From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Night Will Soon Be Ending

Story behind an Advent hymn

Early winter sunset
Early winter sunset in Christian County, KY

When we lived in Germany, I experienced the shortest winter days and longest winter nights I've ever seen! In Berlin, the sun set before 4:00 p.m. in December and January and didn't rise until 8:00 a.m. Winter was a very dark time there. (Berlin lies about 7° farther north than Montreal, Canada, believe it or not.)

"The Night Will Soon be Ending,"  a German Advent hymn, was penned in 1938 by novelist and poet Jochen Klepper (1903-1942). Klepper's knowledge of long winter nights and his personal experience with the Nazi regime were surely on his mind as he wrote this poem about darkness, light, hope, and promise.  Here is the first verse (as translated by Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr.)

The night will soon be ending; the dawn cannot be far.
Let songs of praise ascending now greet the morning Star!
All you whom darkness frightens with guilt or grief or pain
God's radiant Star now brightens and bids you sing again.

In the new LCMS hymnal, "The Night Will Soon Be Ending" is set to the Welsh tune "Llangloffan." But in Germany, the hymn has been sung since 1939 to a melody composed for it by Johannes Petzold.

The story of  Klepper's life is tragic. Jochen Klepper was married to a Jewish lady named Hannah ("Hanni".) Hanni had two daughters, Brigitte and Reni, by a previous marriage. The Kleppers sent the older daughter Brigitte to England in 1938, the same year that Klepper wrote "The Night Will Soon Be Ending." They could not bear to send little Reni too, so she stayed with them in Germany. Later, they tried to get an exit visa for Reni, but they were denied repeatedly. They also faced a mandatory divorce because it was illegal for a Jew to be married to a German.

German postage stamp
German stamp honoring Jochen Klepper
In December 1942, Adolph Eichmann, the Nazi official in charge of Jewish deportation, personally rejected their request to leave Germany. Certain that death awaited them in concentration camps  Klepper, Hani, and Reni committed suicide. Klepper wrote a final entry in his diary minutes before they died: "Tonight we die together. Over us stands in the last moments the image of the blessed Christ who surrounds us. With this view we end our lives.”

Klepper's diary was used as evidence in the trial of Adolph Eichmann.* A collection of excerpts from the Klepper diary, In the Shadow of His Wings, was published in 1956. I could not find a copy at any of my usual internet booksellers.

Several short histories of Klepper's life are available online. One article explores the role of German Mennonites in World War II as related to some events in Jochen Klepper's life. Another article on a Lutheran website discusses Klepper's theology and spiritual life in addition to the story of his life.
_ _ _ _ _
*I clearly remember news reports and adult talk about the Eichmann trial during my childhood, though I did not grasp the full significance of it at the time.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Crazy Summer of '92

July 4, 1992 remembered

In 1987, we went to Germany with AAFES (the Army Air Force Exchange Service, my husband's employer). We spent two years in the Aschaffenburg area (south of Frankfurt) and three years in Berlin.  The July 4 weekend  of 2011 is the 19th anniversary of our return to the U.S. from Germany.

Leaving Berlin

We lived in military housing when we first arrived in Berlin. Our apartment there was decent, but about 18 months before we left, we were moved to a spacious apartment in a lovely, brand-new building. We had playgrounds and a small shopping district within walking distance, and bus service practically to our door. We liked where we lived. And we had friends in Berlin -- church friends, German friends, and military friends. When AAFES gave us orders to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, it was hard to leave Berlin.

Keely was five years old and Isaac had just turned two. Dennis had to work full-time until the last few days before we left, so much of the work of preparing for our PCS (Permanent Change of Station) fell to me. I didn't get much sleep during the last few days. On our departure date, July 3, I lay down on a bare mattress at 2 a.m. for a nap. We got up at 4 a.m. and left for the airport at 5 a.m.

I was so exhausted that I don't remember many details of the long flight back to the US. I guess the children were good. I don't remember. Maybe Dennis was entertaining them. I suppose we came through New York -- we usually did. I do remember asking Dennis if we should make a sign with our name on it, so the AAFES manager from Fort Campbell who was meeting us in Nashville would recognize us. My husband said not to worry; he would be able to pick us out from the crowd.

Arrival in Tennessee

When we finally landed in Nashville, we gathered our children and carry-ons and headed for the baggage claim. Before long, a dark-haired, thin young man with glasses approached us and asked, "Are you the Netz family?" It was George Ricker, an AAFES manager from Fort Campbell and one of my husband's new co-workers.

