Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Changing of the Guard

HA! And you think I'm talking about London. But no, I digress.

This was a story in the making yesterday when the workers came to our Hannover apartment building to change out the wee tiny windows that you see here on the left. This is the back side of the 4 stories (65 steps!), opposite the street. The bottom roof with windows is our building entrance behind the alley and in the courtyard.

Uschi told me that the 100-year-old iron-framed windows were "too cold." And since she and Wolfgang are forever doing projects to keep this building up to snuff, it was a needed project, she said!

There are actually 4 of these windows, one on top of the other at each landing, approximately 1 x 2.4 feet each. They're all in tiny closet rooms that used to be for toilets years ago (until they added bathrooms to the units?). That top left window is in the landing closet before the 9 steps up to our attic apartment. It's where our vacuum cleaner is. And those 2 windows to the right are the landing windows that give us light. The top window on the far right belongs to the apartment next to ours.

Okay, then. Here's the entire process before your very eyes, all done in one easy day's work! Uschi says these are the smallest windows they make.

Iron-framed window before and after being removed.

The before and after windows.

Chipping out the old; bringing in the new.

Setting the new frame in place.

Yup, the new ones work just fine.

And now, the finished project! See--the changing of the guard! They remind me of sentry windows, keeping watch over our building night and day. Day and night.

Appropriately, yesterday was the day I switched from old to new Blogger. YAY! No major hassles to report whatsoever...yet. Now I'm contemplating changing my template, in spite of the fact that all the good ones are taken. I may end up looking like one of you. :)


[Addendum on 3/4/07] The day after I published this post, landlady Uschi sent me this pic that she took from outside when I was carefully looking everything over. It really was a fun project, from beginning to end, so I clearly need to include this pic. :)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Victoria Memorial

You know I'm gonna have to take this bit by bit because I have lots of pics to arrange into albums. In the meantime, I'll give you tastes of my weekend in London before arriving here in Hannover last evening.

From Gatwick Airport on Friday, I rode the train to Victoria Station and walked from there with my suitcase to our hotel in the St. James area. I just happened to walk by Buckingham Palace, where this Victoria Memorial sits out front! So, of course, I had my camera in hand and snapped away. All of this we had seen in 2002, but not with my digital camera.

I wanted to keep zooming in on Queen Victoria herself who has sat there since 1911, gazing out on the world as it gazes back at her. I was quite surprised to see her nose job (below) when I later transferred my pics!

On the pinnacle of the memorial, high above Queen Victoria, stands the winged Victory, so graceful in her glory. Wiki says the whole sculpture has a nautical theme, so I'm guessing she feels quite victorious over battles at sea.

How's this for starting out the London weekend! Before I get to our Saturday's excursion (last post), I'll next take you to St. Paul's Cathedral, which we did NOT see last trip. It was my main goal for Friday while Donica was in business meetings and was well worth the time and effort.

And BTW, don't be surprised if my next post is on New Blogger! I think it'll make me switch after this post, so wish me luck. I may even change my template!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fit to be Tied

With excitement, that is!

Now that the horse series is done, I'm off again to Hannover, Germany, but this time via London, where Donica has been all week. I leave this evening and arrive Friday/tomorrow morning with the day before me while Donica is in business meetings. My plan is to walk around and see, among other things, St. Paul's Cathedral (which we missed in 2002).

On Saturday (this is where I'm REALLY fit to be tied), we have an all-day excursion booked to see the following 3 sights:

WINDSOR CASTLE: We missed it when we were in London in April of 2002 because of the Queen Mum's funeral. The castle was closed to all visitors, of course. It's the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world.

STONEHENGE: These 40-ton rocks were dragged to the lonely, windy plain of Salisbury Hill 5,000 years ago. Because astrology is one of my "hobbies," I am dying to see this magical place.

