Monday, October 31, 2005

Saturday Night at Pumpkin Creek

Alright, it's Monday, I know! Halloween. But as far as I can tell, you'd never know it from our neighborhood here in Hannover. Maybe it's just an American thing? We're trying to check it out.

But on Saturday, Amy took these photos of Nicholas "carving" his pumpkin (back in Atlanta). What he did was pound his BriteLites into a bat design so that when the pumpkin is lit, the design will light up. How cool is that! I told her she has to send us pictures of it lit up. And did he think that up himself? Amy says he was the one who pounded them all in.

Uncle Mark was there, too, and carved his own pumpkin (in UGA readiness for the football game to follow). Meanwhile, Amy roasted the pumpkin seeds, a memory that goes back so many years. I like the passing of traditions down from one generation to the next, even if I'm not there to witness it.

Tonight Nicholas will be Darth Vader as he goes trick-or-treatin'. Yes, he's been on a Star Wars kick of late and chose that costume. Hmm. If you asked him who his favorite character is in the Spider-Man series, he'd say the Green Goblin. What is it with liking the most evil of all the characters?! Who knows what's in that little 5-year-old head of his. I've decided not to worry about it for now...hoping it just means he's ALL BOY!

For now, I'll just eat him up. What are grandmothers for if not to gloat over their grandkids!

Oh, and in the meantime, feel free to carve your own pumpkin. Seriously!

Presentation Is Everything

Actually, I say that often, but in this case, it's a Yes and a No.

The Greek restaurant I had scouted out over a week ago was (a week ago Sunday) every bit as wonderful as I had hoped. I chose the grilled lamb and this is what I got. YES, the presentation was absolutely pleasing to the eye (especially with a wee bit too much ouzo, a potent, anise-flavored Greek liqueur aperitif already inside me!).

But NO, it was not everything! The taste was to die for. And when I told Donica it was the best lamb I've ever eaten, she laughed and said, "Ginnie, you say that every time!" HA.

So it made me think about photography and some of the blogger comments going back-n-forth. Almost all of our photos have to be "enhanced/corrected/adjusted" to make them more "presentable." That's what programs like PhotoShop do, on which I'm just now scratching the surface.

Which raises the question about photography: is presentation everything?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

"He Who Hesitates" Re-Visited

First of all, this is not my photo. But it could have been!

After my "He who hesitates is lost" post, I started thinking about my biggest and best (worst?) "lost" episode. It was 1969 and I was in the foothills of the Andes in Peru, starting the long process of putting the Campa Pajonal indigenous language into writing. Six months in, Bill (my college sweetheart) and I decided to get married. And he was in Michigan!

So I went back to Lima to get everything in order to leave. During that two weeks, my friends decided to take a weekend trip to Machu Picchu and asked me to join them. Guess what! I declined...for no better reason than that my mind was only on getting home to Bill. I had the time and money. Just not the "living in the NOW!"

Machu Picchu: One of the great wonders of the world! Just a hop, skip and a jump away! An opportunity I may never have again! WHAT WAS I THINKING!

Ahhh, yes. The woulda, coulda, shoulda's of our lives! Hopefully I've learned my lesson by now on that level, but I wonder if we ever really learn to live NOW in this moment, which is all we have?

Exhaling is Good

The article says, "Swoopes Says She Is Gay, and Exhales." Well, good for her. It really isn't one whit of fun living a lie or not being who you are. I wish her much success "because of" and not "in spite of!"

Women's basketball is a big thing in our house since Donica played it during high school 30+ years ago. As a matter of fact, a couple years back we found out from her father in Indianapolis that Donica's record of 11 assists in one game (she was a guard) was finally broken. After all those years!

Sheryl and Donica both, I'm proud of you!

But there's still at least one more closet door to be burst open and that's gay guys in sports.

"Standing up and admitting to being gay in a male team-sports environment requires either a death wish or more guts than any well-known active athlete has yet been able to summon."

