Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Monday, January 29, 2007

Six Weird Things

OK, Betsy tagged me to write six weird things about myself. I had to think about this for awhile, since I can't reveal my full weirdness or you might not come back again. Then again, maybe you'd feel as if you're in good company...

Six things about me:
1. My toes are so long that my brother called me “Monkey Toes” growing up (personally, I think they help me keep my balance – for instance, in standing yoga poses).

2. Growing up, I ate flying ants that we caught outside our house in Burundi and then pan-fried. They were actually pretty good with oil and salt.

3. I spend more time on the computer than my teenage daughter. She thinks this is completely against the natural order of life.

4. Rather than squash spiders, I carry them outside the house and let them go. Don’t ask me how I reconcile this behavior with Fact # 2.

5. I despise Hummers and stretch limousines. But I do like the look of Smart Cars. My nephew, Josiah, laughed hysterically the first time he glimpsed a Smart Car on the German autobahn. That’s when I realized how normal they’d begun to look to me.

6. Sometimes I inadvertently come out with strange words – saying goodnight to Anna, I called her my “Chunkin…” (a mix-up between Chickadee and Punkin). Now we use it as a teasing nickname for each other, despite the image it conjures up of someone chunkier than a pumpkin.

Consider yourself tagged if you read this and haven't already blogged about it. And make sure to put a note in the comments!

Murphy Monday

Isn't he cute? Our weather has been unusually warm for this time of year (this picture was taken three weeks ago). Danielle's been asking to see more pictures of Murphy, so here he is.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I hiked the hills above Heidelberg with a group of women this morning. As a reward for the relatively steep three miles uphill, we ate at a restaurant near the ruins of St. Michael's monastery. The two accompanying dogs came in with us; another thing I like about Germany--dogs are allowed in most restaurants, hotels, and even can get their own ticket (discounted, of course) for trains. Although, I haven't seen here yet what I observed in France: a dog dressed in fancy collar and multiple ribbons, walking in procession with the bride and groom to a wedding.
Saw this poster down at the bottom of the hill and liked it!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Reading Slowly, Dictionary At Hand

A few months ago, I bought a book that I plan to read through, even if it takes me all year. The title: "Über tausend Hügel wandere ich mit dir," by Hanna Jansen -- needless to say, I'll be reading it with my German dictionary close at hand.

The book's now available in English as "Over a Thousand Hills I Walk with You." I'll probably buy the English version to read alongside. Ms. Jansen tells the story of Jeanne, a young girl she and her husband adopted from Rwanda, after Jeanne's family was murdered in the 1994 genocide. The Jansens have eleven other children, most of whom are war orphans.

Noting that her daughter's keen memory made her "a very reliable witness," Jansen remarks that recalling even the positive aspects of her past was painful for Jeanne: "It was hard for her to return to the good memories of her family that, until then, she had split off from herself. To feel what she had lost called up enormous grief in her, which I had to cushion. Sometimes I could only hold her tight, not knowing how to comfort her."

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Well, I got my first hug from one of my German neighbors today. And not from someone I really knew, which was an even bigger surprise to me!

A local package carrier has the habit of dropping one or two parcels off at my house if I happen to be home when a neighbor's out. The local frauenarzt (gynecologist) has his office three doors down from us, in the same rowhouse. Today the package man asked to leave fifteen big packages with me since the office was still closed for lunch, and I agreed. The doctor could hardly believe me when I told him I had fünfzehn packages, and repeatedly thanked me as he hauled them over to his office. Then, after the last trip, he suddenly opened his arms and gave me a big hug, which left me speechless...that's not typically the German way, at least not from my observations so far.

Maybe he's just extra comfortable with women? Or very demonstrative? Huh. It was a bit startling. But also nice.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Zoo Residents

Lazy day in the sunshine. Naptime.

I kept expecting this guy to tell me a joke. He has that amused expression...
Anna liked the elephants--both types.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Angel Faces!

Jeff and I drove Anna to the Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart yesterday. (Yes, I did wonder if I'd run across you there, Betsy) It was a sunny, gorgeous day, and at the very end of the afternoon we watched a sea lion show and feeding. Looking back at my pictures from yesterday, though, I didn't focus on the animals, but on the observers. An entire row of angel faces! Just love their expressions, sandwiched between pink snowflake hats and layers of winter clothing. Makes me want to remember what I enjoyed at this age. Probably climbing trees. How about you?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Staying Awake

It is possible to befriend uncertainty, to remind yourself and others of the fluid, ever-changing nature of things. To remain awake to all possibility.

Rachel Naomi Remen --
from "My Grandfather's Blessings"

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Where Next?

At Piazza Signoria in Florence--by the David statue (a replica of Michelangelo's original)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Words from Katherine Paterson

This morning, I read an interview with Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia and many other books. An excerpt from that interview:

The challenge for those of us who care about our faith and about a hurting world is to tell stories which will carry the words of grace and hope in their bones and sinews and not wear them like fancy dress.

and also:

When a teacher (still a dear friend) of mine in graduate school suggested I ought to be a writer, I was appalled. "I don't want to add another mediocre writer to the world," I said. She helped me (it took years of nudging) to understand that if I wasn't willing to risk mediocrity, I would never accomplish anything. There are simply no guarantees. It takes courage to lay your insides out for people to examine and sneer over. But that's the only way to give what is your unique gift to the world. I have often noted that it takes the thinnest skin in the world to be a writer, it takes the thickest to seek out publication. But both are needed—the extreme sensitivity and the hippo hide against criticism. Send your inner critic off on vacation and just write the way little children play. You can't be judge and creator at the same time.

Wise words.