Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Monday, December 29, 2008

Winged Balloon Stampede

When you combine wings and balloons, what do you get?

I plan to attend this event!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Poem

Notice the little clay hedgehog in the circle of animals around Jesus' manger. I picked him up at a German flohmarkt (flea market). He reminds me of a stanza from the Anglican hymn -- "All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all."


To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

--G.K. Chesterton

--Painting is in the Speyer Dom

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Murphy

Murphy and his household wish you all a very merry Christmas Eve. May your holidays be full of joy and candy canes. And furry beasties in Santa Claus hats.

*picture taken by Anna

Thursday, December 18, 2008

English Toffee

Here's a scrumptious English Toffee recipe that I've made often. Don't ask about the number of calories though; you don't want to know! It's amazingly easy and a good gift for the holiday season:


Ingredients --

1 pound butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups chopped almonds
12 oz. chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Stir butter and sugar in large pan over high heat until melted.
Cook and stir constantly until toffee is very smooth and a medium to dark golden brown (about 10 minutes).
Add almonds and cook 1 minute longer. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO BURN IT!
Spread immediately in 13 X 9 X 2 buttered pan or on cookie sheet.
Cool 5 minutes and sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
As chips melt, smooth the surface with a spatula and then sprinkle chopped walnuts on top.
Cool in the fridge.
After toffee is solid, knock (I use a knife to pry it) from the pan and break into pieces.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Mannheim Weihnachtsmarkt

Jeff and I wandered around the booths, looking for gifts and tryng the food. This Christmas market wasn't as crowded as the Heidelberg one.

Lots of pretty lights at night! Santa Claus is sampling the Glühwein -- hot red wine with a mix of cinnamon and other spices. Perfect for the cold.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Can't Wait

In less than an hour, we're leaving to hear "The Messiah" performed at Mark Twain Chapel in Heidelberg. I can't wait! This music epitomizes the start of the entire Christmas season for me.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Amazing Race Finale in Oregon

The final episode of the Amazing Race aired last night on CBS television and it was filmed in Oregon! Even better, they shot the "high adventure" challenge at Camp Tilikum, where my sister Beth and daughter Danielle both worked. "Some of the challenge course elements are attached to 100-year-old Douglas Fir trees as high as 120 feet off the ground," according to the camp's website.

After negotiating the Tilikum ropes course and then a zipline at Bridge of the Gods, the three Amazing Race teams swooped into downtown Portland for their last clues. The teams received one clue at Voodoo Doughnut, my favorite donut shop in the entire earth, universe, and solar system. I'm looking forward to visiting there myself, as soon as we move back.

*Photo from Tilikum website

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Market Square In Marrakesh

A view of the main market at night. We ate dinner at one of the restaurants surrounding the square, with an unobstructed view of the swarm of activity and noise down below. This included: whirling dervishes, cobra charmers, women doing henna hand painting, men with monkeys, little kids selling cigarettes, and many other small businesses.

Some of the infinite varieties of dried fruits and nuts available--walnuts, almonds, sugared and salted peanuts, figs, apricots, a wealth of dates (dried, fresh, regular and gourmet, fat, slender, you name it).

If you can't tell, this booth is selling cooked snails. The huge basin in the middle is brim-full of snails still in their shells and customers sit around the sides of the booth to be served. Don't know if garlic butter is supplied or not.

**Click on the photo if you want to see more details.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Guide Us By Your Grace

Jeff got a job offer from a company in Vancouver, Washington and replied with a "yes" last week. So we're moving to the NW at the end of January! I'm excited to be so near family again, but at the same time, will miss many people here in Germany. Especially our small group and some writing buddies and other friends I've made.

This song is becoming my prayer for the days ahead...not just for me and my family, but for you too, if you're in the midst of any transitions.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

In Marrakesh

I love the colors in these carpets. No one drugged our mint tea and tried to steal our money in the carpet stores (contrary to a few dire warnings I'd received regarding Moroccan merchants).

The light, the light. Made it easier to take good photos, that's for sure.