My own peronal feeling is that if all of us came out (by such-n-such a date, let's say), the whole thing would soon become ho-hum. We're everywhere, even where you'd least expect it.

So until that happens, guess we'll just have to keep being "surprised," or NOT?!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Great Football Weather!

Everywhere it's Autumn. Everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere.
I love it; I eat it up!

But no college football while here in Hannover! I hate it. GO BLUE anyway! Michigan (5-3) plays at Northwestern (5-2).

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Little Munchkins

A couple of blocks behind our apartment is the Evangelical Lutheran Jacobikirche (St. Jacobi church). The original church was built in 1150! But after years of wars (not WWI or WWII), it was rebuilt in 1782.

To give you perspective, here's a shot of the back corner of the church in what seems, to me, to be an out-of-the-way spot. But as you see, there they are! These two little sets of Munchkins set into the wall. So easy to miss if you weren't paying attention.

Since I don't have a clue who/what they are, I asked Uschi, our landlady, hoping she'd know? But NO. She grew up in the church and even got married there but doesn't know who they are. But now she, too,wants to know and will try to research it for me.

Today was the farmer's market out on the side street by the church and when that happens, every Friday morning, the church is open. So in I went and took scads of photos. A very nice lady told me in German (and wrote it down for Uschi to translate) that the "munchkins" were built with the church in 1782 and not added later. So now I at least know that much.

But who are they and do they have names?? Anyone out there have a clue?

He Who Hesitates

Sometimes, when I'm on a mission to find something to photograph, I think I'm looking but I'm not, even though my eyes are open. It bothers the heck outta me!

First of all, I love this vintage-looking wheelbarrow. But it wasn't until after I had nonchallantly passed it that I suddenly stopped and said, "Wait a minute! What was that??!!"

So I promptly turned around and spent the next minutes gazing at this treasure of gold. There was no "Don't Touch" sign but as is my usual MO, I didn't touch. Now* I want to go back and pick up those disks and feel them in my hand (no crime in that, right?). How heavy do they feel, I wonder, and how rough? And what in Sam's scratch are they for!

Tiergartenfest 2005. Once I got home I did my typical Google search and found something that, when translated from the German, makes sense. These tree disks were entrance "tickets/passes" at the beginning of the month for kids who brought their own stash of chestnuts and/or acorns for the winter feeding of the animals at our nearby Tiergarten (= "zoo" but it's more like a huge, forested wildlife preserve for deer and other wildlife). AND, "Beyond that there is for it a free beverage and a piece cakes during the celebration."

Alright then! (Their English is waaaay better than my German!)

[*A couple days ago I went back to see if they were still there but alas, NO. Neither wheelbarrow nor disks. For all I know, they may have been there for the taking? As they say, He who hesitates is lost!]

A Great American Hero

ROSA PARKS: February 4, 1913 - October 24, 2005

"People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Life Out of Death

Do You See What I See?

I had just sat meditating on a bench alongside the horse pasture before continuing my second walk of the day yesterday. When I caught this gigantic, dead, rotted-out log out of the corner of my eye, with the sun's rays alighting on these two, growing offshoots, I gasped.

Talk about death and resurrection! Talk about Life out of Death!

The Answer Is Blowin' In the Wind

The wind that had blown all night before cleared out the rain of the past several days and ushered in wonderful sunshine yesterday. It was as though Wind had said to Sun, "Be my guest!"

What a pair they make, Wind and Sun! My Horse Whisperer was waiting for me, her hair dancing with Wind and kissing Sun. This time I noticed her white eyelashes. And she noticed I didn't care about my wind-blown hair.

Then I bid her a little ciao and went off on the side path to sit and meditate from afar. The wind began filling up my lungs as I relinquished myself to her rhythm. Breathe in Love, Ginnie; breathe out Hate. Breathe in Peace; breathe out Chaos. Breathe in Expectancy; breathe out Indifference. In Life; out Death. In Hope; out Despair. In Healing; out Disease.

There is so much pain in the world right now. The tsunami, the hurricanes, airplane crashes, fires, floods, rapes, wars, broken marriages, lost jobs, depression, misplaced hope, sickness.

