Monday, January 30, 2006

On Being BEFOULED

This plaque was adhered to the windowsill of our hotel in Goslar: "Before leaving your room, please place the window in a tipped position as otherwise the pidgeons befoul the room."



Never mind that it was too cold to tip any window open or that there were no pidgeons to be seen our entire weekend!

Today, by the time Donica came home for dinner, I felt like my spirit had been "befouled" by my own damn perfectionism! I had been working on my blasted Goslar photos for a week and had a goal and expectation to not only finish them today but to get my photo album (of approximately 150 photos) published. I wanted to publish my last Goslar post today!

But when I started the album, I saw photo after photo that disappointed me. "I can do better than that!" I grumbled. And all I could think of was, "Oh no! Back to the drawing board!" And just about then Donica came home and all I wanted to do was cry.

The thing is, maybe I CAN'T do better than that...at least not right now. I see all the photos (yes, on your blogs) that seem so perfect to me and I want mine to look like that. Maybe they will some day but, hey, if they don't now, it doesn't help one whit to "befoul" myself with over-expectation. Besides, who could care less, right?!

I'm sure there's not a one of you out there who can relate! So have a good laugh on me for taking photos of plaques that come back to haunt me!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Love Thy Neighbor (Encore)

After posting yesterday about the neighborly love between Annie the horse and Tigger the cat, commentor Moose was reminded of the similar hippo and tortoise story that surfaced after the tsunami of December, 2004. When I mentioned that I might need to add that story, Merlin Princess commented that she didn't know anything about it, so please do.

Well then! It may be even more touching than the horse-cat story! Basically, a baby hippo (nicknamed Owen) was floundering in the surf off the Kenyan coast, separated from its adult herd and near death. On December 27, 2004, just after the tsunami, he was placed in an animal facility in the port city of Mombasa.

As soon as he was placed in his enclosure, the orphaned youngster immediately ran to the giant tortoise also housed in that space. The tortoise, named Mzee (Swahili for "old man") and estimated to be between 100 and 130 years old, was not immediately taken with the brash newcomer -- he turned and hissed, forcing the hippo to back away. Yet Owen persisted in following the tortoise around the park (and even into a pool), and within days the pair had forged a friendship, eating and sleeping together. Owen has even been seen to lick the tortoise, whom he regards as his new mother. (Wildlife workers speculated that Owen may have been attracted to Mzee as a parental figure because the tortoise's shape and color are similar to those of an adult hippopotamus.)













A year later, Owen and Mzee are still together. Supposedly sometime this year conservation workers are planning to introduce Owen to Cleo, a 13-year-old female hippo who has gone without companionship from her own species for over 10 years. Cool if that happens but I sure hope they include the tortoise in the introduction and make it a three-some!

So, if Dad were here and preaching a sermon today on these two unlikely pairs becoming "neighborly," what would he say! I'm guessing he'd remind us that in spite of all our differences and disagreements and "natural" dislike for anything we don't understand, MAN ALIVE! IF THEY CAN DO IT, WHY CAN'T WE!

[2/2/06: Apologies for not attributing above photos to Peter Greste. This is one of those stories that went around the internet many times via e-mail, so I checked urban legends to confirm the veracity, but neglected to check further into photo authorship. Mea culpa!]

Saturday, January 28, 2006

She Did It!

Finally! After winning 20 Singles, 2 Quarter Finals, and 4 Semi Finals since going pro in 1999, Amélie Mauresmo won her first Grand Slam title ever, today at the Australian Open.



Since we're really into world-championship tennis, both men's and women's, this was a big deal to us because a Grand Slam has eluded Mauresmo for, well, forever! Until now.

You go, Girl! Here's to many more to come!

Love Thy Neighbor

A little intermission between Goslar posts and on the heels of the Market Church pulpit yesterday, I guess, and thinking of Dad's sermons: He'd like this one!



This is what the text says:

Tigger the cat loves to horse around with his big pal Annie--and play nuzzle the muzzle. Their unusual relationship is the talk of the barnyard at the Victoria, Australia, home of contractor Jack Bellman.

"Tigger is a nasty old cat, who will bite and hiss and scratch, but he just melts around Annie," says Jack. The paddock pals bonded immediately. The 3-year-old feisty feline loves to jump on the rail fence for a tête-á-tête with 2-year-old Annie.