As we walked from the terminal to the car, I observed that the air was very humid and unpleasantly warm. It was 11 p.m, but heat was radiating from the pavement. It certainly didn't feel like Berlin, where we had been wearing little jackets in the evenings. I had packed sweaters for Keely and Isaac,  but clearly we wouldn't be needing them. George told us that Tennessee was having a record-setting heat-wave.

We stuffed our luggage into the trunk of an AAFES car, and the kids and I got in the back seat. Dennis rode in front, and George drove. We got on the interstate and drove through the city and out into the dark night of the countryside. George and Dennis talked about Fort Campbell and the job and AAFES people for a long time, and the children dozed against me. It seemed that surely we would reach our destination soon.

Then we passed a large, green road sign that announced we were entering Kentucky. George exclaimed, "Oh, NO!" And then he groaned, "I can't believe I did that!"

"Did what?" we asked.

View Larger Map

"I forgot to turn off I-65 onto I-24, and now we're way up north," he said sheepishly. "We have to turn around and go back. There's nothing else to do. I'm sorry! I was too busy talking!"   So we turned around and drove back to the intersection George had missed on the north side of Nashville, and then we headed west on I-24 from Nashville to Clarksville (TN).

Our detour more than doubled the amount of time it should have taken to get to Clarksville, but at last, we checked into our motel suite and fell into our beds. It had been a very long day of travel.

Unbelievable heat

About noon the next day -- July 4, 1992 -- we walked out of our dark, air-conditioned rooms into the staggering heat and brilliance of a parking lot on a 102-degree day. The blinding sunshine, intense heat, and suffocating humidity made me feel weak.

My husband started work immediately, so he could save his "PCS" time-off for moving into our house later. With no consideration of his living situation, his boss assigned him to the midnight shift. Every day about 10:00 a.m.,  I left the motel with Keely and Isaac so Dennis could try to sleep. Mid-afternoon, we slipped back into the other room of the suite, and I tried to get the kids to take a nap or watch cartoons quietly.

At last, a home

We spent about a month in the Clarksville motel and another month in a Hopkinsville motel while we located, purchased, and waited for possession of our new home. Keely started school while we were still living in the Hopkinsville motel. I talked to the principal and explained that we weren't yet living in the district, but we soon would be.

One final bit of lunacy in our lives was the woman who was living in the house we bought. She didn't want to move out, and she was angry that we had bought the house. She found out what motel we were in, and she started calling frequently on the telephone to scream at us. The motel couldn't or wouldn't screen the calls. We wondered if she would even move out of the house, but she finally did.

It was a happy day when we moved to our new home on the Tuesday after Labor Day. A big truck brought our furniture a few days later. Gradually, we developed some routines again and began to feel comfortable in Kentucky. But every year at Fourth of July, I remember the long (very long!), hot (very hot!), and crazy (very crazy!) summer of 1992.

Airplane image from Clipart Inc.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Fish Skulls Seen at Stadtprozelten

Horrific trophies of a Main River fisherman

I know that some of this blog's readers  like to fish, and I thought this photo might interest them. I took this picture in 1987 at Stadtprozelten along the Main River in Bavaria, (West) Germany. I've written briefly before about visiting Stadtprozelten on the Main with little Keely.

This photo was taken on the narrow lane that navigates the steep bluff above Stadtprozelten's rooftops.  The fish skulls were nailed to the side of someone's shed. I hope you can see the sharp teeth. I suppose that the teeth didn't protrude quite as far when there was still flesh on the bones. Still, that's not a mouth I'd want to reach into for a fish hook!

The Main River has some big Wels catfish, but the shape of these skulls looks more like some kind of a pike to me. Believe me, I am not offering an expert opinion.

Wikipedia article about Stadtprozelten
Picture gallery on Stadtprozelten's homepage

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Berlin Adventure

Isaac's study-abroad trip begins

Life has been proceeding at breakneck pace around here for a couple of weeks. Much of the activity has been related to Isaac's trip to Germany. He will be in Berlin for five weeks, through a Kentucky program for international study. While there, he'll earn six hours of college credit. The two classes he is taking are "History of Berlin" and "Hitler and Nazi Germany".

On Wednesday (May 26), Keely, Isaac, and I drove to Cincinnati.  On Thursday (May 27), Isaac and his group flew out of the Cincinnati airport -- and Keely and I drove back home.

The photo above was taken as the group waited to go through security. The very tall, dark-headed fellow at the right side of the photo is Dr. Pizzo, the history professor. He's from Murray State University -- Isaac's school.  The other professor, Dr. Henneberg, has dual German and American citizenship. At Morehead State University in Kentucky, she teaches German, but in Germany, she teaches American poetry (if I'm remembering correctly.)