All earth groans out for your coming, thou Great Spirit. Thou ruach, thou Air in Motion, thou Breath of God, Comforter, Paraclete. Even so, come quickly!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Last Night da Vind Came

Halo. Statue? Last night da vind came and blew down da shutta outside of my house and I vant you to send a carPENter to mend da broken shutta.

For several years in a row when we were kids, we'd all pile into Dad's station wagon and drive the 4+ hours north to Crystal Lake in northern Michigan for his annual week of vacation. It was a huge house/cottage on the Bennett/Mom's side of the family, a mile or so away from Lake Michigan.

That's where the gramophone was! We'd crank that thing up and play this vind recording over and over again, laughing out loud. It's also where we started calling telephones "halo statues." Man, the things we remember!

Well, last night da vind came to Hannover and howled around outside our vindows all night long. Every time I woke up I commissioned myself to go out today to find it. And this is what I came up with: first, the before and after shots of grass, standing in the same spot; and then a lone leaf falling.

I love the wind! I'm an Air Sign and absolutely need and crave circulation howling around everywhere inside and outside of me.

No wonder I then need to calm down and be still!

I Scream, You Scream

To the absolute agreement of everyone we've talked to, the best eis cafe (ice cream shop) in all of Hannover is the one only 2 blocks from us. It must be true because they're always busy, even on rainy days (like yesterday). Is that lucky or what!

And they close until January this next Sunday!

So what would you do in that predicament?? Even though Donica has been under the weather with a bronchitis infection, it did NOT keep us from our addiction last night!

Death by chocolate.* What a way to go! (I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Wanna go with me?)

[* chocolate ice cream, chunks of Toblerone, grated chocolate, chocolate syrup, nuts and whipped cream]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fractal Geometry

[WARNING: I'm in way over my head on this one but I find it most fascinating.]

From time to time, I come across a word/phrase that intrigues me enough to Google/Wiki it. For instance, Fractal Geometry. What in the world is that, I asked. My limited math background (high-school geometry and algebra) rendered me clueless.

Now I know that the above fractal image of the Mandelbrot set "may well be the most familiar image produced by the mathematics of the last century." Whether in nature's symmetry or in the patterns within our visual arts and social sciences, mathematical formulas produce shapes of "great organic beauty and infinite subtle variation." Designs replicated within themselves are everywhere. Like this one:

That reminds me of my Origami Mathematics post from awhile back. Girls, stereotypically, aren't the ones who pursue math, as was certainly true in my case. Miss Pound was my only teacher in high school (Algebra II) who kept me from getting a 4.0! But I quite enjoy getting my come-uppance vicariously through the women I read about, like Vittoria in Angels & Demons (Dan Brown's prequel to The Da Vinci Code).

One of my favorite paintings is this Norman Rockwell self-portrait, which I wish were a fractal. Close, maybe, but no cigar. I include it only because it came out of the labyrinth of my brain when thinking about designs within designs.

But I digress! "Fractal geometry is a new way of looking at the world" and all its surrounding natural patterns. I guess you could say it's on the tip of my eyes right now. It's in the Native American mandalas I color; it's in the brick pattern of the chimney I see outside my window. It's everywhere!

Not that I would ever compare myself to my mom, whom we endearingly called a Professional Student, but I suddenly want to know something about everything, even if I don't fully understand it!

With Child

I swear to God, this tree is with child!

Not that I'd ever want it (or its child!) to die, mind you, but can you imagine what that burl bowl would look like! Hot dang!

This tree is in the Tiergarten ( = "zoo" but more like a wildlife preserve) down the street from us. While the trees are having babies, the children play with the deer.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Nothing but a Fool in Love

One day on my walk I stumbled upon some chestnuts on the side of the road but had no clue what tree they belonged to. Sounds strange, I know, but on looking up, there were several different kinds of trees clumped together with nary a nut on any of them to help me out. So I just gave my "hmm" and carried on. There's this thing about chestnuts that goes all the way back to my childhood in Michigan. I don't remember where I found them but I recall the delicious, smooth fingering of them in my hands. Hearing about them "roasting on an open fire" always sounded so romantic.

