swap out the legs to the highest extensions (it was a great kit when we bought it, knowing it would need to grow with him). One of those fun tasks with the kind of tools I can handle (Donica's power tools scare me!).

In the meantime, Amy went to pick up Nicholas from his weekend at Dad's. When they got home, it was Nicholas' time to take the grand tour and be amazed at his new home. His bed also was raised up, so he sees himself as a Big Boy on so many levels. He approved of the new heights of desk and bed and at one point indicated he could hardly wait to go to sleep in his new house.

So it's been quite the journey this weekend! Lots of time and energy, spunk and brawn to get a job done. Most of all it's been lots of love for Amy and Nicholas as they start out in their new place. I can't imagine being a single mom going through a move like that. Thank God we are proximate and able enough to lighten the load!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Two Men and a Truck

Yes, exactly: Two Men and a Truck started out the moving day yesterday, 7:30a, at Amy's apartment and finished at her new townhouse around 1p. I had already arrived at the apartment at 6:30 to help Nicholas get dressed and take him to school, share all my excitement with him for this big experience, and then head over to the townhouse to vacuum, clear space for furniture and do basic clean-up.

Then a man and a refridgerator came for installation, followed later by a man and a microwave. Somewhere inbetween (with several trips, actually) was a man and a lady with blinds to install the 11 window treatments up and down. Once the movers arrived and it was clear Amy's queen boxsprings could NOT turn the corner going upstairs, three builders and a boxsprings skinned the cat a different way. The builders (still in the neighborhood, building more units) laughed because Amy's wasn't the first move for this issue: a flaw in the design! But Nicholas' window was more than up to the task at hand.

That leaves the THREE INCREDIBLE LADIES AND THEIR PURE SPUNK AND BRAWN! Donica had gone over to the apartment to help Amy load our truck while the movers were loading theirs. By the time the actual move was made--the 8 miles from there to here--the whole process was undone, with the many trips back-n-forth, up-n-down, moving the out to in.

Amy started putting many things away and organizing the different rooms. Donica was the handylady with the power tools, drilling holes, hanging things, changing out the front door lock, rewiring the plug for the dryer, buying stuff at Home Depot, helping put Nicholas' bed together, etc. And I made up the beds, did paint touch-up, cleaned some more and helped wherever needed.

It was one of those long, exhausting days that makes you drop into bed with a smile on your face. Donica said I was groaning off-n-on between my snores throughout the night. A sore muscle for every accomplishment!

We're so happy for Amy and Nicholas...as though it were our own move. It feels so good to be vested in their joy, if you know what I mean!

Next week I'll finish up the painting--the stairway and upstairs hallway, purposely left for after the move. But that's next week....

Friday, August 26, 2005

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Yesterday: Day 8 of painting, this time the downstairs powder room in BOLD BRICK. The actual painting was only 4 hours but there was lots of prep work and cleaning-up around the house.

Today: Day 9 in Amy's master bath (separate commode room). 6 1/2 hours of HOPSACK. What in Sam's scratch is hopsack, I asked Amy! No clue. The dictionary says it's "a rough-surfaced loosely woven clothing fabric." And when I googled it, it was not color-specific. So all you need to know is that it is darker than her LATTE bedroom. Think milk chocolate! Which definitely goes with LATTE...and the kitchen BAGUETTE. And come to think of it, why not WHOLE WHEAT as well! Heck, I'll even eat milk chocolate with BOLD BRICK and STORM CLOUD!

I love these Sherwin-Williams colors. So rich and tantalizing!

Tomorrow: The movers come! Even Donica is taking the day off to help. I'll take Nicholas to daycare at 7a (from where he then goes to Kindergarten!) and proceed over to the townhouse to get things ready for the furniture. Nicholas will be with his dad and step-mom over the weekend and will miss the big truck (too bad), but he'll sleep in his new home Sunday night! And I'll take plenty of photos to show him what happened.

God willing and the creek don't rise!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It's In the Details

I could have taken a "before" shot as well as this "after" shot to show the difference between CAMELBACK and BAGUETTE, but it didn't matter since both walls would have looked the same! The lighter color is WHOLE WHEAT, which will run throughout the rest of the house in the halls and up the stairway. The colors are lighter/darker depending on the lighting, which makes them so nice. They actually are a bit lighter in daylight than this photo but it was a clear distinction of difference in shades.