Isaac left word on his Facebook that he has arrived safe and sound. He said that he had been up for 28 hours, but I think that surely he slept a little on the plane. I hope so, anyhow! According to the itinerary, the whole group is taking a tour of the city and eating dinner together on Saturday, and then on Sunday, they have their first classes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Friday, November 20, 2009

Berlin in June, 1989

A letter home from West Berlin

I wrote this letter 6 days before our son Isaac was born. Keely was 3 years old. We were living in military housing (Duepple Housing area) in West Berlin, on the ground floor of an apartment building that was 6 or 7 stories high. Dennis was working for the PX system (AAFES).

June 7, 1989

Dear Daddy, Mama, and all the family,

I'll write a few lines while Keely watches Sesame Street and Dennis snoozes.

Dennis was off work today, so we took Keely to the beach -- the shore of the Wannsee, which is a large lake just a few miles from us. Keely wore her swimsuit and waded a bit at the water's edge, but she wasn't at all adventurous about getting wet above her knees. Dennis and I parked ourselves in our lawn chairs, and Keely had a good time filling her sand bucket with various mixtures of sand and water.

The sky clouded over, and it looked rainy, so we left after an hour, just before it got seriously wet. Maybe it was the approaching rainstorm that made the swans so frisky today. All the time we were there, they were opening their wings and flapping across the water.

As you know, Willadene and Lewis (Dennis's sister and her husband) were here last week. We went to various places in the city with them that we hadn't visited before -- the stadium that was built for the 1936 Olympics, an interesting flea and antique market in some old subway cars at one of the stations, and St. Hedwig's Cathedral. The cathedral is in East Berlin, and the stadium and flea market are in West Berlin.

Also in East Berlin, we saw the weekly parade of East German soldiers in front of their Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. They goosestep new guards in and out every hour, but each Wednesday at 2:30, the whole company has a elaborate ceremony and parade on the street in front of the monument.

After being so warm in May, it's turned cool again. They've even turned on the heat again. It's been below 50° several nights.

I hope that by the time you actually receive this letter, maybe we'll have the baby. The day we went to East Berlin and walked for miles, I wondered if maybe we would need to rush to the hospital. (I didn't say a word to Dennis and the group about it, because I didn't want to get everyone excited!) But I'm still waiting. I have my suitcase partially packed.

Laveda Boggs, another AAFES wife who lives one floor above us, has offered repeatedly to watch Keely if we have to go to the hospital suddenly in the night. She works during the day, so we've made arrangements with another lady (Linda) to keep Keely while Dennis is at work. Linda is trustworthy and has three preschoolers of her own. Keely and I have visited at their house several times recently so Keely won't feel like a stranger.

Keely has been wanting to learn to "spreche Deutsch" lately. She has become aware that she and the little German kids speak two different languages. She's been asking me to teach her. When we finish a little lesson, she says, "NOW those kids will understand what I'm saying!"

We went today to see about enrolling Keely in preschool next fall at the John F. Kennedy School. It's a private school, and we will have to pay tuition. We will have to pay her tuition at any preschool, so why not try for one of the better ones? They teach preschool mainly in German. We couldn't find anyone at the school because they're all on a week's vacation, so we will have to try again. They have a waiting list, and I wouldn't want her to begin before next fall anyway. With the baby, that will be enough adjusting and stress for her at present.

Well, I don't have enough news to begin another page, so I'll sign off. All's well here, and we hope you are doing OK too! Love from each of us, and juicy Keely-kisses all around.

Gennie, Dennis, and Keely

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Berlin Wall Remembered

We watched The Wall come down.

Dennis and I lived in West Berlin from 1988-1991. Dennis was working as a manager for the Army-Air Force Exchange System (PX system), and I was a busy mother of one, then two small children. Keely turned three shortly after we moved to Berlin in 1988, and Isaac was born there in June, 1989.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, this post and its photos will tell a little about Berlin from the viewpoint of an American who was there when the Wall was opened.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Memorable Visits to the Zoo

Talk to the animals

All visits to the zoo are interesting, but sometimes, something happens that is out of the ordinary, even for the zoo.

When we lived in Berlin, we visited the wonderful Berlin Zoo frequently. One dark winter day, Dennis and I were there with the kids. I had Baby Isaac in a carrier on my chest, and I was wearing a cape that went over both of us.

The wind became very sharp, and I tried to keep my back to it to shelter Isaac. Then sleet came shooting through the air, and the wolves began howling. It was such an eerie sound that I imagine that even the pedestrians outside the zoo shivered and walked a little faster when they heard it. We decided to cut that visit short and go home.