Don't you feel sorry for the poor horse?

Monday, December 01, 2008

None Of That Fake Eyeliner (Murphy Monday)

You can see why we sometimes tease Murphy about wearing Cleopatra eyeliner. Except that his eye decor is the natural-born kind. Lucky dog.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's That Time Of Year

Things are starting to look festive around here! These photos were taken a few weeks ago in Colmar. The Christmas markets in Germany will be up and running soon, and I'll try and post more pictures then.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Some Thoughts on Obama

On November 5th, I woke in Germany to our clock radio playing Barack Obama's acceptance speech for the presidency. Since I voted for Obama, I felt jubilant, relieved, and somber, all at the same time. Jubilant and relieved because I truly think he's the best leader out of the choices presented. And also, somber, because of the many challenges ahead for him.

Here's what Ginger (another blogger I read often) wrote after Obama was elected. Her words are thought-provoking:

"For me, the election of Barack Obama, more than anything, signifies Hope. And it's a hope that can get me choked up; it's so strong I can almost taste it at times when I'm reading through the news.

First of all, as for many, it signifies hope about race issues.

My first memory of race being something negative was when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I remember it vividly. My mom was driving us to church on the island where we lived in Malaysia, and Grandma was in the car. We passed a tourist couple walking along the road, a Black man and a white woman. My mother remarked to Grandma that interracial marriage was not a good thing.

"Why not?" I asked, curious.

Mama got tight-lipped. "It's hard on them and it's hard on the children," she said. "People have enough differences to overcome without dealing with racial differences as well," she said. "And the children don't know where they belong."

"They're just different on the outside, that's all," I blurted, suddenly angry with my mom. Her remarks seemed so unfair.

I don't recall her exact response, but I remember being very aware that my view was not acceptable to her. And I rebelled at that.

I never got over rebelling. I watched biracial kids in my classrooms in California, and they seemed to do just fine. Every example was tucked into my mental file to rebut what my mom had expressed. Somewhere down deep, I felt like it wasn't just the interracial issue, but an issue of my mom seeing Blacks as being of less worth. She never said it, so I don't know if I'm right or not. But emotion that has come out in her remarks over the years has been a curious thing, just as curious as the hot anger that I feel when she or anyone else in my family makes what I perceive to be a racist comment. (Even hearing my uncle refer to Obama as "O-baa-muh"--with the "bam" rhyming with "ram" and "Sam"--leaves me angry. Be respectful enough to pay attention to another culture's pronunciation!) And no, I don't try to correct them.

When I was teaching Social and Multicultural Education in a northern California college, I made the comment to my lecture hall full of students, "The sooner we all intermarry, the better. We've got to get over these racial issues in our society." To my surprise, a former student chatting with me on Facebook recently quoted that back to me, ten years later. "I never forgot that," she said. "I just married an Indian-American man, and I'm so happy with him." I found myself smiling wryly as I responded. I happened to fall in love with a white man, so I've not lived out my declaration. But I still believe it and I'm glad it was helpful to her. My point is not about racial intermarriage to make a statement, but my point is to not let racial issues deter two otherwise-suited people from dating and marrying.

So now we have a new president who is both black and white, "a mutt," as he terms it with no sign of rancor. He is an educated man who seems to be able to think from both identities. I find hope welling up that this will be a benefit to us all in making some changes in our dealings with race issues.

Second, our recent election gives me hope about foreign policy. I am a third culture kid; Barack Obama is a third culture kid. Third culture kids have grown up in cultures that are not those of their parents, and aren't really their own cultures either. They fit in nowhere and they fit in everywhere. Obama has had an opportunity to see what an "ugly American" looks like in other countries. He has crossed cultures and has developed the skills to be a cultural chameleon, to enter other worlds and function according to their unwritten rules and values. While it may look wishy-washy to some Americans, it could be very useful for foreign policy.

