Saturday, July 31, 2010

Congratulations to the New Couple and my Condolences to the Groom

Or maybe should I tell Mr. Mezvinsky 'May the force be with you'. Oy gevalt, while most of us find our mothers-in-law intimidating, imagine having Hillary Rodham Clinton as a  MIL.    I would love to witness that Thanksgiving Dinner. Picture Hillary taking a very deliberate yet ladylike bite of some turkey, white meat of course, and... oh, wait, no... imagine her deftly disemboweling a snail (escargot anybody) and ever so casually ask her nervous son-in law when exactly his father was released from jail. Picture it? You got it? Makes your Thanksgiving dinner seem almost relaxed now, huh?

Don't get me wrong, we all have skeletons in our closets. But only one lucky man can call himself  son-in-law to Hillary Rodham Clinton. I am convinced she took private lessons from Margaret Thatcher.  It takes a courageous man, and a man truly in love to deal with this new family.

I wish them, as I would really any newlywed couple, all the very best, I am sure the gifts were great, the food fabulous and may the weather co-operate on their honeymoon. And, most of all may you be one of the statistically few whose marriage lasts a life time.  Take the good and the bad. Accept your imperfection so that you may also accept your partner's. Make sure you have some good friends you can call when your partner drives you crazy and you want someone to talk you out of murder by frying pan, ice-pick, snowshovel or any other violent means. And what's more, in their case, may you be wise enough to know who you can trust not to run to the tabloids with it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Famous Birthdays - Beatrix Potter

Chances are, when you were little, someone read to you the Tales of Peter Rabbit amongst other Beatrix Potter books. But how much do you know about the author?

Beatrix Potter was born on July 28, 1866 in South Kensington England. She was the only daughter of heirs to a cotton fortune and lived a quiet and solitary childhood. As was customary among monied society back then she was primarily cared for by a nurse or nanny. Little Beatrix would kiss her parents goodnight and see them perhaps in the morning. But the majority of the time was spent attended by the hired help. When Beatrix turned 6 her mother had another child. Beatrix's little brother was called Bertram. They were homeschooled and raised together by nannies and governesses. When Bertram was old enough he left for boarding school as was customary then while Beatrix remained behind to continue her education with a succession of various governesses. The children would go on long summer vacations, usually to Scotland where she discovered her deep love for nature. Beatrix and Bertram Potter loved to sketch and draw what they observed. Beatrix never lost her love for nature and loved making up stories about the animals she observed. When she was 27 she sent one such illustrated stories to the sick child of one of her former governesses. The story was about four little bunnies. Can you guess the names? They were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and of course the unforgettable Peter. That illustrated story was such a great success that she decided to have it privately published. It was published as The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1900. Two years later is was published commercially by the Frederick Warne & Company followed by 22 additional books over the next 20 years. The books were small, designed to be held by little hands and featured an easy to understand prose.

Beatrix became engaged to Norman Warne (the son of one of her publishers) in 1905 despite parental opposition. After his sudden death a few months later, Beatrix found herself spending much of her time alone at Hill Top, a small farm in an English Village. She married William Heelis in 1913 and spent the last 30 years of her life breeding Herdwick Sheep and illustrating and writing her books. Upon her death on December 22, 1943 she bequeathed the farm to the National Trust. The farm is still as it was when she lived in it.

Sources: Wikipedia and (a lovely site)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Playing with Google Maps and feeling a pang of longing. / Sehnsucht nach Deutschland

Missy and I love maps. We love playing with them and exploring. And therefore we love, no, adore Google maps. Especially the feature that lets you see satellite images, photos and explore. Would you like to visit Venice? Or maybe Paris. How about a trip through Athens. Or maybe something off the beaten path. Oh, no money, honey? Well, go to the library, grab some travelogues and sit by your computer and pull up the streetviews of these cities. We did just that and more. I visited the town I grew up in. It's called Wahlwies. Well, we moved a lot and that was a town where I lived for almost 8½ years.

Anyway, I found a number of pictures that brought back so many memories but the two I wanted to post and share are these. The first one is the view as I used to see it from my bedroom window. Or Kinderzimmer Fenster. Of course the trees have grown a lot but this was it. It was beautiful no matter what time of the year. The second picture is of an area at the local stream similar to one where my friend Cordula (still lives there) and I spent hours playing. The creek is called 'Die Aach' which isn't saying much because there are countless streams in Germany called 'Aach'.

Of course this all brought back my postcard memories of Germany. I call them the postcard memories because they deal with the beauty and happiness of childhood and carefree living rather than the reality of being an adult with responsibilities. But one thing is for sure, Germany, like much of Europe enjoys a slower life quite unlike the American production and achievement driven lifestyle. So when I see pictures of this town and other surrounding towns I enjoy memories of riding my bicycle with my friends to G├╝ttingen to swim in the ponds. Or to Orsingen to enjoy the chlorinated pleasures of the municipal swimming pool.  It brings back memories of my school (Pestalozzi Waldorf Schule Wahlwies) and the yearly Bazaar which we all so enjoyed and loved. It brings back memories of carefree days hiking with my friends or alone in the woods behind our house.

What brings back your picture postcard memories and to where do they belong?

In response to Eva's question as to the clear images I am posting part of a a screenshot of  google maps.