Friday, March 31, 2006

Taming of the Wolf




Sometimes grandson Nicholas (5-1/2) just totally cracks me up! When he was with us for an overnight last weekend, he found our Mardi Gras beads hanging on the usual coat closet doorknob and wore them for awhile (as he often does). A couple days after he left, I noticed them on Wolf, who sits in our front-door hallway at the bottom of the stairs.



Wolf knows she's tame enough to live in the house and sports the handkerchief bandana as a reminder. But Mardi Gras beads? HA. She's never had it so good. She actually loves Nicholas as much as he loves her and knows she's one lucky wolf!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bubbles: Aquarium Balls



Submitted to Tuesdays Photos for "Balls"

Want BALLS? There are plenty of them at our Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, which opened last November. These hang from the 3-story ceiling in the waiting area for the 4-D Theater. What you don't know, until you go inside, is that you're gonna have lots of bubbles to pop. So this must be the appetizer!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In Memoriam #2


BARBARA NELSON BENNETT HART
June 26, 1916 - March 29, 1997


Photo by Bachrach in 1926 at age 10.

Three of my family members died within a two-year period of time. In month/day chronology, Bennett, my brother, was first, as I've already shared. Dad died the year before Bennett; a year after Bennett it was my mom. That was 9 years ago, 30 minutes before Easter Sunday. Since then I follow when Easter is and how many days/weeks it can be apart from year to year. In other words, Easter Sunday, resurrection day, would be tomorrow if it were 1997 when Mom was released from her Alzheimer's.

Notice Mom's name above: Nelson was her middle name and her mother's maiden name. Bennett was her maiden name. Two of my brothers were named after her: Nelson was the oldest of the 8 kids and Bennett was the 5th child, the second of 4 boys. Yes, Mom had 8 kids, 4 boys and 4 girls! She was an only child but said she wanted 12 kids. She did if you count the wards of the state who lived with us while we were growing up. We often joked that we would have made a good Roman Catholic family instead of the Baptist preacher's family we were.

Mom happened to be one of those women far ahead of her time. She graduated from high school at age 16 and entered Smith College in Northampton, MA, graduating with a degree in History. She then went to Columbia Teacher's College (Columbia University) in New York and got her MA in Music Ed in the late 30's. That was almost unheard of back then. (I don't have an MA!) Besides being quite the academician (we kids called her our "walking encyclopedia)", she was also an athlete, excelling in tennis and diving.


What I most remember about Mom is her music and her teaching. She had been a concert pianist and a teacher before she married a preacher (my dad!). All her musical training was then funneled into the church where she was the choir director, pianist and sometimes organist throughout my growing-up years. She also wrote hymns, spiritual songs and musical cantatas, many of which were published by Singspiration (formerly of Zondervan). My fondest memory is being awakened for school by her piano playing. What a nice alarm clock!

Mom was also a teacher, period! Dad was the preacher; Mom was the teacher. And either of them could do both (ha), even though at that time it was unheard of for a white Baptist woman to preach. She didn't preach from the pulpit but as far as I'm concerned, she preached. A woman before her time. But she was definitely utilized as a Bible teacher in every church Dad pastored. She also was a substitute teacher at my high school, where I actually sat under her (talk about weird). I really was proud of her.

Another fond memory of her was coming home from school and seeing her in the middle of a solitaire Scrabble game, trying to beat a score of 1000. That was always her personal goal, which she often met. She also worked crossword puzzles and read several books at a time (ha, it makes me sick thinking about it!). And then she'd get on a binge and make a diary (with inspirational quotes and Bible verses to match), all 365 days, for each of the 8 kids and their spouses. Or she'd knit fisherman sweaters for each of us...just to say she did it! Though she wasn't a Gemini, she was close enough (the 26th) to have a lot of those "wanting to try everything" desires.