Another day at the Berlin zoo, it rained right after we arrived. I had packed some sandwiches, so we went to the monkey house and had lunch on the bench in front of the orangutan's cage. We spent most of an hour there, watching and being watched by an amazingly human-like creature. To this day, I have an affection for orangutans.

At the Berlin Zoo, the tigers had a big outdoor enclosure that was connected to their inside cage. When we visited the tiger house one day, they were outside. We were walking down a long hallway, talking about other things, when a tiger's huge head suddenly appeared in a porthole right beside little Keely. We saw his long, yellow fangs. Even though he was behind glass, his sudden appearance gave us a fright that we won't ever forget. When we looked at him again outside, we saw that the porthole was on the back wall of his pen.

I had another memorable experience yesterday at the Nashville Zoo. When we visited the giraffes, two were standing at the back of their little pasture, but one male was taking a close look at the people. I spoke to him, and he stretched his neck out and looked right at me. I talked to him for several minutes and took some pictures of him.

Keely and Taurus had moved to the other side of the little building, so Isaac and I walked over there. We were telling them how the giraffe had given us his attention, when the giraffe saw us, left the other people, and rejoined us. So we talked to him a little while longer. It was an interesting experience. It's pleasant to imagine that he knew we liked him.

It was Keely's idea to go to the zoo yesterday. She will remember this trip as the time that a dragonfly sat on her hand. Isaac will remember that the little donkey thought his hand tasted like salt. I think Taurus will remember the reptile house. It was a nice day.

A few more photos:
Jungle gym
Leopard 2
Meerkats 2

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Homeless Gnomes

Waiting for a garden of their own

I'm a softie for gnomes, because they remind me of German gardens. I own a couple of gnome musicians from Germany whom I do not allow to go outside. They content themselves with playing gnomish flute and concertina music for a garden of houseplants.

The gnomes in the photo are living at Hobby Lobby in very cramped quarters. Some of them look a bit anemic. They need a better home and garden -- you should adopt them! Well, a few of them, at least. Don't be like the lady with 200 gnomes in her front garden. Even with garden gnomes, moderation is good.

Related post:
Gnome gardener"Gnomes in the News" includes a photo of one of my gnome musicians.

Gnome game:
10 Gnomes -- Flash puzzle. Zoom in and hunt for the gnome any place the cursor changes to a hand. Zoom out by clicking in the "go back" area at the bottom of the screen. Oh, you can waste some time here.

More gnomes in the news:
"Gnome Sweet Gnome"

Friday, August 29, 2008

Indelible Image

Frozen in time

I remember a slim young woman at a subway (U-bahn) station in Berlin, Germany. She was one of several dozen strangers who were standing along the tracks, waiting for the train. When it rolled into the station, she ran lightly through the doors of one of the cars. How fresh and free she looked.

Little Keely was clutching one of my hands, and I had a folded umbrella stroller in my other hand. Baby Isaac was in a carrier on my chest, and my bag of necessaries was over my shoulder. Laden as I was, I admired the nimble, easy way the young woman moved and the swirl of her skirt as she turned. "I used to be like that," I thought. "I'll be like that again," (I was indulging in a moment of fantasy.)

By now, the girl in my mind is about the age I was when I saw her. I'm sure time has changed her, but in my mind's eye, she's still young, slender, and very quick and graceful. I've thought of her many times.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Palm Sunday Stories

Palms and processionals

Palm Sunday crosses

Palm Sunday was celebrated this morning across the Christian world. In my church, the little crosses above were given to the worshipers as part of the observance.

Each little cross is made from a folded palm leaflet. We carry them into the sanctuary in a procession that represents Jesus's arrival at Jerusalem. (As you probably remember, the people greeted him carrying palm branches and shouting "Hosanna!")

Woven palm fronds in La Paz

The palm crosses and the procession at our church always bring to mind a couple of Palm Sundays spent far from home, years ago.

In 1981, we were teaching school in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and we were traveling over our Easter vacation. We spent Palm Sunday in La Paz, Bolivia. That morning, in the oldest part of La Paz around la Iglesia de San Francisco (the St. Francis Church), Aymara vendors were selling palm leaves to the churchgoers.

The leaflets of each palm leaf were loosely woven into several square shapes, so each leaf looked like a stem that had sprouted a series of miniature mats. I bought several of those palm leaves, and I still have them. They're not green anymore, of course, but they're still interesting. (UPDATE: I had always imagined the woven palm fronds to be a South American custom, but I learned this morning that even Pope Benedict XVI carried a woven palm frond on Palm Sunday.)