"They have formed an incredible attachment," says their owner. Tigger even sleeps in Annie's food bin. Concludes an amazed Jack, "They are real buddies."

Friday, January 27, 2006

GOSLAR, Germany: The Imperial Palace

Once the mines of Rammelsberg were opened up for their ore deposits in 968, it didn't take long for Goslar's small hamlet to become the largest city outside the former Roman Empire. By 1009, the imperial palace was built and soon became known as the Rome of the North. Even Pope Victor II once traveled there to see his worldly counterpart, Heinrich III, in 1056.



Because of its location in the heart of Europe, Goslar and the Harz Mountains became the center of the the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation for 300 years. Supported by the silver from the mines, it evolved as the "secret capital" or Rome of the North.



The equestrian statues in front of the palace (below) date from around 1900. And as you see, the Market Church (last post) is but a stone's throw away. Even if I had wanted to go inside the palace to see the 67 murals of the great hall, I couldn't have, for the palace is closed till April. Another reason to go back in the Spring.



Directly in front of the palace , across the street, was the Goslar cathedral for the emperors. It was torn down in 1819 because of its crumbling and now only this porch (below) survives, shaded by chestnut trees when in leaf.



I have no clue who is depicted on the front of this porch but I'm guessing it's saints and emperors alike. Probably a good guess.



Hitler made Goslar the headquarters of the Nazi agricultural organization in 1936 and thereby saved it from being damaged in World War II. It then became a safe place for many refugees from other towns.

So can anything good come out of Hitler Goslar? Yes, indeed!

GOSLAR, Germany: The Market Church

The three things I love most about these old German towns is: 1) Architecture, 2) Architecture, and 3) Architecture! As a matter of fact, since most of our excursions are over weekends, when we really have at most only 1-1/2 days of sight-seeing, we usually choose to be outside looking at the "mood" of the town. We rarely go inside the museums or buildings of antiquity (not saying that won't change, mind you!) UNLESS it's a church!

Just steps away from our Goslar hotel on the Square is the prerequisite Market Church. We were on the heels of a German tour guide ("Ich verstehe nur ein bischen!" I would have said) and were thereby able to get inside for a few minutes (before the very kind gentleman locked the door after we left). My photo album at the end will have several photos of the church (to which I always gravitate), inside and out, but these are the ones I've picked for this wee glimpse.



I decided a long time ago that it's the spires that do something to me. Soulful! I'm guessing they are always meant to lead our gaze upward and onward, away from the earthly stuff that bogs us down. In Atlanta/America they do the same thing but somehow it's different in Europe. They're just more spectacular here. More history behind them, muddled or not. More ethereal. Just more!


This particular market church (Ev. Lutheran, as would be expected here in Germany) is what many Europeans would call "simple," I'm sure. Nothing like the cathedrals of Paris or Berlin or Praque. But simple is still spectacular to me. Having grown up in a small-town baptist church in Michigan, this kind of chancel would have dumbfounded me. Maybe not the Roman Catholics or the Episcopalians! I didn't even know the word "chancel," or "nave." So for me, this is spectacular (my word for the day)!


My dad was the preacher of that small-town Michigan church, btw. I wonder if he would have felt comfortable preaching from this pulpit (below)? And would I have paid attention to anything he ever said if my mind's eye was getting carried away with all that ornate artwork?



Actually, since my dad was also an artist in his own right (seriously), I wonder if HE could have paid attention! I can somehow see him leaning over and studying the carvings and wanting to run his fingers over the wood. He was also a carpenter (appropriately). He would be thinking about the wood-working tools and the paint colors. How distracting for a preacher unless he worked it all into a sermon somehow. That's one of the things he knew how to do--to take the mundane stuff and make some kind of spiritual lesson out of it.


Suddenly, I miss my dad! I MISS YOU, DAD! I love you. You were a good Preacher and I really did learn many a good thing from you, in and out of the pulpit. I wonder if the Great God of the Universe gave you some spectacular pulpit on some distant Star. Or if you thanked God very much and said you'd really just like to carve for awhile!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

GOSLAR, Germany: The Ducat Man

As a side note to my last post on Goslar's Market Square, where our Kaiserworth Hotel sat, let me introduce you to the Ducat Man (das Dukatenmännchen) who sits on the eastern side corner of the hotel.