I have ached over the foreign policy of my passport (American) culture. When I was a child the United States was at war in Vietnam. I wondered why. When I was in college Ronald Reagan sent U.S. soldiers invade Grenada. My heart sank; I can still remember where I was in the cafeteria when I heard about it. We did, of course, make short work of it; it was the equivalent of squashing a fly with a wrecking ball. Since then I have seen us invade Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan.

Several U.S. Presidents have seemed to consider us as some sort of righteous "police of the world," and it's something I can't understand. There don't seem to be any "righteous guidelines" for when we enter combat in another land, and when we don't. We have figured out no system for leaving once we're there, either. George W. Bush has been the most egregious in this, I believe. The mix of self-righteousness, bully and bouncer has been really hard for me to watch.

And so the election of a president who can see the world from various perspectives gives me hope.

Finally, there are many leaders who have gone through higher education, but not so many who think like educated individuals. For the leader of the United States, I think educated thinking is crucial. As I have listened to Barack Obama speak, I have heard the words and thoughts of a man who is not only Harvard-educated, but is also an educated thinker. Some have been put off by his cool demeanor; it's precisely that cool thinking that we want to have as chief of the military might of this country and leading in the negotiations made with other countries' leaders who may not be as reasonable. I suspect this guy intuitively knows how to play international chess and win.

I'm no dope. I recognize that Obama will say and do things that I will disagree with. He already has. And he may crash and burn at some point. But I hope not. We're asking a lot of him. I pray that he will remain physically safe, and that he will fulfill even a few of these hopes, for the sake of this country."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Now That's My Type Of Gathering

It has been pointed out to me that at New College of Florida, one of the student groups on campus is:

The Ben and Jerry's Devotional Society

Now that's my type of gathering.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Around Athens

This little girl and her Grandma had such fun feeding the pigeons. A nearby vendor was selling bags of old bread crumbs and the number of pigeons got to be a bit scary, I must say.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

I found this on Lorna's blog (see-through faith).

Let's conspire together during Advent!

Olives Here, There, and Everywhere

In Athens, we visited the Central Market and sampled several of their wares. There must have been over thirty types and flavors of olives. I thought these green olives looked especially gorgeous against the container's blue background. The Greeks probably thought I was a bit loony, taking pictures of such a commonplace food, but in my defense, souvenir vendors even tried to sell me silver earrings in the shape of Kalamata olives. I just preferred the photos.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Further Interesting Britishisms

British host to our daughter, who went with a drama group to Zurich International School for a weekend of workshops:

"What's this?" (when Anna presented her with a thank-you gift of a cinnamon candle)

"Oooh, it's a smelly candle! I do love smelly candles!"

**Until now, I'd always associated the word with smelly feet or smelly breath. Eau de pigsty?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Help Save The Children Of Burundi

When I walked into our front yard in Burundi, I'd sometimes find big squares of brown sack-cloth with coffee beans drying on top of them. And then later, I'd smell the coffee beans roasting. What a great aroma. I remember begging Mom and Dad to give me just one cup of coffee...please! They finally promised I could try it when I turned ten years old -- hoping, I think, that I'd forget their promise or eventually lose interest. But when June rolled around, I claimed my cup of caffeine, filled to the brim with strong brew and milk. Good memories.

Here's an easy way to help the children of Burundi while you enjoy a good cup of coffee:

“In Burundi malaria and malnutrition kill more than 23% of all children before they reach the age of five! World Relief is working hard to saturate a community of 243,000 people in central Burundi with simple health messages to prevent these senseless deaths. Volunteers are taught health lessons every two weeks, and they pass along the life-saving information to their neighbors. Due to a generous matching grant, your gift will be matched three times by another donor!”

Simply visit this Web site and purchase a couple bags of coffee. They’ll give 33% of your purchase price to “Save the children of Burundi” and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your coffee not only tastes good, it does good.

I'm thinking this is a good option for Christmas gifts. Yeah?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Made It

Well, I completed the Athens Classic Marathon this past Sunday! Walked it in 7 hours and 5 minutes, 30 seconds. My friends, Kelly and Jan, also finished, along with my other walking partner, Judy. I'll post more pictures later--Jan's husband Dave acted as "official race photographer and encourager."