It took 4 1/2 hours to re-paint the kitchen today [Day 7]--an hour less than my first time. I think the earlier coat made this coat glide on more smoothly. You didn't hear me complain!

So, since my days now are made up of painting, what else did you expect from me!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Getting It Right

Today I will be re-painting Amy's kitchen. The CAMELBACK ended up looking almost exactly the same shade as the WHOLE WHEAT of the adjoining dining area and great room. So everyone agreed we needed to go darker: BAGUETTE. The contrast will be noticeable and therefore "right."

This reminds me of an article in the current issue of AARP The Magazine. Susan Roberts writes in her article, "The Age of Reason," that at midlife "we face an important crossroad. We can continue along pathways established for us by others, or we can really grow up, breaking free of the past, and become true individuals."

She quotes from James Hollis, "The first half of life is essentially a mistake," and from Jean Shinoda Bolen (both Jungian analysts), "From the time we were sent off to nursery school to the time we wanted to get into the right college or profession or be accepted by our partners, we had to cut off that which didn't fit the picture of success."

So Roberts talks about becoming more authentically alive in the second half of life by moving beyond nature and society, apart from our history, to "the process of becoming, through the experience of life's long arc, the person one was always meant to be." It's the aging process, for which there's no bluprint: this is when children depart, a spouse divorces us or dies, a career ends. It's when you realize you've done everything expected of you. Now what?

Let's just say that BAGUETTE is the color the kitchen was meant to be. (It definitely makes more sense with Whole Wheat than Camelback, don't you think!)

[Yesterday was Day 6 of painting: 6 hours of WHOLE WHEAT in the foyer and cutting-in at the ceiling for the great room and dining room. And Mark came to hang the ceiling fan in Amy's bedroom!]

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Yours, Mine and Ours

Work hard all week and then what? You play! And play we did, all weekend, with FAMILY!

Starting with Friday after painting, I drove the 6 miles from Amy's house to Nicholas' daycare to pick him up for a sleep-over. The usual: Mexican for supper, PacMan hand-eye coordination for quiet time before bed, Waffle House for breakfast, and driver's ed again before it got too hot. What's so cute about his driving is that he always picks out one of his friends to ride with him, seatbelt and all. He likes to share and pretend.

Then Donica left for the airport to pick up her niece, Silke, who flew in from San Antonio, TX, Saturday morning for a short visit, first with us and then Donica's mom. Donica just happened to be checking the round-trip rates last Wednesday and spontaneously jumped on a cheap fare. It all happened quickly. The next thing we knew, she was here! So when Amy came to pick up Nicholas Saturday afternoon, Silke was here to say HI to her and Nicholas before we all headed out the door again.

This time, Donica, Silke and I drove north to Knoxville, TN, to hear Westrin & Mowry at an evening gig there (driving down from Michigan State!). This was our surprise to Silke after finding out she was going to be here. She had already become quite the fan of W&M, thanks to Donica giving her their CD last Christmas. So now was her chance to actually meet them, up close and personal. Pete Mowry, remember, is my nephew, so this was big for us as well. Family meeting family, popping our buttons, hootin' and howlerin.' Silke didn't have to ask more than once to get this shot of her with Pete. In fact, she even got a nice note and autograph from him for when they make the Big Time. I love it!

It's 3 1/2 hours to Knoxville from our house, so coming home, while Donica slept, Silke and I talked up a storm, passing the time till we got back home at 2a. Just put us 2 talkers together any time and we'll cover the territory on just about anything. A short night, though, for sleep!

Today, Sunday, we headed to south Atlanta to Donica's mom's house for the afternoon (where Silke will now stay till she flies back on Tuesday), delighted by the spontaneous visit of her twin, 13-year-old brothers from Tennessee (with their step-mom and step-sister). It's easy to tell the boys apart now (Cole is on the left and Travis has the mohawk) but it used to be that they were so identical you could only tell them apart by Cole's tiny mole on the side of his face. "Cole mole." That was the trick for remembering. Both are still so lovey-dovey, well-behaved and mannered. I love them all!

Now we're exhausted! We really did play hard for us old farts before starting another work-hard week. We're supposed to be "working harder on relaxing" but we just couldn't pass up all these "fab" opportunities. It kinda felt like a family holiday weekend without the extra day off--very nice memories that wear you out!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A Good Feel-Good

This morning as I drove to Amy's for my Day 5 of painting (6 1/2 hours of WHOLE WHEAT in the great room and extended dining area--a shade lighter than the CAMELBACK kitchen), I saw something that really made me feel good.