To give you perspective, he sits under the statue of someone who, I think, is supposed to represent Lady Justice. (If anyone can help me out here, please do.) She definitely is not one of the 8 emperors adorning the front of the hotel. I at least know that much. But as fate would have it, she's looked at more often than all the emperors combined, thanks to said Ducat Man.

The Ducat Man is supposedly a humerous personification of a coin-minting workshop for those who could not pay their debt. Apparently the neighboring governors were jealous of Goslar's coin revenue from its Rammelsberg mines and wanted Goslar to relinguish it. This Ducat Man was Goslar's response.

If you can't take a joke! (Click on the photos to get the full effect :)



The eight imperial rulers on the front of the hotel (which used to be the merchants' guild) governed the city from 919 to 1138 and were responsible for showering blessings on the town. After that followed the feuds, during which our funny Ducat Man was added. Below are two of the emperors up close and personal, standing sentry just feet away from our hotel window. What a nice sense of security!


GOSLAR, Germany: The Market Square

Okay, then! Strap on your seatbelts 'cuz we're going to 1000-year-old Goslar! This will come in categories, of course, true to my form, and then will have a photo album of the whole shootin' kaboodle at the end. But for now, these are just static impressions of a delightful little town in the Harz Mountains some 45 mi/72km southeast of Hannover. Goslar: Germany's first free Imperial town, an early member of the Hanseatic League, founded in 922 by Emperor Heinrich I, and now a UNESCO world heritage city of approximately 50,000 people.



The market square of any European town we visit is where we immediately head on our trips. This time especially so since our above hotel was the 512 year-old Kaiserworth on the south side of the Square, which used to be the guild hall of the merchants when it was built in 1494! Our room was the far right window on the second floor ("first" floor in Germany!), in line with the statues of the emperors, all looking out on the spectacular view of the center fountain or focal point of the Square (below).




It was rainy or overcast all day Saturday when we did most of our galavanting, and it was so freezing-cold on Sunday I almost got frostbit every time I took my glove off to take a picture. But I didn't care. (Overcast photos are better than no photos at all, as far as I'm concerned. And maybe we'll just have to go back when the sun is shining!) The incredible craftsmanship of the radiating coblestones for picture-perfect Perspective still absolutely awes me. And this is exactly where they hold their Christmas Market in December.



Atop the Romanesque fountain is a copy of the imperial eagle (above). The original sits in the Town Hall in safe-keeping from the pranksters who damaged its wings and legs. But the two bronze basins with their dragons and lion heads are the original ones that have endured for centuries.



Speaking of the obligatory Rathaus (Town Hall), it's on the west side of the Square, left of the fountain from our hotel window (above), built in the middle of the 15th century.



Continuing clockwise from the Town Hall is this magnificent half-timbered building on the north side of the Square, with enough sun to say Hello just as we were checking out. (Go figure!) To the right of that is the photo (2nd from the top) of the fountain in the northeast corner of the square, followed by this Baroque building (below) that houses the carillon/glockenspiel donated by the owner and operator of the Rammelsberg metallic ore mines.



Four times a day, at 9a, noon, 3p and 6p, a procession of miners (below) tells the history of mining in Goslar. At other times during the day only the bronze bells are clanged, cast from the metal ore mined there. Because of those rich ore deposits, Goslar was one of the seats of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation from the 10th to the 12th century.



And that's a thumbnail start! There's more to come: the palace, half-timbered houses, the Market Church, etc. I eat this stuff up and have decided it's the architecture that is soulful for me, more so than the history. But, of course, how can you separate the history from the architecture!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Incongruity

: the quality or state of being incongruous = : lacking congruity: as a : not harmonious : INCOMPATIBLE <incongruous colors> b : not conforming : DISAGREEING <incongruous with principle> c : inconsistent within itself <an incongruous story> d : lacking propriety : UNSUITABLE <incongruous manners>.

Across our street here in Hannover, this exact same set of swimsuits has hung outside the shop window every business day since last summer. Including today at 28 °F / -2 °C with light snow falling! At the Sonderpreis (special price) of €79 each ($97) , no wonder they still sit there. I would never pay $100 for a swimsuit in the summertime, let alone wintertime! (I know, never say never, but it's pretty safe to say in this case!)



Now walk a little further down the street and turn the corner to find this bin sitting outside the shop window. Stark reduziert (greatly reduced) caps and scarves and gloves. Now that's more like it!