Palm Sunday procession in Germany

I also remember the Palm Sunday of 1988 in West Germany. We were living in a little Bavarian village called Kleinwallstadt am Main. I read in the free German newspaper that everyone who was in the Palm Sunday parade should meet at a certain place.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I decided that little Keely and I should go and watch. The parade turned out to be a procession, led by the priest. A brass ensemble was next, and dozens of worshippers followed. They walked through the streets to the church, accompanied by stirring music.

I think Keely and I were the only observers. Everyone else was participating. I took Keely home, feeling rather lonely and left-out.

By the next Palm Sunday, we had been transferred to Berlin. There, I began taking Keely to an English-speaking Lutheran Sunday School, and to make a long story very short, that is how we came to be Lutherans (LCMS) today. God, in His wisdom and in His time, brought us to a Bible-teaching church that was right for us.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Playground Diva Remembered

Life in DOD housing, Berlin, 1990

Here's little Keely, all ready for a clown birthday party at Rachel's house. I think this photo was taken during the summer of 1990.

We were living in military housing in Berlin, Germany. The Army had rented a German apartment building that we shared with 13 other military and Department of Defense (DOD) civilian families.

We were in Berlin for the Army-Air Force Exchange System (AAFES, the PX people.) Other civilians in our apartment building included another AAFES family and the family of a teacher who worked at the DOD school.

Most of the other families in the building were military. Most of them had little children, so it was fortunate that the backyard had some playground equipment and a sandbox.

Some of the wives worked, but several of the wives stayed home with their young children. There were children in the backyard during most of the daylight hours, and Keely loved to go out and socialize.

Rachel (the one who had the clown party) was the alpha female of the playground. She was 7 years old, going on 30, and big for her age. When she barked, everyone jumped. She decided who was shunned and who was accepted. She could cuss fluently, and she knew all the facts of life and then some. Her parents smiled and said, "Well, that's Rachel."

I worried about Rachel being a bad example for Keely. Because of our living situation, we saw Rachel just about every day all summer long. There was really no way to avoid her. She was on the playground from daybreak to dusk. I was really glad when school started again and she was gone for part of the day.

Rachel would be about 25 years old now. I'm sure that she is still running things, wherever she is.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Die-Hard Coffee Quaffer

Another Trip Down Memory Lane... Life in Germany... Life in Bolivia...

Cup of CoffeeEvery coffee drinker has a little story about when and why he/she started drinking coffee.

Here is my story. I attended a parochial boarding school during my high school years. The school had strict rules and policies that were heavily influenced by Mennonite thinking (at that time).

In such a restrictive place, small privileges were treats. Students were allowed to have a cup of coffee at breakfast -- so I had one. It wasn't very good-tasting coffee, but I drank it anyhow, and that is how I became a coffee drinker.

Except for two years in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where I drank hot tea, I've been a coffee drinker ever since -- over forty years now.

I drank hot tea when we lived in Bolivia because I couldn't stand the coffee there. Believe it or not, everyone drank instant Nescafé, imported from Brazil. They took a cup of boiling water and thickened it with sugar and Nescafé to make a black syrup. Ugh. No matter how I mixed it, I didn't like it.

In Germany, I learned to drink coffee with cream in the hotel restaurant, while we were waiting to move into our first apartment. The coffee was too strong to drink black, but it was delicious with a slosh of rich, sweet cream from the pitcher that was delivered with the coffee.

To this day, I still make strong coffee and top it off with skim milk. (I can't drink all that cream without getting fat, and besides, I'm supposed to watch my cholesterol.) I've never liked sugar in either coffee or tea, not even iced tea, which makes me a bit of an oddity here in Kentucky.

I recently bought a new coffee pot. It's retro in appearance, and it makes a nice chugging sound while it perks. My brother commented that it sounds like an old-time John Deere tractor.

I also have a stove-top percolator , so I can make coffee in just about any circumstance. I've used it on the woodstove when we lost power during ice storms, and I use it on the camp stove when we go to the lake. I could even make coffee with a campfire if necessary.

How about you? Are you a coffee drinker?

Coffee percolator
Related posts:
Enjoy Your Coffee
Coffee Is Good For You

Seen on a refrigerator magnet:
"Coffee! You can sleep when you're dead!"

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Names for the Wind

Life In Germany... Life In Bolivia...

In Germany, a strong cold wind from the northeast was called a Siberian. (That is, it was called a German word that translates as Siberian.)