It was 7a (dawn here in Atlanta) and quite foggy. As I was driving by a new, ritzy neighborhood, I had to stop behind a school bus picking up kids and saw 4 adult men standing nearby on the corner, waving goodbye. Not a woman was in sight. Wow. What a nice surprise.

Did I mention that all 4 men were African-American? With the stereotype of "absent fathers" in what we generally see as a matriarchal Black culture, it was a double feel-good as I started my day!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Tour de Lance

Most of us know by now that Lance Armstrong won his 7th and last Tour de France recently (7/25 post) and is now retired. Retired from tour cycling, that is, but definitely not retired! He and his Lance Armstrong Foundation are in tireless pursuit of a cure for cancer. Talk about a race! In fact, he hopes to be more of an activist for the cause, like Irish rock star and antipoverty activist Bono of U2.

Last Sunday, Armstrong said the United States, which is embroiled in a costly war in Iraq, should focus more effort on a war facing many Americans -- the one against cancer--which he says we're losing right now. Since 2001, the US government has spent $300 billion fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In contrast, the National Cancer Institute received $4.8 billion in fiscal 2005, and although it requested more for 2006, its funding is expected to be unchanged.

What's wrong with this picture?! What would happen if we spent $300 billion on cancer research. Maybe we'd win at least one of the wars????
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[Yesterday was Day 4 of painting: 5 1/2 hours of CAMELBACK (think caramel) in Amy's kitchen and one wall extending into her dining room. I've neglected to tell you that when I say "painting," I'm not counting prep/cleaning time, so add another 2+ hours every day!]

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Best Beer In the World!

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Monks at a Belgian abbey have been forced to stop selling their famous beer after it was voted the best in the world and was promptly sold out.

The abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in western Belgium is home to some 30 Cistercian and

Trappist monks who lead a life of seclusion, prayer, manual labor -- and beer-brewing.

A survey of thousands of beer enthusiasts from 65 countries on the RateBeer Web site (www.ratebeer.com) in June rated the Westvleteren 12 beer as the world's best.

But the abbey only has a limited brewing capacity, and was not able to cope with the beer's sudden popularity.

"Our shop is closed because all our beer has been sold out," said a message on the abbey's answering machine, which it calls the "beer phone."

And the abbey has no intention of boosting its capacity to satisfy market demand.

"We are not brewers, we are monks. We brew beer to be able to afford being monks," the father abbot said on the abbey's Web site.

Monk Mark Bode told De Morgen daily: "Outsiders don't understand why we are not raising production. But for us life in the abbey comes first, not the brewery."

[Emphasis mine] Talk about priorities! How hard was that!!

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[Yesterday was Day 3 of painting: 5 hours of LATTE for the 3rd bedroom upstairs, which will be Amy's office. Delicious!]

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Our Unforgivable Histories

On March 5, 1945 (3 months before I was born), Lena Baker became the first and only woman executed in Georgia's electric chair. Now, 60 years after she was put to death for killing a man she said had held her in slavery and threatened her life, she is being granted a posthumous pardon. The entire trial was a farce. The all-white male jury took only 30 minutes to convict her and sentence her to death.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles plans to make the pardon official by presenting a proclamation to Ms. Baker's descendants at a meeting on Aug. 30 in Atlanta. At that time, her name will be cleared for the surviving family. More...

If this kind of story doesn't break our hearts and stir us to righteous indignation, what ever will!

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[Yesterday was Day 2 of painting when I finished Amy's bedroom in 7 hours, the same amount of time as Nicholas' room. Since her room is considerably larger, one must assume that I'm now simply on a roll! Today I paint the 3rd and smallest of the bedrooms upstairs, LATTE (like Amy's room). What a great color!]

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Wax On, Wax Off

OK, so I'm not the Karate Kid, but all day as I painted, I felt like I was in that rhythm of painting up, painting down and breathing in, breathing out. I love to paint. Something therapeutic about it.

True to my promise, I painted Nicholas' room first (and only, thus far!). I had great expectations to get his AND Amy's bedroom done today but after 7 hours of painting just Nicholas' room, two coats of roller paint and then the cutting-in, I called it a day. Amy and Nicholas came over after work to see the end result and loved it.