I'll let you decide what kind of incongruous this is but I found these two sidewalk offerings quite interesting enough, obviously, to make a post about them!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Red Green Moose Means STOP

While I work on my pictures from our Goslar weekend, I just have to tell you another Nicholas (grandson) story!

Three years ago when he was first learning to talk in sentences, and while being ferried back-n-forth to daycare, he'd be sitting in the car with Amy, observing every little thing. At traffic lights he started to say, "Red means STOP; green means GO; and yellow means SLOW DOWN." He'd say it every time. (Amy obviously taught him well!)



This past Saturday in Goslar, while we were walking around in the rain, we stopped at a shoe store with this traffic light in the window. The light would switch back-n-forth between the amber man and the green moose. (No red anything.)

So I chuckled about the connection and took this photo for all my Canadian and northeast U.S. friends (we saw moose* in New Hampshire a couple years ago).

I'm guessing this is one time when Green means STOP! No red light needed. When the amber man is flashing, it means "SLOW DOWN; this is a Moose Crossing area and they have the Green light, not you!"

[* English! Why is the plural for goose "geese" and the plural for moose not "meese??"]

Monday, January 23, 2006

Happy Birthday to IN SOUL


It is so hard to believe but it's true: In Soul, my blog, turns one today. And if you were all here, I'd throw a party for her!

She's me, of course (which is why I call her HER). She's the epitome of me being born, opening my eyes, learning to crawl and starting to walk. And finding a Pack to belong to!

Donica had come home from work one day a year ago and said she heard something on the radio that she thought might interest me: Blogging. In fact, she made her own test site first to show me. So I guess you could say Donica birthed it for me. Little did she know I would really like it and take off with it!

I remember, for instance, when I knew only basic things, like how to eat and drink. I knew absolutely no HTML. Couldn't align text left or right of an image. Was able to follow only the simplest of tasks. I had to keep reminding myself, for God's sake, that I had just been born!

Around nine months old, I serendipitously found Prairie Girl (PG) on my Stat Counter (which nephew Nate had just introduced to me) and was coaxed by her to crawl into a new world of blogging. As it takes a village to raise a child, it took a blogging group to introduce me to a vast and incredible world out there, beyond the scope of my own crib/backyard. You know who you are because you've found your way into my sidebar heart. PG has become my In Soul godmother, teaching me photographic and HTML tricks for better learning how to walk and talk. Almost any template change you ever see is because of her. (Thank you, PG!)

The Wolf spirit of In Soul remains the symbol of my growth, my intent and misson, as when I first took breath. The Wolf, as Teacher and Guide to the Sacred, gives me a growing sense of Self and the desire to communicate well, finding "new solutions to problems while providing stability and support that one normally associates with a family structure." I had been without a family for so long (when I first came out in 1990, after 21 years of marriage). But the lone Wolf I had become eventually howled its way back to the Pack. She was my salvation!

Full circle. As in the beginning, so now. I am In Soul; In Soul is Me.

Please raise your glass with me to this next year of Soulful living! Of being all I/we can be. Happy Birthday to Me!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Work First, Play Later?


Friday after work, Donica and I hoped onto a train to Goslar, 70 minutes southeast of Hannover, for a nice R&R weekend in the Harz Mountains. More on that later this week!

On the train going, Friday, Donica had to finish a project that was due to her Atlanta boss at 10p that night (4p Atlanta time). It had to be done! She had been in business meetings in Amsterdam all week and in Hannover on Friday and simply couldn't get the project done till on the train.

So I, of course, was left to my camera and wandering thoughts. Where I wandered to was this: some of us have a pattern of getting work done first so as to have (the sense of) more time to play later; others of us play first and then work hard and fast under pressure. No right or wrong either way. Maybe a personality thing?

When I was in school (yea those many years ago), I would often get my homework done before supper and then have the rest of the evening free to do whatever. In my everyday (retired) life now, I tend to do my chores first and then "reward" myself with fun/soulful things the rest of the day. Donica, on the other hand, tends to "play" first, saving her "projects" for the last minute, and then works well or better under the time-pressure.

This kinda reminds me of "Eat dessert first!" Hmm. If everyone could pull it off, there's definitely something to be said for playing first and working later, I guess. Or how about a compromise: I'll work first, play later, and make up for it by eating dessert first when it's time for dinner! That'll work!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bloggers Unite! *

Not just in Cyberspace but in the REAL real world! Two of us bloggers who live in the Hannover area rendezvoused yesterday morning at this lovely coffee shop near the Hauptbahnhof (train station) in City Center.