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Reading At The English Bookstore

Hey, just to let you know, I'll read a few of my poems this Thursday night, 7:30 pm at the English Bookstore, Plöck 93 in Heidelberg. I'm participating as part of the Heidelberg Writers Group -- a group for English-language writers and poets. If you live nearby, come and join us!

Also, one of my poems, "Hyena Ridge," is out this month in Cicada Magazine for teens. Yay! You won't find my poem in the online version, though, just the print one.

Have any of you had good news lately -- writing-related or otherwise?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

French Pastries and Other Edibles

It's easy to visit France from here--less than an hour across the border by car. So last week, we took a brief trip to Colmar. French food is always one of the highlights, for me! Brought home some saucisse croquante (translation: crunchy sausage) from the butcher shop.

Vineyards were harvesting the last of their grapes. Each little village was filled with loads of tourists sampling new wine and snacking on tarte flambee.

But bakeries are the best part of any French excursion. In this photo, I only captured a third of all the pastries displayed. Works of art, all of them.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ghoulish Recipes

Since it is October 31st, thought some folks might be in the mood for Shrunken Heads in Cider.

Otherwise, you could try the Brain Cupcakes or the Ladies' Fingers and Men's Toes.
Finish off with Bat Cookies.


The Murphster wishes you a very Happy and Haunted Halloween. He's feeling rather grave, as his neck is festooned with garish black and green skeletons, and he'd rather be chewing a milkbone or chasing the neighborhood black cat.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Travel Oregon

Here's a fun photo-link for 365 days in Oregon.
Click on the individual photos to learn about different activities and places to visit. The page takes a bit of time to load, but it's worth it!

Random Fact of the Day

Random fact of the day -- from Anna:

"Zebras can be domesticated, but they have a violent side. Also, they're skittish."

Who knew?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Photo Blogging--From Two Continents

Brandon lives in Burundi and Leah lives in Vancouver. They've never met (except in cyberspace), but decided to start a photoblog: Leah Meets Brandon. For the next 12 months, they'll take pictures of their daily lives according to a monthly theme and post several times a week.

If you know me at all, you know that I love photographs and I love Burundi--so this is an irresistible combination! I'm curious to see what happens with Leah and Brandon's blog over the course of a year.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Garmisch Scenes

A few fall scenes from last week in Garmisch. Jeff had to work at the Marshall Center, so I drove down and spent a few nights with him. We celebrated our 26th anniversary last week too!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

In Search of Jubilee

Just found a good article about the band, Ten Shekel Shirt. If you go there, be sure and read the last three paragraphs--about the 16 year old girl at a safe home in Thailand.

I think God calls us to not just think justice is "cool," but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly. -- Hiebert (founder of Love 146 and member of Ten Shekel Shirt)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Playing Around With Words

Wordle is a site where you create "word clouds" from any type of text that you input. Then you can change font, colors, and layout...the possibilities go on and on.

Do you like how this Hopkins poem, "God's Grandeur," turned out? Try it yourself!

I found out about Wordle via Editrix.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Foraging is elevated to the level of a fine art here in Germany. In Oregon, I occasionally saw people in the woods picking blackberries or wild huckleberries to take home. But I've moved to a country where no fruit or vegetable goes to waste, as long as it's growing in an accessible spot.

Tonight, walking the farm roads, I saw a woman in the carrot fields where a harvester had finished up. She was walking painstakingly back and forth, searching for bits the machine had missed. Yesterday, I passed a man up in a chestnut tree, searching for ripe nuts. He'd filled his basket almost to the brim. Walnuts are in season too, and I've seen families out gathering those together.

I like this trait--in fact, it reminds me of my Grandma Brose, who tended a garden well into her eighties. She'd stir-fry kale and other vegetables for me whenever I visited their retirement village. I know Grandma would be up the ladder plucking chestnuts with the best of them, if she were alive and visiting me in Deutschland today.

Monday, October 06, 2008

In His Arms

This is a postcard I received many years ago from friends of mine in France. The combination of words and image stayed with me. So when I found their card again yesterday, thought I'd post it for you too.