ROMAN BATHS: After lunch in a traditional English Pub, we head off to Bath to see the honey-colored Georgian terraces standing on the slopes of the River Avon. Then, on to Bath Abbey, where the first British King was crowned in 973 AD, the Pulteney Bridge, and the Roman baths.

OMG. I can hardly stand it. And guess what! It's all on my normal frequent-flyer miles to Hannover with no extra cost for the weekend layover in London (except for what we spend there!). How's that for excitement!

We'll fly to Hannover Sunday late afternoon and will be there till March 9th.

[All 3 images are from the Golden Tours' website.]

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Circus of a Different Color

[The entire series of 4 pics is now published below.]

After all the circus discussion last week, here and on my Shutterchance (SC) blog, I've decided to show you another "circus" that wipes all other circuses off the map. Well, except for Cirque du Soleil, of course. But then, they don't have animals.

Two days before we took Nicholas to the circus last week (last post), I stopped at the side of the road near our house after errands to watch these 2 fillies have the time of their lives. The pasture is huge and has a sign saying they board horses, so at any given time there may be 10 or more horses to watch. Horse heaven!

But these 2 were having a heyday! I am showing this as a 4-part series on my SC site, starting today, and was gonna show all 4 pics at once in this post. Instead, as each day comes (7p Atlanta time is when the SC site publishes the next day, midnight UK time), I'm gonna add the next pic to this post so that by Wednesday evening, the entire series will be here in one load.

In this first pic (above), the fillies are racing at breakneck speed, side by side. If you look hard enough (or click to enlarge), you can see that both horses have only one foot on the ground! As I said on SC, pretend that they're running into this frame from one on the left, Harry Potter movie style.

Stayed tuned here for the circus/dance of your life.....

#2 of 4: As these two fillies raced around the pasture, side by side, they'd slow down to give each other love pats and then would tear off again.

#3 of 4: The Kiss

#4 of 4: The Grand Finale Hug, after which both fillies went off on their own to calmly graze in the pasture. I'm sure they worked up quite an appetite!

Thanks for hanging in there with me as I've shown this series day by day (coordinating it with my Shutterchance site). It was such a splendid experience for me as the observer. I'm glad you've enjoyed it as well!

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Circus Goons

While I try like the dickens to get a mini-album published of our circus outing the other night (bad, bad Mercury!), I'll tease you with these pics. [Circus Album published!]

This goonie hat came with the obligatory cotton candy and Nicholas was game for the part. HA! Better him than me.

First of all, this RB and B&B circus was NOT like the past two years. It was totally different. If I may say so, it was much more Cirque du Soleil-ish, even if nothing will ever touch that! There was only one "stage" (no 3 rings) and there actually was a bit of a story that involved a little boy (age 9-10-ish) who was there throughout the entire show (yellow shirt on the far right below).

Ask Nichloas and he'll tell you one of his favorite acts was the food fight, which started here in this diner...

The blue clowns and the red clowns were all doing just fine. Even Elephant was doing his job, ringing the bell whenever someone new came in. Then suddenly, all bedlam broke loose. Food flying everywhere with lots of slipping and sliding. Nicholas especially liked "the desserts"--the pies thrown in everyone's face. And then, of course, Elephant had to hose them all down.

Fewer animal acts this time; more human acts. Which raises an interesting point. Did RB and B&B have to prove something against those who are dead-set against cruelty to animals? I don't know. But the pic I put up on Shutterchance yesterday drew quite a pro/con debate about having circuses at all. If you want to read it, feel free. Donica and I have a year now to decide if we will take Nicholas to the circus NEXT year. Please weigh in with your vote, if you have one, because it's still up in the air for us.

At least no one will take away our cotton candy, right, Nicholas??!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cupid's Arrow

Okay. So this isn't Cupid, but it's pretty darn close, if you ask me. Say Hello to The Archer, who points his arrow at the front door of the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) in Hannover. Pretend that he's pointing his arrow at YOU, if you need him!