It just didn't make a lot of sense to read about someone's life day after day, living just minutes away, and not attempt an up-close and personal interaction. So I invited and Christina came!

Christina, author of the Mausi blog, is every bit as charming and delightful as I expected her to be, if not more so. (And I'm just saying that 'cuz it's true :) With her full permission, here she is as my camera saw her.

Yakkity-yak. Yakkity-yak. Just picture 2 Gemini women going at it 100 mph, no awkward moments of wondering what to talk about next, learning as much as we could about each other, our families, and our life in general. And all in our framework of 2-1/2 hours before she had to go back home to meet her boys after school.

I knew it would be Soulful, but you need to go to her post to see how soulful it was...for both of us! (Thanks, Christina. You just beat me to the punch! It's hard for me to believe for a minute that you are shy!) And if you by chance saw her January 16th post on Refrigerators (of all things), you'll know why I have dubbed her the Mother Hub of our blogging group. After 40 comments, who can ever beat her! But we both agreed that Prairie Girl needs to have the IT/Support Help Desk honor, as well as Photography Mentor, HTML Guru, and Sociology Director (she is, after all, the one who connected so many of us). I see them both as the glue that holds most of us together.

So here we are, blogger-friends united in one serendipitous, eternalized moment in Time.



So who will it be next and where! Donica and I visited Vancouver once (where Christina is from originally and where Expat Traveler now lives) and Quebec City (where MerlinPrincesse, her sister Clo, and Mei Shile live). Who knows, maybe we'll visit there again. Or some of your other places in this shrinking world. But whether in real life or blogging life, which actually feels just as real, here's to us uniting as one grand community!

Should someone come up with a name for us!?!

[* I wrote my "Blogger's Unite!" title before I saw Christina's "bloggers unplugged." I swear to God!]

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Going Out of My Head

Every work day, whether at home in Atlanta or here in Hannover, my daughter Amy and I have an IM chat when she first gets to work (early, before everyone else). In Atlanta it's 7:30a; in Hannover it's 1:30p. We both live for it.

Yesterday she told me this cute, cute story about Nicholas. As she was driving him to daycare (before he goes to his Kindergarten class), he noticed the moon, pointed at it and started a conversation with her about it. At one point he said, "Mom, you've got to stop talking because you're making me go out of my head!"

Laugh, she thought she'd die. What happened was this: he was talking along and said something she didn't quite hear so she stopped him to ask what he had just said. He said, "You heard me but you were talking." And then he couldn't remember what he had said because her talking made him forget.

Thus, "Mom, you've got to stop talking because you're making me go out of my head!"

So when I get Alzheimer's and start forgetting, I'll have to remember that I'm only going out of my head!

I MISS MY GRANDSON!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Going, Going, Gone

This hubcap has been sitting out on our street here in Hannover for almost a week now. It first was on the sidewalk by the curb and later was moved by someone to this basement well on the other side of the walk. There it sits, day after day. If this were America, it would have been gone within the hour! You snooze, you lose. Your trash, my treasure. Someone would have wanted it for something.

The problem is, what car does it go to? It looks like the word on the cap is Tytan. You try doing a search for it and see what you come up with! Is it the name of a car or what? And if a car, who makes it? Don't ask me why but I wonder if it's from the Czech Republic? Surely it's not from this snazzy car! (Click on See Image Alone or scroll down to the yellow beauty.) Someone please help me out here!

Anyway, if you want it and it's still there when I go back, it's yours! (But for a price!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

That's a Bunch of Bull!

Red Bull, that is.

This advertizing contraption sat on our street yesterday a few buildings down from our apartment. Needless to say, it caught my eye (on the cute little Mini Cooper)!



So, what is it! We always see it at gas stops in the States when we drive from Atlanta to Michigan. It's a soft-drink from Austria, usually in the energy-drink section, supposedly drunk to combat mental and physical fatigue. It's advertising slogan is Red Bull Gives You Wings, focusing on the stimulant properties of the drink. In its 250 ml serving, 80 mg is caffeine, a bit less than an 8-oz. cup of coffee.