As Amy said, in her cute self-congratulatory way, she sure knows how to pick the colors! Nicholas always wants blue of anything, so she picked out this gorgeous Storm Cloud blue. I kid you not, it's the exact same color as the Honda Accord I had 15 years ago and I called it "storm-cloud blue." I love storm clouds; I love storm-cloud blue. So I was in a special "zone" all day.

Tomorrow I start Amy's bedroom: Latte! Don't get me started on latte! If I was in a zone today, I'll be on my way to heaven tomorrow! (It doesn't take much to make me happy!)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

HOTlanta!

Man! How quickly we forget! When we walked out of Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Int'l Airport yesterday afternoon, the heat and humidity were like a wall that hit us. Smack dab in the face! After almost 3 weeks of temps in the 60's, it was definitely a wake-up call.

But you know what! This really is a HOT city in so many ways. Every time we drive through the downtown, night and/or day, the skyline thrills us. In fact, we saw the new Wachovia building yesterday for the first time, finished and raring to go, and realized this city is always on the go, new or ever-changing in one way or the other.

Since I'm always ranting and raving about Europe's incredible architecture, I think it's about time I applaud the dazzling buildings of our beautiful downtown. You don't get the full effect from this photo but, believe me, some of the architecture is out of this world...in a modern, almost sci-fi way. You go, HOTlanta! Welcome home.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Today and Tomorrow

TODAY Amy closes on her "new-brand" townhouse in Atlanta, like one in this photo! When she was pre-school age, she often inverted compound adjectives/nouns, like "brand new," "street cleaner" and "storm clouds." Soooo cute. But the one that has always stuck for me is "new-brand." It totally fits this lovely space that she and Nicholas will now call home.

TOMORROW Donica and I fly home to said Atlanta after a 3-week stint here in Hannover, Germany. A month later (September 12) we'll return, following the ebb-n-flow of Donica's global responsibilities and my sailing in on her shirt tails. I can't tell you how much I love this back-n-forth! Atlanta is our first home, of course, where our family is. But Hannover has quickly become my second home, where I feel a definite reincarnational at-homeness.

TOMORROW in Nicholas' sense of the word, when it's after tomorrow and not today, I will be painting the interior of Amy's new home before she moves in the last week of August. Every room! Her builder had only two choices of color, neither of which Amy wanted for her color scheme. So I will do the honors. It's my fun and expertise. In fact, because I get very territorial when it comes to painting, I told her I don't want her help. Besides, she'll have all the moving-in stuff that I can't really help her with.

So, congratulations, Amy! This has been a long time coming and we feel your excitement.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Lovemaking

So, changing the subject (from cancer, last post!), I am amazed at how life goes on! LIFE! The death-birth-death-birth cycle just IS. Death is. Life is. And depending on what the moment is, it's either or both. Sometimes at the same time.

After publishing my earlier post, I decided to see if friend Ted Roth had added any new photos to his website. I don't check every day; in fact, I hadn't checked in awhile. My loss because he had a "Butterfly's Breakfast" album from almost 2 weeks ago that has blown me away.

This is just amazing! We know that flowers self and cross-pollinate with the natural winds of time. But their pollen/seed is also propagated by the insects that make love to them. Have you ever seen such sensual (okay, sexual!) pictures as these?! Of butterflies and flowers, I mean. I told him that he has to get his photos out there, either as a set of note cards or prints or stock photos where other people can ooh-n-aah over his handiwork and where he can make some money for his efforts. He is retired, like I am, but doesn't think of his photos as a business in front of his very eyes! I can think of a thousand ways I would market his photos if they were mine. Oh my! (And yes, I try to encourage him to do so himself.)

In the course of writing this post, I just got another photo from Ted that's not in his album. He said, "You really should see me standing hip deep in the midst of densely packed milkweed and clover with everything around me undulating with bees, butterflies and other tinies. It is the closest I've come to being in heaven."

I, for one, can say it doesn't get much better than this. See why he inspires me!