Do any of you remember my post the day after Valentine's Day last year when beauless Amy had a special, surprise treat from her dad, visiting her at her company with his barbershop quartet? He wanted her to know that she was deeply loved by many and was not alone!

Here's that same Amy, a year later, struck by Cupid's arrow straight to her heart. Beau Dennis still lives in LA (Amy lives here in Atlanta with 6-yr-old Nicholas) but is here this very day, celebrating this special time of the year. Tonight he'll take Amy out for dinner while Donica and I take Nicholas to the circus. Sounds like a deal, right?!

See what can happen when Cupid sets his mind to it!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pay Attention HEADS UP!

We are home again, here in Atlanta! Safe travels for both of us on Friday, thanks to all your good wishes for journey mercies.

We even have a working furnace, at least partically so! The two-zone apparatus needs a part, which will supposedly be installed this week. Right now the heat is not coming on downstairs and is staying on too long upstairs. So it was like a sauna (Donica's word) our first night in bed. By the second night, we figured out how to regulate it better, but it's still too cold downstairs (62 F). You'd think the right part would have come with the furnace but let's not go there!

Switch gears now.

These are 2 of 3 faces up under the first floor in the front of our apartment building in Hannover. For 100 years they have been looking out onto the street, paying attention.

Believe it or not, I had never seen them until landlady Uschi pointed them out to me the other day. Man! Talk about NOT paying attention. I felt so DUH!

All of which is to say (drum roll, please), Mercury is slowing down for its retrograde stint from February 13 - March 7. I've talked about this before, so this shouldn't be news to you any more, right? It happens 3 times each year.

The point is: PAY ATTENTION. Look around you to make sure you haven't missed anything. Don't be hasty. Check for your purse/wallet and car keys. Save stuff on your computers. Don't be surprised when you have transportation snafus, etc., etc. Yes, I'm forewarning you. Try not to be caught off-guard!

Mercury Retrograde (MR) dates for 2007:
February 13-March 7
June 15-July 9
October 11-November 1

Friday, February 09, 2007

How Many More Miles, Mommy?

Today Donica and I both fly back to Atlanta, she from Amsterdam and I from Hannover. That's approximately 4,894 miles (7,876 km) one way.

Ever wonder how far it is from Hannover to, let's say, Auckland, Ms. DreamWalker?

Or how about from Hannover to Vancouver, Ms. Expat Traveler? Or to Amsterdam, Mr. James?

Hey, wait a minute. Is this right? Someone please help me out here because I thought it was 500 miles from Hannover to Amsterdam, so 300 km cannot possibly be right. And how can it be the same distance to Vancouver as to Atlanta?! Where's Christina/Donica when I need her!

Anyway, you get the point. This "sundial" of sorts is on the sidewalk in City Center, near the outside exits of the underground Kroepcke tram station. Christina and I had fun last Friday looking at all the cities. It has a way of making everyone seem closer together on this shrinking globe of ours, doesn't it!

Ciao for now. See you next from Atlanta.

(BTW, if you didn't see my postscript on my last post, please take a look. Stacey from Runaway Rubber Duckie sent some needed levity!)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Anxiety and Fear

Edvard Munch's famous The Scream, from 1893 (image from Wiki), is probably the perfect image for what I am posting today: Anxiety and Fear. I don't remember when I have felt it as much as this past weekend. I wasn't gonna post about it but then realized you'd miss a very important piece in my life this trip to Hannover if I didn't.

This past Saturday evening, Donica and I babysat for little Leo, the 19-month-old son of business expat friends here. Just before putting him to bed, we received a call from daughter Amy in Atlanta. She had gone over to our house to water the plants and to work on her taxes. Her call was to tell us that she heard a constant clicking on-and-off sound from the furnace. After myriad questions from us, she also discovered our house was 40° F/5° C, upstairs and down! We had set the thermostat to 58° F! So clearly something was wrong.