In Bolivia, a strong cold wind from the Antarctic was called a surazo but that word didn't make the following list of names for winds at Wikipedia. The word was probably brought to Bolivia by Spanish settlers as sirocco.

And many of us know that, "...they call the wind Maria!" (pronounced Mariah, rhyming with pariah, and I think the original artist was Vaughn Monroe.)

Maria blows the stars around and sets the clouds a-flyin'.
Maria makes the mountains sound like folks was out there dyin'.

Maria. (Maria).
Maria. (Maria).
They call the wind Maria.

But enough with sing-alongs. Let's get back to the list of names for the wind...

  • Abroholos (squall frequent wind that occurs from May through August between Cabo de Sao Tome and Cabo Frio on the coast of Brazil)
  • Alizé (northeasterly across central Africa and the Caribbean)
  • Alizé Maritime (a wet, fresh northerly wind across west central Africa)
  • Amihan (northeasterly wind across the Philippines)
  • Bayamo (a violent wind on Cuba's southern coast)
  • Bora (northeasterly from eastern Europe to northeastern Italy)
  • Chinook (warm dry westerly off the Rocky Mountains)
  • Etesian (Greek name) or Meltemi (Turkish name) (northerly across Greece and Turkey)
  • Föhn (warm dry southerly off the northern side of the Alps and the North Italy)
  • Fremantle Doctor (afternoon sea breeze from the Indian Ocean which cools Perth, Western Australia during summer)
  • Gilavar (south wind in the Absheron Peninsula)
  • Gregale (northeasterly from Greece)
  • Habagat (southwesterly wind across the Philippines)
  • Harmattan (dry northerly wind across central Africa)
  • Halny (in northern Carpathians)
  • Khamsin (southeasterly from north Africa to the eastern Mediterranean)
  • Khazri (cold north wind in the Absheron Peninsula)
  • Kosava (strong and cold southeasterly season wind in Serbia)
  • Levanter (easterly through Strait of Gibraltar)
  • Libeccio (southwesterly towards Italy)
  • Marin (south-easterly from Mediterranean to France)
  • Minuano (southern Brazil)
  • Mistral (cold northerly from central France and the Alps to Mediterranean)
  • Nor'easter (a strong storm with winds from the northeast in the eastern United States, especially New England)
  • Nor'wester (A wind that brings rain to the West Coast of New Zealand, and warm dry winds (and bad tempers for some) to the East Coast of New Zealand.)
  • Pampero, (Argentina), (very strong blows in the PAMPA)
  • Santa Ana winds (southern California)
  • Simoom (strong, dry, desert wind that blows in the Sahara, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and the desert of Arabia)
  • Sirocco (southerly from north Africa to southern Europe)
  • Solano This is another name for the Levanter
  • Southerly Buster (rapidly arriving low pressure cell that dramatically cools Sydney, Australia during summer)
  • Tramontane (cold northwesterly from the Pyrenees or northeasterly from the Alps to the Mediterranean, similar to Mistral)
  • Vendavel (westerly through Strait of Gibraltar)
  • Zonda wind (on the eastern slope of the Andes in Argentina)


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Gnomes in the News

Life in Germany... Some Interesting News...

I heard a story on Fox News this morning about a garden gnome theft at Keller, TX. In order to answer the call about the theft, police abandoned the idea of investigating a pickup truck without lights that had just run a stop sign. As it turns out, this pickup was probably driven by the thieves, making a sneaky get-away with the stolen gnomes.

Garden gnome moundThis gives me a reason to post a photo of the largest garden gnome settlement I've ever observed. These little fellows lived in a garden near our apartment on Heinersdorfer Str. in (West) Berlin. I took the photo in the spring of 1991. (Do you think this display hints at obsession?)

I'd never seen garden gnomes around the various neighborhoods (central USA, Bolivia) where I'd lived before we went to Germany, so I was quite amused by them when I saw them in German gardens. A little garden and hardware store on Heinersdorfer Str. had a prominent display of gnomes in their window and I often stopped with Keely and Isaac (who were very little then) to admire them in the window.

German gnomeKnowing that I wanted gnomes of my own, Dennis took Keely to the hardware store on a couple of occasions and had her choose a gnome that she thought Mom wanted. One of them is pictured at right. He's ceramic and I'm still fond of him, so I don't let him go outside. He might get broken (or turn up missing, you know.)

Usually, he sits with my houseplants, but for this photo, I moved him to a less distracting background. He has a gnome comrade who plays a concertina (a mini accordian-like instrument) to help provide soothing music for the houseplants to grow by.

Sometime since the early 90's, gnomes have migrated in great numbers to the New World and I've even seen a few in Hopkinsville, KY.