The Stigma Disease

No, I'm not talking about an STD. I've just read that someone else famous has lung cancer! Dana Reeve, the recent widow of Superman's Christopher Reeve, just yesterday disclosed that she has the disease. She's only 44. And, like my dad, she's never been a smoker! (Peter Jennings--8/8 post--had been a heavy smoker.) "Ten to 15 percent of lung cancer victims are nonsmokers and women in that group are twice as likely to get the disease than men who don't smoke. Radon gas, passive smoking, genetics and pollution are some of the causes among nonsmokers." (I remember the hospice nurse telling us that Dad probably had a gene for the disease.)

What most alarms me is finding out that almost twice as many women die of lung cancer than breast cancer but the disease receives 10 times less funding per death than breast cancer in the U.S. WHY? "A lot of people will not come out of the woodwork because they feel like it's a self-inflicted disease and there is a stigma."

This morning I also read that two types of skin cancer have nearly tripled among women under age 40, a sign that sun tanning is still popular despite warnings about the harm it can cause. Also, the annual rate of occurrence of new melanomas in children in the U. S. is increasing rapidly, according to a new report. But that's another story.

Not to sound alarmist but, in the end, it makes you wonder if the majority of us in the U.S. will die of some sort of cancer!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Maschseefest

Saturday was the free organ concert and Sunday was the free musical Maschsee Lake Festival behind the Rathaus (= Town Hall). It started the Wednesday just after we arrived and will be gone just after we leave, so it was important to us to go. The problem is that it's been rainy and quite cool lately (62°F). The cool part is okay but mixed with rain can be tricky. For the Hannoverians, however, they just go prepared!

The first thing we did when we arrived around 1:30p was eat lunch. I told Donica I wanted a picture of me eating my pile of spare ribs because I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Just perfect, the way I like them--lean and dry, with no sauce! Donica's heaven (she doesn't like spare ribs and ate a bratwurst) was being able to read off-n-on all afternoon, in sun or shade, while I was nearby taking photos.

All the while, in the background, was a jazz band (Trio Coppo - Lantin's Groove) with a lead flautist who, at one point, started weaving his way throughout the crowd without missing a beat. I was snapping away on my camera and had no clue he would eventually end up, literally, right in front of my face! What you see is exactly what I got! Up close and personal. How fun.

And then there was a puppet show which, because it was in German (of course), was more fun for taking pictures of the kids watching. I wished I understood what they heard because they sure were interactive with the puppeteer.

If you look at my album, you'll see that I have a thing for bikes! It's just that they come in all sizes for the youngest to the oldest. And everybody rides them! It's one of the things I just love about Hannover/Europe. The bike paths are actually on the sidewalks, so you have to pay attention to where you walk. Hmmm. Maybe one of these trips I'll buy a used clunker for me.

Around 6p we headed back to the apartment after a full afternoon in the outdoor air, never once having to crack our umbrellas, though it did rain while we ate and were on the tourist boat. I asked Donica if this had been a restful weekend for her, in spite of going off and doing something each day. YES YES YES. How could it not be. Even doing things, we couldn't get much lazier! Just what the doctor ordered for her, I do believe.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Please Say It's Not So!

He's gone. Yesterday Peter Jennings, the sole anchor of "World News Tonight" since 1983, died of lung cancer at age 67. (He was actually chosen in 1965, at age 26, to anchor "The ABC Evening News" but 2 years later he told his bosses he needed more seasoning and returned to field reporting.) He won numerous awards, among them a National Headliner Award, the George Foster Peabody award, and 16 Emmys. Guess you could say he was made for the news! He was a native Canadian who became a U.S. citizen in 2003; and it didn't hurt that he was always immaculately dressed and coiffed.

When we were at home, we always watched Peter's evening news. We liked him, the man.

Lung cancer is the No. 1 cancer killer of men and women in the world and is difficult to detect early or to treat. Peter was a smoker 20 years ago. My dad died of lung cancer at age 78; he was not a smoker. Regardless, 67 (and 78!) is way too young (especially now that I'm 60). I hate it!

Was his one of the blithe spirits I saw on Saturday at the Marktkirche (last post)? Maybe!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Orgelkonzert in der Marktkirche

Now that we're looking for local events and entertainment on our weekends here in Hannover, instead of "flying the coop," a whole new world here in our backyard is opening up. During the week we scope things out to see what's available. Last evening, for instance, we headed to City Center to hear a free ORGAN CONCERT in the MARKET CHURCH. This appears to happen every Saturday at 18 uhr (6p) for an hour. Frau Fahrtmann says Marktkirche is known for its accoustics, which is probably why they offer these concerts, and for frei (= free) is just added frosting on the cake!