The problem is it's popularity as used with alcohol and some health-risk scares from deaths linked to it. It's prohibited in Denmark, Norway and France. In Canada it carries a warning label that says "Cautions: Contains caffeine. Not recommended for children, pregnant or breast-feeding women, caffeine sensitive persons or to be mixed with alcohol. Do not consume more than 500 ml per day." Those who drink 2-5 250ml cans in a 24-hour period complain of nausea, stomach pains, gas, and/or sleeplessness.

But guess what! Despite the doctors and nutritionists who warn about mixing caffeine and alcohol in excessive quantities, "people who appreciate alcoholic beverages feel strongly that the benefits of mixing Red Bull with alcohol far outweigh the risks and take stimulants such as caffeine in order to avoid getting drowsy while drunk." Duh!

I guess that means this much Red Bull (in the above car's can) would either kill you dead as a doornail in one minute flat or keep you awake/stimulated the rest of your life!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Icy Cold but Sunny!

From everything I'm reading, it's gray and cloudy here and there and everywhere. Everywhere, that is, where we assume it's Winter, like in the States, Canada and Europe. So when the sun shines, we really make a big deal about it, don't we!

Today I took a walk and looked up--high up--and saw this delightful sight:



Then I looked down and saw ice and frost everywhere. And this was at close to high noon!




Lots and lots of sun today but not the kind that defrosts you. The kind that makes you smile to be alive. The kind that cheers you up and makes you remember that Spring does indeed follow Winter. The kind that makes you want to share it generously with everyone who needs and wants it, even if only figuratively!

SEE! W I N T E R comes, to rule the varied Year,
Sullen, and sad; with all his rising Train,
Vapours, and Clouds, and Storms: Be these my Theme,
These, that exalt the Soul to solemn Thought,
And heavenly musing. Welcome kindred Glooms!
Wish'd, wint'ry, Horrors, hail!---With frequent Foot,
Pleas'd, have I, in my cheerful Morn of Life,
When, nurs'd by careless Solitude, I liv'd,
And sung of Nature with unceasing Joy,
Pleas'd, have I wander'd thro' your rough Domains;
Trod the pure, virgin, Snows, my self as pure:
Heard the Winds roar, and the big Torrent burst:
Or seen the deep, fermenting, Tempest brew'd,
In the red, evening, Sky.— Thus pass'd the Time,
Till, thro' the opening, Chambers of the South,
Look'd out the joyous Spring, look'd out, and smil'd.
[from Winter: A Poem, by James Thomson, 1726]


So, what else do you expect from Winter!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Bush and Merkel



After posts in the past months over Angela Merkel's rise to Chancellorship of Germany, I would be remiss in not mentioning her meeting with President Bush in Washington, D.C., this past Friday the 13th.

I don't make any bones about the fact that I do not see eye-to-eye on much of what Bush stands for. Nor am I proud of how the USA stands in the world's eye on his watch, especially as we get the European viewpoint while overseas. But I do attempt to see and hear what are signs of hope whenever they come along.

Merkel may be one such sign! It's no secret that relations were strained between Bush and former Chancellor Gerhardt Schröder. Bush and Merkel are closer in ideology but still have their differences, especially on the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists at the U.S.-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which Merkel has said she would like to see closed.

They both agree on Iran regarding nuclear arms, Israel's right to exist and not describing the Holocaust as a myth. However, Merkel is quicker to ask for sanctions while Bush is still holding back.

There may not be many policy changes in U.S.-German relations going forward, in part because cooperation between the countries is already good in many areas. The improvement may be more in mood and tone, based on Friday's meeting. Here's the text of their conversation with the press, with the following quote:

President Bush: We've got something in common, we both didn't exactly landslide our way into office. (Laughter.)

I'm convinced that we will have a really important and good relationship.

First, I do want to send my best regards to Gerhard Schröeder. We spent a lot of time together, and we talked about issues. Listen, there was room for agreement and room for disagreement. And I do hope he's doing well.

Our job now is to work together. We've got big interests. Germany is a really important country. It's right in the heart of Europe; it's vital that Germany take the lead on a lot of issues. And I look forward to working with the Chancellor on common objectives. And my first impressions, with 45 minutes alone in the Oval Office, were incredibly positive. She's smart -- (laughter) -- she's plenty capable. She's got kind of a spirit to her that is appealing. She loves freedom.