Just before Dad died in 1995, we found out Mom had Alzheimer's (a type 3 diabetes?). As soon as we kids took things into our own hands, to relieve Dad, he soon after died of cancer (but that's his story for April's memoriam). One of my sisters took care of Mom for a few months before we put her into an Alzheimer's facility in the Lansing area where she passed away quietly in her sleep a year later, 30 minutes before Easter Sunday. Dad and Bennett were already preparing a place for her, we're convinced, and just beckoned her to come join them. Before she went to bed that night, one of my nephews had visited her on his birthday and said he didn't understand what all the fuss was about G'ma. She was perky, got up off her chair, put her hands emphatically on her hips (like pre-Alzheimer's days) and said, "I'm going to bed!" Two weeks earlier I had visited her and she couldn't even walk, let alone get out of her chair by herself. Nor did she speak more than 10 words the entire 5 hours I was with her.

They say we know when it's time to go. Dad had been buried the day before Easter two years before and even though Mom had Alzheimer's even then, perhaps subconsciously she knew. It was time. Interestingly, when we looked at her during her wake, we all commented that her Alzheimer's "look" was totally gone. IT WAS!



The shell of Mom lies at rest beside Dad in Grand Ledge, MI. On the back of their tombstone is a reference to Mom's widely-published hymn, "A Christian Home," in many a hymnbook. She had been commissioned to write words for a hymn that could be sung on Mother's Day. It still is sung in many churches today and stands as a tribute to her life and heritage. Above all, she wanted to serve God to the best of her ability with what she knew at that time. And she did!

Today I can't begin to imagine what she's accomplishing out there in the Universe but I can guarantee that Dad and Bennett are trying to keep up with her. And I'm guessing God gives her all the leeway she needs!

My "BAD Bad Bad Bad" Good Update


Remember 3 weeks ago when I told you my BAD cholesterol was really bad! I had new blood work done yesterday and my report today has got me shouting from the rooftops:

My overall cholesterol THEN was 268; NOW it's 153.
My BAD cholesterol THEN was 180; NOW it's 63.

So clearly the med is doing it's job. I found out my doctor, who's basically my size and as health aware, also has the same issue: a genetic disposition to high cholesterol. So she understands and was quick on the solution.

That was Then, this is Now. Yaaaaaaaay!

Monday, March 27, 2006

We All Have a Job



On Saturday afternoon, after Nicholas' T-Ball game and lunch, we had a nice outside project where all of us--Donica, Nicholas, my son Mark (30) and I--worked out in the yard on a gorgeous sunny day. But chilly! In the high 40's.

That's g'ma underneath the stop-cancer hat. My job was to cut the 116 clumps of monkey grass. If I had cut them in February before our last trip to Hannover, I could have mowed over them with the lawn mower. But because of extra warm weather while we were gone, the new shoots were too long for mowing. Actually, I love the therapeutic tediousness of cutting them by hand. Up close and personal. At one point I watched a little garden snake weave its way around the leaves, which I would have totally missed otherwise.



Nicholas' job was to scoop up the leaves behind me, put them in the popcorn buckets, and dump them in the woods. He has his own pair of garden gloves and does a good job of helping me whenever I tackle the yard. In fact, at one point he said with exclamation, "We all have a job!" Awww. I knew immediately that therein lay a post!



Mark's job was to mow the yard. All 30 minutes of it! Though we're on 3 acres in the woods, there is a large enough part in the front of the house, divided by a rock path, that is a lawn we try to pamper, whether we're home or not. The grass was definitely ready to be cut, even though it barely felt like spring. We'll be glad he did it because this week it's supposed to be back into the high 60's-low 70's. I'm quite sure we'll have to cut it again before Easter.


Donica's job was to rake up the grass clippings after Mark. She actually also raked up and swept after Nicholas and g'ma. And see, she even has a bit of a smile on her face :)

It really was a nice group effort. After Mark, Donica and Nicholas went into the house, I stayed outside because mine was the longer-term project. After 3 hours, I was chilled to the bone and had to finish the other side of the drive yesterday. But it's done and now the new monkey grass can breath freely and do its thing.