Then wouldn't you know, when we were in Munich a few years back, there they were, being roasted on flat pans above kettled fires along the sides of the street. I don't care where we are (we found them in Rome and Paris, too), I'll buy them in their newspapered cones and eat them as a snack while we walk around. Like a new-found treasure, they delight me!

So the day after my "hmm" above, I just happened upon a grove of chestnut trees (top photo). No question this time about what tree they belonged to! I actually took a photo of their leaves (above left) because of getting my education about the edible and non-edible chestnuts to be found. Alas, alack, these happen to be the non-edible variety (the same kind I remember from childhood) and I know that for a fact: I once tried to eat them and had to "expunge" them from myself! Just for the halibut, here are good photos of both kinds, edible and non-edible, from the photoblogs I've found.

Still, I stuffed my pockets full of them, kid that I am, and while doing so, these two darlings came along and, gleefully, started to gather their own. At first, I thought they were collecting them for themselves. But no, they were collecting them for me! So very helpful. All the while, they were jabbering in German (of course) and looked at me quite askance when I said "Ich spreche nür ein bischen Deutsch" (I speak only a little German) like I didn't know what I was talking about. I did hear and understand at least one word when the boy handed me his collection: Vielen ("lots!")! (Can't you just see what their parents look like!)

Ruth, remember those chestnuts in Paris you tried to roast but they came out rock hard? I'm thinking they may have been the non-edible variety, so thank God!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

He's Got the Whole World in His Hand

This is actually kinda interesting, at least to me. When Donica came home on Friday night, she gave me this heart made out of Kissi stone (soapstone) from Kenya which she had found in the Amsterdam airport. She liked the way it felt in her hand. I half-jokingly told her I would make a post of it, taking a photo of it in my hand. I, too, liked the way it felt.

So a few minutes ago I took these photos and came back to the computer, first to read my mail. Guess what I found! "Interest in exotic art objects from distant lands might suddenly capture your interest today, Ginnie - possibly through the influence of friends who are either from those lands or have traveled to them."

I wasn't gonna post this today but after reading that, I just had to!

(Besides of which, I've made a slight change in my template to see if I can get more of a margin around my photos. Wanna see if/how it works. As you know by now, I learn as I go!)

Queen of Spades

She just seemed to trump them all, which is why I think she was on top of the heap outside the grocery store yesterday!

[You do know, I hope, that clicking on my photos will enlarge them. "All the better to see you with, my dear!"]

Saturday, October 22, 2005

They See Things?

So what does it mean that potatoes have eyes, other than that they're no longer fresh and have "gone to seed." Sure, we know what they're for, but why aren't they called noses, for instance. I didn't think twice about them this morning when I went to make Mexican potatoes* for brunch (a good thing to make in Germany!). Until I realized, "Aha! Another photo-op!" See what I mean!

What's more gross, potatoes with eyes or the eyes themselves! If you had a pile of eyes, what would you do with them?

All the better to see you with, my dear!

[* Olive-oil fried potatoes with scrambled eggs, cheese, green onions, bell peppers, salsa. The slimmed-down version is just potatoes, eggs and cheese.]

Friday, October 21, 2005

Finding My Muse

To give credit where credit is due, I need to share some new-found Inspiration with you.

It started with Nate suggesting I get some kind of site meter to track who comes and goes here at my site. Something fun to see. Indeed! It's not like Big Brother watching you, seriously, but more like curiosity killing the cat.

Anyway, bloggers "hit" each other all the time as they just happen across each others' paths. In the process, I have found several interesting tips and tidbits, all of which I've put into my pipe to smoke.

One site in particular, Prairie Girl, has been a great motivator for learning my camera and PhotoShop better and has been a resource for all kinds of links to further my photographic journey. She, like Ted Roth, has been pure, unadulterated I-N-S-P-I-R-A-T-I-O-N.