Translation from the French:

"He will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom." Isaiah 40:11

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Did 18 miles today in preparation for the walking marathon in Athens this November. Now I'm off to soak both feet in some lovely-smelling lavender mint bath salts a friend gave me.

She warned me not to take a bath in the salts, just use them for feet -- the first time she made them, her husband poured the stuff in a hot bath and climbed in, only to leap out a few seconds later --"Is this supposed to sting so badly?!" -- as the mint saturated his skin.

Ha ha, I can see myself doing the same thing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Words I Love / Laugh At / Enjoy

Winkle -- As in, "We'll just winkle that oyster right out of its shell." -- mainly British.

Earbob -- I heard someone from the South refer to their earring as an "earbob" -- great word!

Noggin -- As in, "Get that through your noggin, kiddo."

Frabjous, beamish-- See Lewis Carroll's poem, "Jabberwocky," for more inventive words.

Cobalt -- Interesting fact: the name "Cobalt blue" comes from Middle High German kobolt = an underground goblin (cobalt was thought to be detrimental to silver ores).

Glimmer, shimmer --I like the sounds of these words.

Gnarled -- Ditto.

Flim-flam -- "Don't let the flim-flam man sell you a gold watch..."

Belly button -- Innie or outie?

Dingle -- "The night above the dingle starry" -- from Fern Hill

Snickerdoodle -- Mmm, nothing like snickerdoodles hot from the oven.

Quicksilver -- Originally referred to mercury, the only metal that's liquid at room temperatures.

For more, go to
And in the comments section, tell me some of your favorite words, ok?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Orange Chair Saga

I think these are the coolest senior photos I've ever seen!

And of course, it's even better that the Pacific Ocean is part of the backdrop...


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Cathedral

"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral."
--Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Along The Way

Pictures from our 26 kilometer training walk this Saturday:

A Friendly Duck

View Of Heidelberg From Philosopher's Way

Reflections In The Neckar River

Heidelberg Old Town Bridge Gate

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Latest Bicycle Sightings

Caught sight of a man with a white curly beard, a la "Father Christmas," out riding his bicycle tonight. He was holding a wooden pipe as he pedaled past me, and took a few leisurely puffs as he rolled down the lane. He looked quite at home sitting on his Fahrrad, smoking that pipe!

A few weeks ago, right in front of our row house, I saw a mom on a bike, teaching her little girl to ride a training bike. Many folks here ride around with their small dog (or dogs) in a basket attached to the bicycle. So, guess what? This girl had a miniature basket on back, with her own dog riding along...

A plastic German Shepherd.

Wish I'd gotten a picture.

Let's Dance

I posted this yesterday, then found a higher definition video here.

My favorite part is where Matt dances with the women in India. Or with the Huli Wigmen (Papua New Guinea). Or all the little children in different countries. Or any other part.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ichabod Crane

For your viewing pleasure, a photo of Ichabod, the Crested Crane. He lived on our mission station in Burundi and followed us around. I just have a few memories of Ichabod. Here he is, paying a royal visit to our sandbox--that's me in the back and Annie Stewart (with curls) up front.

These birds are beautiful, with a golden corn-tassel type of adornment on top of their heads and striking black, white and red facial features. My photo's not in color, but look here for a glimpse of the Crested Crane's full glory.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Up the Mosel

A few photos from a drive up the Mosel River valley several weeks ago:

We ran into a group of American bicyclists who were cruising the river on a barge and taking day trips ashore. They were mostly in their late sixties and seventies, it appeared--all of them fitted out in spandex gear and cycling shoes. Hope I'm as energetic at that age.

For lunch, we followed a Rick Steves suggestion, and ate at Restaurant Haus Lipmann in Beilstein. Wonderful mushroom soup and an even better view of the water!

The grapes were just ripening, and I couldn't resist plucking one or two (or more). Still plenty left for the wineries and the birds.

ps. Click on the top photo, it's got lots of detail--that's the town of Cochem.