Just do it! Even the monkey grass has its own job and will do it well, just like the rest of us!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

You Have to Start Somewhere!


In the midst of March Madness-Badness-Sadness, how about some T-ball! Today was Nicholas' very first day to start the baseball side of sports (at age 5-1/2). And yes, he's a Yankee! In the fall, he'll go back to soccer.



He was one very serious boy this morning, taking it all in and not missing a beat. Because Donica was in sports almost all her life, she has really encouraged Amy to have Nicholas try the different team sports to see if there's one or two he'll end up gravitating to, if any at all. The least of it right now is that he's learning team-playing and good sportsmanship. The kinds of things that are valuable for Life!



G'ma is prejudiced, of course, but isn't he the cutest thing! We get to pop our buttons as mommas and g'mas--the way it's supposed to be. You just wanna eat them up!



This was a good diversion, midst all the hectic pace of the Sweet Sixteen becoming the Elite Eight this week, soon to be the Final Four in college basketball. Who knows. Maybe someday Nicholas will try basketball and football...or even track or swimming .

It brings a smile to my face to think that these men and/or women we're watching each evening once started out like little Nicholas with parents and g'parents wondering what would become of them! They, too, had to start somewhere!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Carrying the Swiss


I can tell you right now that CanadianSwiss and Expat Traveler are really gonna like this one. Pop their buttons all over the place, and rightly so.



Donica bought this SwissGear backpack (by Wenger, maker of the Genuine Swiss Army Knife) for me before our last trip to Hannover. She didn't like how the other pack fit on my back and wanted me to have more padding. I wasn't complaining but when I broke this new one in both coming and going, I realized what a huge difference it made. It was still heavy (because of the laptop) but it was definitely more comfortable. More shock-absorbing!






Product recognition is a bankable asset that plays a key role in business development. The company logo and where it is strategically placed costs mega dollars, we all know. But when you find a company that is willing to put its logo every "whipstitch" it can on a product, you can be darn-tootin' sure it believes in itself! Its quality has stood the test of time.

When Donica carried my pack in Hildesheim a couple weeks ago, she liked it so much she ordered one for herself exactly like it. That's product satisfaction! She'll just have to come up with a different tag to identify it.

I sure bet the Swiss Army Knife people would love THIS story!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

March Madness




This photo is for my sister, Ruth, and her hubby who are connected to Michigan State University (MSU) in more ways than one. Suffice it to say that while they made it to the 64-team start of March Madness, they lost to George Mason and are now out of it.

However, I did cheer her up by saying her nemesis (that would be ME from the University of Michigan/UM) never even made it to the top 64! And last year we were in a hotel lobby in Paris in the early hours of the morning, all 4 of us, listening to the MSU game in the Final Four on my laptop . They have been a team to be reckoned with!

BUT, I HAD MY DAY! (Notice how we think of our college teams as "ours!") When I was at UM in the 60's, Cazzie Russell was there and made UM the team to be reckoned with. "Before Russell came to Ann Arbor from Chicago's Carver High, the Wolverines had made one appearance in the NCAA tournament. In Russell's three seasons, they made three." And "Three straight seasons -- 1963-64 through 1965-66 -- Russell and the Wolverines won the Big Ten title, a feat never matched in school history."

We love basketball in our household and are eating it up these days, especially women's (since UM and MSU are not being reckoned with). Want some trivia? Donica played a guard in women's basketball in high school in Indianapolis back in the 70's and held the record for most assists in a game (11) until only 2 or 3 years ago. And I thought I was proud of MICHIGAN!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Spring Flowers' Showers



Submitted to Tuesdays Photos for "Spring"

Growing up in Michigan we always said, "April showers bring May flowers." Here in Atlanta, with a warmer climate, it all starts a good month earlier. Maybe that's true all over with global warming these days?

Anyway, on yesterday's first day of Spring, I had the lovely occasion to accompany a dear friend of mine to our downtown Atlanta courthouse while she took care of some business. Since she had to take off work and I had just come back from Germany, it was a good chance to spend some quality time together.