Several phone calls and a maintenance report later (within 2 hours), we heard that the technician smelled gas when he entered the house (something Amy had missed!) and discovered the furnace was emitting gas into the main floor with every click on. How long this had been happening, who knows (we had left the house the previous Monday). But he says he hated to think what would have happened when WE opened the door this Friday if it hadn't been detected sooner.

As of a couple hours ago, there is now a new furnace installed at our house (thanks to Amy's and son Mark's help). The old furnace was 10 years old and was apparently due for the upgrade. Indeed!

Okay, that's the background. With us so far away and feeling totally helpless, I'm sure you can imagine why my heart and stomach were in my throat. I had visions of the house exploding with Amy in it or her dying a slow death by gas asphyxiation. To say nothing about losing the house itself, of course!

After the stop-gap measure to fix the furnace on Saturday, as we went to bed that night, I had to let all the anxiety and fear go. It was like I had to scream to get it all out. No one can live with that kind of fear.

Breathe in, breathe out. The Universe is there to take care of us, Ginnie. Breathe in, breathe out....

A Thursday postscript:

I just received this altered image from
Runaway Rubber Duckie, who read my post while on cruise (she's a cruise ship pianist!). She said she added her rubber duckie to this image awhile back when the painting was still stolen...and wanted to cheer me up (click imge to enlarge). :)

Thanks, Stacey. I love it!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Oldest is OLD!

This past Friday, true to form now, Christina and I met "under the tail" in front of Hannover's hauptbahnhof (train station). It's a plan that works out so well for both of us. We then spent the rest of our time in City Center.

After our prerequisite latte machiatto, we went off to find Hannover's oldest church: Kreuzkirche (Holy Cross Church), completed in 1933. The Marktkirche (Market Church) nearby is the most famous. But the Kreuzkirche is the oldest. Its Passion Altar and collection of icons in St. Anne's Chapel, neither of which I have seen, supposedly make it outstanding.

Here it is from the back because it's very hard to get the entire front in a pic:

Now, look closely at this section of the church's tower (below). If it wasn't drawn to your attention, you'd probably totally miss it--as I did when I first saw it two years ago. Do you see the tile-like flap to the right of the lower window?

That "tile" is a carving/drawing of a dove ("duve" in Low German) that Johann Duve donated when he had the baroque spire erected on top of the church tower in 1652. It is considered to be Hannover's first advertising sign!

Granted, our style of advertising today may be light years ahead of this. But I think this is pretty cool. And to think I had totally missed it until I read about it in one of my Hannover books while getting pics ready for my Shutterchance blog.

Even Christina learned something new and she's lived here for 15 years! :)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Perfect Meld

No, I'm not crazy, but this is about as good as it gets when you mix Atlanta and Hannover!

Peanut butter is to America what Nutella is to Europe. Peanuts vs. hazelnuts.

Wiki says: "Peanut butter provides protection against cardiovascular disease due to high levels of monounsaturated fats and Resveratrol. An excellent source of protein, and vitamins B3 and E, peanuts also contain magnesium, folate, dietary fiber and arginine. Peanuts also contain high levels of an antioxidant called p-coumaric acid." (And as we all know, many people are sadly allergic to it!)

Nutella, on the other hand, is more like frosting on the cake! While also made with nuts (hazelnuts), the peanut oil goes through a hot-solvent extraction process which takes out all the proteins, so you are left with pure peanut oil which is generally non-allergenic. The cocoa added is what gives it a chocolatey appearance.

Did I tell you that the peanut butter jars here in Hannover are so small (8 oz.) that we bring over our own 40 oz. (2.5 lb) jars!

The first ingredient of peanut butter is peanuts. The first ingredient of Nutella is sugar. So think peanut butter and jelly! Put these two together on incredible German bread and Voila! The perfect meld of America and Europe...or Atlanta and Hannover.

Yup, that's what I had for lunch yesterday! As I often say, it doesn't take much to make me happy. :)