I was particularly touched by hearing about her early life in communist Germany. There's something uplifting to talk to somebody who knows the difference between just talking about tyranny and living in freedom and actually done it.

So we're going to have a very good relationship. And that's important for our respective people. I'm looking forward to consultations, visits, contacts, phone calls, all the things you do. And now I'm going to take her to lunch. (Laughter.)

If Angela Merkel can be a Voice for the European Union to help steer Bush in the right direction, more power to her. No one country can stand or act unilaterally any more in the World as it's evolving today. We need all the help we can get and hopefully Merkel will contribute to Bush seeing/accepting that!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

When You See Shadows...

(...fill in the blank...)

When I see shadows (these Hannover days)...it means THE SUN IS SHINING!

Not all day long, mind you, but every day this week in Germany the sun has shone at least a little bit. That's saying something for January! Or for winter!

The other day I took my walk over to the horse pasture to find my Horse Whisperer, but she was nowhere to be found. "Yoo Hoo," I whispered, but either she didn't hear me or was too cozy in the barn.

So I diverted my attention to the shadows. Sometimes they are the most comforting sight of the day...these gray, winter days.




Oh, and don't forget the Full Moon tonight. Father Sun and Mother Moon. What a nice pair they make!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Paraskavedekatriaphobia

The fear of Friday the 13th!

How's that for starting off the first 13th of 2006! If a month begins on a Sunday, it will have a Friday the 13th. Guess what! The YEAR began on a Sunday! So does that mean this is gonna be a humdinger of a superstitious year?

And right around the corner from our apartment here in Hannover is house #13. What happens to IT, I wonder, on Friday the 13th? Double the trouble?




As far as I'm concerned, how can you possibly be supertitious when your birthday is June 13th! And when the birthdays that were on my Friday the 13th were stupendous! On one Friday-the-13th birthday I remember picking up my report card from school and getting all A's. On my 24th birthday (yes, Friday the 13th), when I lived in the foothills of the Andes in Peru, I walked 1-1/2 hours to go pick up 24 pieces of mail, 3 of which were from my future husband. And both times I felt lucky. Kinda hard to feel superstitious.

Wikipedia says "there is evidence to suggest that Friday the 13th is actually unlucky for some.... some people are especially likely to have accidents or fall ill.... attributed to such people feeling a heightened state of anxiety on that day. The Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina estimates that in the United States alone, $800 or $900 million is lost in business each Friday the 13th because some people will not travel or go to work."

Our only other Friday the 13th this year will be in October (aren't we lucky!). But did you know that the 13th is more likely to be a Friday than any other day of the week?

Over any given 400-year cycle the 13th day of the month occurs 4800 times. The distribution of 13th day of the month is as follows:

  • Monday ( 685 or 14.27% ),
  • Tuesday ( 685 or 14.27% ),
  • Wednesday ( 687 or 14.31% ),
  • Thursday ( 684 or 14.25% ),
  • Friday ( 688 or 14.34% ),
  • Saturday ( 684 or 14.25% ),
  • Sunday ( 687 or 14.31% ).

This means the 13th day of the month is slightly more likely to occur on a Friday.

I don't know about you, but today I FEEL LUCKY! And I hope you do too :)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Wouldn't You Wooden Shoes



I spent most of yesterday working on photos from our Michigan vacation after Christmas, wanting to get an album out to the family (before next Christmas!).

When I came across this one, I said, "Aha! That'll be a nice story for my blog."

Of the 8 Sibs (remember, I'm #3), there are 3 who live in Holland, MI, on the west side of the state on Lake Michigan (east side of the lake--are you confused?). As you've guessed, it's named Holland because it's a Dutch community. In fact, the in-laws of one brother are Dutch. Nate, of Spera In Deo, my nephew and a pastor, is one of their 4 children and takes great pride in being part-Dutch.

So one day during vacation, Donica and I drove to Holland from the cottage, 1.25 hours away. Another brother's son and his partner (Dave and David!) from Sydney, Australia, were home for the holidays and were celebrating their 4th anniversary together. Donica and I were honored to share the occasion at a nearby restaurant.

Which is where these wooden shoes come in! (And you thought I'd never get there!) Someone sure was clever to think of using them as crayon holders for the kids. (Of course, the waitresses thought I was crazy taking pictures of them, but who of us care, right?)

Wooden shoe Wouldn't you just love to come up with something creative like that! Or if you already have, please tell!