Coincidentally, there in the courthouse entrance was this wonderful "Ring of Water" sculpture by Seattle-based Ann Gardner, paying tribute to the most basic element, water, and how the presence of water suggests a cooling-down effect. I didn't have a chance to get the full photo showing the "drops of water" on the terrazzo floor, following the pattern of the raindrops above. But if you scroll down to the bottom of Ann's link, you can get the full picture.

Later in the afternoon I picked Nicholas up from school and babysat him while Amy was out and about for the evening. Suddenly, the heavens opened up and we had torrents of rain for the next several hours. As I tucked Nicholas under the covers at 8p, we both made our cozy sounds of thanksgiving for the showers. He knows I love the sound of rain.

Which comes first, the flowers or the showers?! Yesterday, the first day of Spring, while flowers were already in bloom, we had showers. That's all I know.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Heart & Soul of a Thing


The trip TO Europe from Atlanta-home is during the night so I try to sleep, glad if I can get 2-4 hours (out of the 8+). By the time we land, it's already mid-morning the next day. The trip FROM Europe to home, as in this past Friday, is always the stay-awake trip when I can catch up on my reading. I love it. I got through the entire current issue of Spirituality & Health and 3/4 through Mental Floss. That's a good trip for me.

The S&H issue this time was almost entirely about opening up our heart and getting out of our head (obviously written with ME in mind!). The heart can actually act like the head/mind because 60% of heart cells are neural cells, functioning similarly to those in the brain, says Stephen Buhner. But "What people perceive when they live from the heart is quite different from what they perceive when they live from the head." There is a state of "heart coherence" during which the heart's rhythm sets the beat for the entire body, giving greater depth and power--conveying meaning without language.

So, the exercise that helps us get there is to focus on an object's sensory aspects to get out of your head. Then ask questions of the object like "What does this feel like?" Watch as your breathing slows and your body relaxes for heart-centered perception. Then feel yourself caring for it as its energy starts flowing to you. This is what Geroge Washington Carver did to deepen his understanding of food plants like the peanut. "Anything will give up its secrets," he said, "if you love it enough."

Willing to try anything once, I decided to try this on the apple I had brought with me from Hannover to eat in Paris while waiting for my plane to D.C. YES, I went through all the above steps and really centered in on its qualities: the colors, shape, bumps, top, bottom. As I bit into it and saw the juiciness bubble to the surface of every bite, I thanked it for being so delightfully delicious.

Then suddenly I remembered something from the recesses of my heart's mind: there's a star in there at the very soul of the apple. See if you can find it.

There it was! Tenderly, carefully, soulfully, I uncovered her core. And then in total amazement, I snapped away on my camera (not caring if anyone thought I was crazy!). There it was--my heart captured the fresh and just-opened star of the apple.



I then tucked it away in safe-keeping till I got home and took yet another photo of it dried up but still talking to me. It was as though she was so proud of me for finding her. I actually think she was saluting me and telling me "Well done, Miss Ginnie, for seeing me with your heart!"



They say that every atom in the human body was once inside a star. Apparently all the elements for everything are made in the centers of stars.

Does it follow, I wonder, that there just might be a star in the middle of everything made from the center of stars? There certainly was inside of me when I moved from my head to my heart. There certainly was inside of this apple!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Check Your Passport


Today my passport is out for my return trip back to Atlanta, via Paris and then Washington, DC, for an overnight, before I arrive in Atlanta tomorrow morning. One of those frequent-flier circuitous routes again. Donica left for Amsterdam yesterday and will fly directly home tomorrow, arriving in the afternoon. Not quite crossing ships in the night but close!

Anyhow, the passport got me thinking. Did you know that if ever you go to Berlin and do the touristy thing of visiting Checkpoint Charlie, one of the three crossing points between East and West Germany during the Cold War, you can actually get your passport stamped with 4 stamps--2 from the Allied side and 2 from the DDR/Soviet side! I did exactly that when we were there almost a year ago. I think it was maybe 5 Euros for the 4 stamps and certainly seemed worth however gimmicky it might have been.