Garden gnomes are versatile little creatures capable of much more than horticulture. A high school German teacher in Lancaster County, PA, uses gnomes to give her German IV students practice in written and conversational German. Students are required to write a series of essays (in German) about their experiences with their gnomes, and they seem to enjoy the learning experience.

Senior Hayli Cingle said her gnome, "Anna," will accompany her on a college visit next week. "I've got to ask my gnome what it thinks," Hayli said.

Hayli said having a gnome and talking about it regularly in German has increased her vocabulary. "It definitely has kept me in a German frame of mind," Hayli said.

Source: "Sprechen sie gnome?" by Madelyn Pennino in the Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, PA), posted to web on Feb 10, 2007
The above story was one of the nicer ones about gnomes in a Google news search. Too many are about "gnome-napping" which does not amuse me. It is simply theft with a cute name.


I originally published this post with the title, "Gnomes in the Gnews," but I had to change it! That corny misspelling hurt my eyes every time I looked at it!

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How about you? Are there any gnomes around your home or garden?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

February Blues

Life in Christian County, Kentucky...

February bluesWaiting for spring

I read once about the buffalo in Yellowstone. Before the spring thaw finally starts, they wait, wait, wait for the snow to melt and the grass to grow again. The last weeks of winter are the very hardest for them because they are weakened by what they've already endured and they're very thin and hungry.

Our circumstances in Kentucky are not nearly that dire, but we're waiting for spring and warmer weather with eagerness because we want to put away our winter coats.

Years ago, when we moved to Germany from the Kansas City area, we were accustomed to some snow and cold weather in winter. When winter in Germany came, we put on our heavy warm coats and wore them everywhere as people of the colder latitudes do in winter.

We had become friends with a young married couple from Kentucky. It seemed odd that Doug and Rita never wore their warm coats even if they had them in the backseat of the car. They were always running across the parking lots, shivering in just their sweaters. I asked Rita one day why they never wore their coats. She laughed and said she guessed it was the Kentucky way.

Now I understand why she said that. The temperatures are often in the 40's on winter days here -- sometimes even warmer. It's usually easy to go from the car to the store with just your sweater. Lately though, we're lucky if the temperature is above freezing even in the middle of the day. I've had to wear my big coat a lot, and I'm sure tired of it.

You'd never dream that I grew up where the winters were long, cold and snowy. After 15 years in Kentucky, I whine right along with everyone else every time we get just a little taste of real winter.


On February 10th a year ago, I wrote about "Living With A Well." I am so thankful that we finally got county water last summer.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ghosts of Christmas Past (12)

Three Kings Day -- Heilege Drei Könige

Today was the 12th day of Christmas, tonight is "Twelfth Night" and this is my 12th and final "Christmas Ghosts" post. Tomorrow, the celebration of Christmas ends, and the celebration of Epiphany begins in many Christian churches of the West.

Epiphany commemorates (among other things) the Magi's visit to the young child, Jesus, and in Germany, the first Sunday in Epiphany is even called "Three Kings" -- Heilige Drei Könige.

There is an old German custom that costumed boys go from house to house on the eve of Epiphany, carrying water and incense blessed by the priest. They sing carols and solicit treats for themselves and donations for charities. They are the Star Singers -- Sternsänger.

Someone from the group may walk through the house with incense to rid it of evil, write the initials "CMB" (for the traditional names of the Wise Men: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) and the number for the new year over the front door ("20 CMB 07"), sprinkle some water, and say a little prayer asking for protection for the house.

I didn't know anything about this custom when the costumed children in the photo at right knocked on my door. It was January 5, 1988, and we were living in the little Bavarian village of Kleinwallstadt (literally translated "Small Barrier City") on the Main River near Frankfort, Germany.

It was easy to see that these boys were dressed as the Wise Men, and it seemed that I should offer them some cookies and leftover candy canes in exchange for the little song they sang to me. I did so, and they accepted. If they were collecting coins, I didn't realize that. They were pleased to pose for the snapshot. We exchanged a few sentences of German and English and then they went on their way, on down the street.

Curious about whether I had responded correctly by feeding my visitors, I later questioned my German neighbors and read more about the custom in my trusty guidebooks to Germany. I guess I may have missed my chance to have our house cleansed, marked, and blessed. I really don't know if they had incense and water with them or not.

These boys in their kingly costumes are probably in their early thirties now, but they're forever young in my memory and in my photo of them -- young and enjoying their costumed caroling adventure!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ghosts of Christmas Past (6)

Another Trip Down Memory Lane... Life In Germany...