It was a cool, rainy day--perfect for an organ concert--and our organist was Sergej Tcherepanov, a Moscovite who now lives in Lübeck (see 6/6 post). He played on both church organs, one of which is a German harpsichord with a 16' register (left photo) like those from the 16th - 18th centuries (don't know the age of this one), on which he played his first 4 pieces, all from the 16th century: Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (Dutch), Claudio Merulo (Italian), Johann Ulrich Steigleder (German) and an English Anonymous. Made sense to play 16th century pieces on the 16th century harpsichord! Then he climbed the stairs to the loft of the grand organ and finished the concert with 3 pieces from Felix Mendelssohn (German, 19th c), Jehan Alain (French, 20th c), and Maurice Duruflé (French, 20th c). Let's just say we got a wonderful education!

Before the concert started, we had a chance to walk around the church's nave to look at an exhibition of artwork by a female who (according to the lady who translated for me in her own words) supposedly is depicting the transitoriness of life. It's here today and gone tomorrow. I suspect it's much more than that because this particular grouping (below) was in close proximity to the altar and, for me, portrays worship. In the album I see them all as sinewy "blithe spirits" whose souls came before and after all time. As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder...and art can be interpreted in so many ways, regardless of what the artist intended!

After the concert we walked to a nearby Italian restaurant for a quiet dinner. This was our "Saturday night at Pumpkin Creek," a variation on the theme!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Marcus, The Chimney Sweep

This past Wednesday, Frau Fahrtmann (above left) told me that on Freitag, today, the chimney sweep was coming to do the annual cleaning of our building's chimney and that he'd be able to access it only through our kitchen window. At 8 a.m.! He had wanted to come at 7a but she said, "NO NO NO. That's too early for the American!"

She was right. Donica leaves for work around 7a just as I'm getting up. So 8 it was, on the dot. Frau F brought in Marcus and after our Guten Morgens, I got out my camera and asked if I could take pictures. Frau immediately started laughing because she had already told Marcus that "the American" will want to take pictures. HA. He even told me I could take pictures of him up on the roof, but to be careful. As I started following him out the kitchen window, Frau said I could get a good view from the living room window (which tilts open, à la the last post).

Indeed! She and I were both getting a kick outta it. Actually, so was he. After about 15 minutes, when he got down, he asked if I had internet (do I have internet!?!) because he wanted me to send the photos to his mother. Awwww. Don't you just love it!

I told Frau that this reminded me of Mary Poppins and she agreed (she's about 5 years older and remembers the movie!). "On the rooftops of [Hannover], coo, what a sight!"

Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey
Chim chim cher-ee!
A sweep is as lucky, as lucky can be
Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey
Chim chim cher-oo!
Good luck will rub off when I shakes 'ands with you
Or blow me a kiss and that's lucky too

European Windows. Duh!

This really is a post about windows here in our Hannover apartment. But there's a context, trust me.

What I'm starting with, however, is my newly-found exercise regimen that works for me. Wanting to put all our 65 apartment steps to good use, they've become my StairMaster equipment each morning. Actually, since 5 of the steps are hallway entrance steps, it's only 60 steps in 6 flights of 10, up and down 6 times in a row. Maybe I should up it to 10 times, who knows, but 6 works up an aerobic heartbeat that satisfies me, without my shaky legs wigging out on me.

This is where the WINDOWS #1 comes in: At each landing (of which there are 3 before you get to our 4th-floor attic...4th floor for Americans, 3rd floor for Europeans, remember! see 4/1 post ), there is a window or windows with accompanying plants and maybe a couple knick-knacks. A Frau Fahrtmann thing! Very bright and cheery, which is exactly why the StairMaster works for me. You can't see it but that hallway window above has 2 different ways of opening, depending on what way you turn the lever. It can stay stationary at the bottom and tilt open inwards from the top (if you click on it to enlarge it, you should see it opened slightly). If you turn the lever the other way, the window will open inwards from the side, more like what we're used to.