Ironically (and I just now noticed it), on the left side, where the 2 Allied stamps are, I also have an Atlanta stamp from being admitted back into the US last November. On the right side, with the 2 DDR/Soviet stamps, I have a stamp from Paris when I arrived this Hannover trip on March 6th. Paris was an Ally during the Cold War, of course, but the connection is Europe.

Just one of those bits of trivia on a passport day! You can "Checkpoint Charlie" your passport if you happen to be in Berlin. And if you have your passport with you (Donica didn't)!

Oh, and speaking of trivia, HAPPY ST. PADDY'S DAY!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

HILDESHEIM, Germany


True to form, almost a week later, my photo album is ready to tell you about our one-day jaunt to Hildesheim this past Saturday. When we went to Goslar in January for a weekend get-away, Donica and I noticed that we passed Hildesheim within half an hour after we got on the train. We had heard it was a quaint little town to see, so we bookmarked it as a one-day trip.

It has everything we'd want in a quaint town, with the old market square, half-timbered buildings and the churches. AND IT SNOWED THE ENTIRE TIME (that was for DreamWalker in New Zealand who has never seen snow fall!).

First, the MARKET SQUARE. What it's most known for is this Butchers' Guild Hall from 1529, once considered to be "the most precious half-timbered house in the world." That is, until it went up in flames in 1945, the year I was born! (No, you really can't blame it on me!) It was reconstructed (8 years' worth) to its original state, held together by 7500 wooden pegs!



Then, of course, always the prerequisite Rathaus (Town Hall), from 1268. This is where we ate a wonderful lunch in the Ratskeller, below ground level. That's also where I took yesterday's "Glass" window photo as my appetizer for this post (and my submission to Tuesdays Photos :).

The Butchers' Guild Hall and Rathaus face each other across the square, east and west. On this particular Saturday, in the snow, there was a farmer's market on the square. I'm guessing it's there every Saturday, rain or shine. People always need to "buy and sell" their produce!

On the south side of the square are 2 more wonderful buildings: the Tempelhaus on the left with its Renaissance bay window from 1591, and the Wedekindhaus on the right from 1598. I love these buildings!


Now, the CHURCHES! The two we did NOT go in were St. Andrew's and St. Michael's.


St. Andrew's Gothic church, from 1389, boasts the highest church tower in lower Saxony, measuring 114.35 m. You can climb the 364 steps up to the 75 m. mark for a breath-taking view (if it's not snowing!). It also has one of the largest church organs in northern Germany. But as I said, we didn't step foot inside. Another time, perhaps.




St. Michael's church, from 1010, was under construction until September, which kept us from seeing its famous painted wooden ceiling from the 12th century, portraying Christ's lineage. It was originally an early Roman fortress with its mathematical architecture and has been on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list since 1985. Bishop Bernward, who built the church, lies buried in the crypt.

The church we DID go into, however, was Hildesheim's Dom, St. Mary's Cathedral, from 872, with renovations and additions in the 11th, 12th and 14th centuries. Oh my! Talk about architecture! And its courtyard with graves and cloisters! It, too, is part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.


How do you describe a church having a tower that looks like this! And that's just one part of it (you'll have to go to the album for the basilica entrance).

The cathedral's nave looking towards the choir (above).


A chandelier in St. Anthony's Chapel, from 1038, showing the New Jerusalem, bearing witness to the splendor of God's reign after the Last Judgment.


Looking out from the cloisters to the courtyard (above).


The wintered branches of the 1000 year-old rose bush against St. Anne's Chapel from 1440. After the 1945 bombing during WW II, it sent out new shoots from its rootstock in a few weeks' time.