Downtown Berlin at ChristmasDowntown Berlin at Christmas, about 1988

The largest city that I've ever lived in is Berlin, Germany. We went to West Berlin in 1988 with my husband's job in the Army-Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), and by the time we left in 1991, Germany and the city of Berlin had been reunified and most of the infamous Berlin wall had been torn down.

It's interesting to me that in 1990, just a year before we moved to Kentucky, Berlin's population was 3,433,695 (East and West Berlin combined) and the entire state of Kentucky's population was 3,685,296.

Band at a Berlin Christmas marketA band at the Zehlendorf
Christmas market in Berlin
We lived in a part of Berlin called Zehlendorf. I'm sure it was once a little town that was gradually swallowed up by the metropolis. Zehlendorf had its own business district and they had a Christmas market (Weihnachtsmärkt) in December, much like those we had seen in the little villages of Bavaria.

For the Christmas market, streets were closed to traffic. Merchants set up tents and booths and sold all sorts of Christmas crafts, gifts, baking ingredients, and holiday decorations. Sausages and bratwursts, gingerbreads, and other holiday goodies were sold by vendors, most notably the spicy gluhwein (glowing wine,) served hot to warm cold fingers and toes. Children could ride a carousel or even a little pony.

Shepherd at the Christmas marketShepherd at the Christmas
market animal exhibit
The Christmas market photos at left were taken near the Paulus Gemeindehaus, a community center owned by the Zehlendorf Lutheran church. We felt very much at home at the Gemeindehaus because our church, the American Church in Berlin, used the building on Sundays for Sunday School classes.

The shepherd was watching over a little pen of sheep. Keely was a preschooler, just the right size to be fascinated by the sight of real sheep. I remember we stood by the sheep pen for a very long time before she finally had seen enough of them. Before we went home, I bought a carved rolling pin for making springerle, a souvenir of the Zehlendorf Weihnachtsmärkt which I have to this day.

While I was writing this post, I looked for the website of the American Church in Berlin (ACB) and learned that it no longer meets at the historic Alte Dorfkirche, just down the street from the Paulus Gemeindehaus. They've moved to a much larger church that's closer to the center of Berlin, near the area where the church was located before World War II.

I'm happy for the American Church, both because it has grown and because it has better facilities, but I enjoy my memories of the old village church in Zehlendorf. Worshiping in that historic Christian meeting house and attending Sunday School in the Paulus Gemeindehaus helped me feel like Zehlendorf was my home too.

The last Christmas we spent in Berlin, I sewed a dozen angel costumes for the ACB Sunday School Christmas program. I tried to make them sturdy so they'd last a long time. I hope they're still in use at the new church this Christmas.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Ghosts of Christmas Past (1)

Life In Germany...

Twenty years ago, Dennis, I, and little Keely (1 year old) had been in West Germany for a few weeks. We had been sent to the army post at Aschaffenburg by my husband's employer, the Army-Air Force Exchange Service, and we were staying in a hotel waiting for our apartment to become available and our shipment of household goods to arrive.

Dennis was working evenings so he got back to the hotel from work about 1 a.m. I tried to keep Keely on a similar schedule so we could all get some sleep. If she woke up before Dennis was awake in the morning, I hustled her out of the room and we went for a walk for a while.

German rooftopsThe photo at left shows the view from our hotel window. Though you wouldn't guess from this photo, it was a nice gasthaus at the edge of a little Bavarian village, and there were sheep in a pasture just over the back fence.

Breakfast was provided. The first morning that we ate there, I thought the huge slabs of butter were slices of cheese. Dennis learned to properly crack open the top of an egg and eat it out of its shell as it stood in its little egg cup. I was too revolted by the extremely soft-cooked state of the yolks to eat them. However, I quickly learned to love German coffee laced with cream.

I kept some snacks for Keely in our room, and she and I usually went downstairs to the restaurant in the evening for a hot meal. People stared at the American woman and her toddler because they didn't usually bring their one-year-olds to restaurants. There weren't any high-chairs, but we managed.

One of my main pastimes besides entertaining Keely was learning a few words of German. I had a dictionary, so I made flashcards for myself and filled a notebook with lists of words that I might need. I also tried to translate the newspaper. I had much better luck understanding the advertisements than the news stories.

As soon as our apartment became available, we borrowed a few items from my husband's co-workers and a couple of beds from Military Housing and set up camp. We were very grateful to get out of the hotel room!

I bought some Christmas presents for Keely, but I don't think Dennis and I exchanged any gifts that year. Our Christmas gift was our shipment of household goods that arrived on December 23. Finally, we could make a home again.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.