Now, WINDOWS #2: Inside our apartment, all our windows (set in at a slant because of the attic walls) open differently altogether! You would never think of 2 smart, grown women having no clue but neither of us could figure out how to open them. When we thought we had figured it out (last Spring), Frau Fahrtmann rushed frantically to tell us we had them open in the fire-escape mode, strictly verboten unless there's, of course, a fire! She then proceeded to give us Windows Opening 101. There's a nice little vent at the top of every window which is a nice appetizer for window opening. We already figured that out. But what we didn't know was that when you pull down on the top vent, with force, the window will pivot open as far as you wish. VOILA! You can even open it just slightly without fear of rain.

Donica told the can't-open-the-windows story to her colleagues at work and got quite the chuckle. The thing is, if you don't know, you don't know. But once you find out, it's one big DUH! And how very clever! Now we love them!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Lions and Tigers and...?

Frau Fahrtmann, our landlady, told us way back in March that we definitely needed to visit the Hannover Zoo. She said it is considered one of the best in Europe. Considering I lived in San Diego for 7 years and visited their zoo untold times, any other zoo had a lot to live up to, as far as I was concerned. Nonetheless, yesterday was my day to visit Hannover's zoo. To say it lived up to whatever wild expectations Frau wanted me to have is putting it a bit mildly.

But that's cheating a bit. No one can beat San Diego's canyons and ravines for the geographical setting of a zoo. Nor would I guess that Hannover could best them on the actual inhabitants enclosed. BUT Hannover is something quite unlike a zoo. Or maybe I should say MORE than a zoo. I've tried to put my finger on it and think it may be all the interactive stuff, like the cause-effect of a waterway system for a budding engineer, for instance.

And the whimsy all over the park. Why wouldn't a plane on expedition have to crash! Or a jeep have a flat tire and be stranded. Surely any safari would have it's campsite. A barnyard would have its tractor to climb on. The sheep would have hay wagons to rest under. And kids would have places to try out rope bridges and pretend-elephants to climb. And LOTS of playground equipment for all their energy!

Me? I was totally exhausted after 5 hours on my feet. I had a list of shows to go see but didn't get to one of them. In fact, I didn't realize till I got home that I totally missed the sea-lion and penguin section...and THE BEARS! How did that happen! So, yes, you'll see lions and tigers and NO BEARS in my album. (Oh my!) And all the prerequisite blokes, of course. It was fun to get some close-ups, practicing on my camera. Guess you had to be there!

AND! I did see two wolves (does the San Diego Zoo have wolves???) and made my priority of the day to see them fed at 1:30p. The black alpha male was okay but the white beta female, Akira, (who wouldn't get anywhere close to the male while he ate, waiting patiently for him to be gorged before she came near enough to be fed) totally stole my heart. Maybe that's what exhausted me because on that note I left for home. Haunted by the call of the wild!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Little Prince

Amy just sent us this photo of Nicholas from this past weekend in Charlotte, NC. He was a ring bearer in a wedding on his daddy's side of the family. Spiked hair and all.

You know me. If I had been there, you'd have an entire album of photos to look at. Maybe less is more right now.

More like the Little Charmer! One photo says it all.

Flowers Can Talk

Mama Mia! Of course they can! I hadn't thought about it like that but when I saw those words on someone's T-shirt at the Kleines Fest on Saturday (last post), I said, "But of course! They even look at us through our windows to watch what we're doing!"

So, here are some of my flower photos from since March: Austria (Salzburg), Czech Republic (Prague), France (Paris), Germany (Hannover x4 , Celle, and Lübeck), Scotland (Dunvegan), and USA (Michigan). The question is, since they can talk, which ones are from where? Can you pick them out from their accent? (Ha. Don't even know if I can without looking at the note below.*)

And then, what are they saying? We know they talk to each other and fall in love, blowing kisses and making love whenever the winds blow (it's a breeze!). But what are they telling us when they talk? "HELLO! I'm thirsty. Please feed me. Thanks for the 'haircut.' Don't you just love the sun AND the rain! Where have you been? I've missed you! Good night." And so on and so forth....

12

34

56

78

910

Flowers can talk, indeed. Sounds like something Nicholas would say.

[*Top photo: Lübeck. 1) Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg. 2) Luxembourg Gardens, Paris. 3) Prague. 4) Herrenhäuser Rain Forest, Hannover. 5) Dunvegan Castle. 6) Hart Family Cottage, Michigan. 7) Park in Celle. 8) Florist shop, Hannover. 9) Private residence, Hannover. 10) Herrenhäuser Botanical Gardens, Hannover.]