As you know by now, I never know where to start and finish these posts on the places we visit here in Germany (or elsewhere). I never feel I can give them justice. But at least you get a taste of what we saw...with our very own eyes...in the middle of a snowstorm! It doesn't get much better than this, as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hildesheim Glass




Since this week's Tuesdays Photos is a "Glass" theme, I thought I'd give you an appetizer of what I've been working on since Saturday's little jaunt to Hildesheim, Germany--a stone's throw by train from Hannover. It's coming, I promise.

This particular photo is of one of the Rathaus (Town Hall) cellar windows. At first I was gonna PhotoShop off the black smudge on the left side and decided to leave it there to show it's proximity to the stairs. Guess you can't have one without the other! Kinda like Life!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

CeBIT


This morning Donica and I hopped on the tram and headed to CeBIT, the world's largest information technology fair held here every year in our very own Hannover backyard!



Donica took the day off work in order to hook up with the document-management company that has been used by her pharmaceutical company since 1995. She's the one responsible for upgrades and so spent an hour talking with these guys about what needs to happen next. I tagged along for the ride.



After that, we were footloose and fancy-free to take the rest of the technology by storm. Every little thing from whatever big/little company you could ever hope to put your hands on was at our fingertips. Total gadgetry interaction! While Donica interacted, I took photos.





And yes, I just HAD to get in another Smart car, since it's been on our minds of late, right! Instead of Samsung, I think it should have advertised Mary Kay, but then it wouldn't have fit into the information technology theme. Technically speaking, of course!



Oh yes. Part of my job was to collect the loot! One would think I could have raked in much more than this, for how huge the entire complex was (27 buildings). But I had to beg, borrow and steal for even this! Nothing like what I was used to with my past computer company's vendor shows. But hey, beggars can't be choosers. I got what I got and I'm not complaining. Anyone need a lanyard? Or how about a really loud tooter!



After six hours, we were two tired puppies, let me tell you! But definitely not too tired to stop for ice cream once the tram arrived at our street. We had walked our feet off and didn't even give a moment's thought to high cholesterol or anything else of the sort. Besides, you're supposed to eat dessert first (before dinner)!

So I've been a bit out of it for a Tuesday, when I am normally catching up on the Neighborhood. But now that I'm back I'll start peeking in on y'all. Just knew you'd get a kick outta my technological jaunt, especially throwing in the Smart car!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Stuck On You




Ever since I heard last year that fruits and veggies will some day be tattooed instead of stickered to death, I've been fascinated by the stickers and actually started collecting them (as you see) both in Atlanta and here in Hannover.

These are the places of origin thus far: Belize, Brazil, California, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Oregon, Panama, Peru.

Then I started thinking about all of us Bloggers and the stickers we would have on us if we had them. We are from all over tarnation, which I really like!

Here's where we're from: Canada (British Columbia, Manitoba, New Foundland and Labrador, Ontario, Quebec), Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, UK, USA (AK, CA, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, KY, MD, ME, MI, MS, NY, PA, TN, TX, WI, WV).

Did I inadvertently miss anyone? If so, let me know and I'll add you.

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It's a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you please,
Won't you please,
Please won't you be my neighbor?
(Mister Rogers' Neighborhood)

Friday, March 10, 2006

TGIF!


I don't normally pull a Mr. Fab and publish 1-10 posts a day (just kiddin', Brad :) but THAT WAS THEN AND THIS IS NOW. I just have to show you the difference from Wednesday's photo in this morning's post (stay with me) and these that I just took from this afternoon's walk. Same walk. Different day.



This is the exact same spot as the photo I posted this morning but looking the opposite way. Okay, so it's just the beginning of a patch of blue.



Around the bend, past the half-way house and now passing the horse pastures. OMG. The sun was shining in all his glory because he, too, was glad it was Friday.





By the time I was nearing the apartment, I was so warmed up I had to take off my gloves AND my scarf AND my earmuffs AND unzip my jacket.

Just shows to go-ya that gray, frigidly cold days really CAN and DO turn into gloriously sunshiny, blue and more springlike days. Now if only our emotions and souls could remember that, right?

Anyway, TGIF!