I want to find my muse--that creative, artistic, passionate side of who I am, not somebody else. Who am I and what makes me tick? How can I carve out my own path and hear the beat of a different drummer? And how can/will that show up in my photography?!

Bear with me if I go a bit crazy these days. I feel like a kid in a candy shop! As I go out on my walks, I'm starting to see things in a different way and am creating a million posts in my head with their accompanying photos (like the one above).

Should the time come when I hit a slump (it will), please feel free to remind me of today!

[Donica comes to Hannover tonight after a day in Amsterdam, following a week in Barcelona! Yaaay!]

The Dog Days of Summer?

Across and down the street from our apartment is a shop that still has this net of balls hanging outside its storefront. Bathing suits too!

And it's 50°F outside right now ("feels like 48°F") at 9:45a! HEL-LO!

Dog days of summer, my eye! But the thought was nice and it made for a great photo-op. TGIF!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Horse Whisperer

It never ceases to amaze me what's in our own backyard here in Hannover! I try to take a brisk hour's walk every day throughout the week, hopefully in a new direction or down a new path.

The other day I went to check out a Greek restaurant on a side street a couple of blocks away and noticed that if I continued down the street, I'd be smack-dab in the middle of horse pastures! Unbelievable.

Which is where I found the horse whisperer. Not me, the horse! I was way too busy snapping away on telephoto to notice, as she walked towards me and once I put the camera down, that she was right there in front of my face! Just as still and quiet as I'm not! It took my breath away until I had the presence of mind to listen to what she was saying. The phrase "Be still and know that I am God" comes to mind. Or "Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?"

The next day, late afternoon, I went back and took pictures of the fence posts of her pasture. And the barbed wire. She doesn't notice or care much about such things, I guess. She's more interested in my Soul, which is my fantasy! (What's yours?)

Rosenkohl: M-Mmm Good!

I just loooooove brussel sprouts (Rosenkohl) but Donica doesn't. Well, let's say she'll eat them but she'd rather not. So guess what I do when she's not here! You've got that right. I cook up a pot and eat off of them the next few days.

You can hardly go wrong at €0,49 ($0.59) a bag! (Man, that sure seems cheap!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Word Verification Option

Okay, so I finally broke down and switched from No to Yes in my settings. This means that if you choose to leave a comment, you'll be required to complete a word verification step.

"What this does is to prevent automated systems from adding comments to your blog, since it takes a human being to read the word and pass this step. If you've ever received a comment that looked like an advertisement or a random link to an unrelated site, then you've encountered comment spam. A lot of this is done automatically by software which can't pass the word verification, so enabling this option is a good way to prevent many such unwanted comments."
Hopefully this will eliminate the spam I keep getting (and eliminating) and will not deter you from leaving a comment if ever you're so inclined! Try it; you'll like it.

The Learning Curve

Remember the trouble we had figuring out our European windows last spring? Talk about feeling dumb! Well, this time it's the radiators. It didn't matter how I finagled the knobs or thermostat when I arrived on Monday, no water started gurgling through the pipes.

After nearly freezing to death that night, yesterday morning I finally broke down and went to our landlord's apartment below ours to ask. Both Uschi and Wolfgang came upstairs to show me what to do. Still no heat. So I took a nice hour's walk and warmed up a bit, which definitely helped. Maybe I didn't need the heat after all, I thought, even though it is in the 40's at night and high 50's during the day.

But by last night I decided "This is ridiculous!" So down I went again with all my apologies to disturb them yet again (though Uschi always tells me she wants to help whenever!) and GUESS WHAT! Wolfgang, obviously mystified, went to the landing closet and flipped a switch. Voila! The water started gurgling immediately.

I wasn't that dumb after all! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!

BTW, I grew up on big, fat steam radiators in Michigan. These are the slimline version, I guess, and since there's no steam, I'm guessing they're simply called radiators. The ever-s0-often gurgles remind me they're working, which is quite calming, to say the least.