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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A litte bit of everthing: Regensburg, Montreal and Barrington

I have a few unrelated things I've been wanting to share so I thought I'd just go ahead and do so.

ONE: Jim, Emma and I went to a party Saturday night at Emma's friend Katie's house. The party was for the two German medical students that they are hosting right now (both of Katie's parents are doctors). Katie's Mom thought we'd enjoy meeting them since Jim and I both studied in Germany. So the cool thing was that they are medical students at the University of Regensburg which is where Jim and I met. They were surprised to find anyone who knew where Regensburg was and originally said they were from Munich because it's the nearest "big" place. We enjoyed sharing some Regensburg memories with them and they brought us up to speed on changes and happenings there. It also turns out that the very small town that one of the students grew up in is the town where Jim and I had our first kiss -- Landshut -- our intensive German course group took a field trip there for the weekend! So, small world in many ways and so much fun to talk to "young" people -- turns out they were babies in 1986 when Jim and I met in Regensburg! -- 25 years ago now -- though I can't quite believe that.
Regensburg: The Steinerne Br├╝cke and the Altstadt or Old Town, with the Cathedral dominating the skyline. Yes, it's really that beautiful!
Jim and I as we looked 25 years ago. Taken in front of the Berlin Wall.
TWO: Jim and I had a great trip to Montreal March 16-20th. Neither of us had ever been to Canada, unless you count the Canadian side of Niagara Falls which we both decided didn't count. We were surprised by just how close Montreal actually is to us, it's about the same number of miles away as Baltimore (375 or so), but it's an easier and less congested drive which we made in under six and a half hours with a short detour to drive through Burlington, VT and grab some food. Jim was going up to speak at the International Studies Association Conference and I tagged along with him. It's been about three years since we had a long weekend just the two of us away from home. Needless to say it was a real treat, and great to reconnect with each other. I also particularly enjoyed being in a foreign country and hearing another language without having to fly there for many $$ and suffer jet lag. I could read most of the signs and understand a lot of spoken French, but find it hard to speak in after all these years. I did study French for six years but that was back when we lived in Belgium, more years ago than I want to admit too! I switched to studying German only in 11th grade. Both of us just love walking all over a new city and just getting to know the place -- so most of our photos are just of the sights -- mainly buildings, but I thought I'd share just a few of them.

Checking e-mail on my smart phone and chilling in our room

Jim captured this great shot of old reflected in the new. Saw lots of older architecture blended well with contemporary.

Walking around in the Plateau St. Denis area. I'm carrying the new shopping bag and books we'd just bought. Yes, touring for us includes spending almost an hour in a book store where most of the books were in French!

Loved this add which we saw several places. We also noticed that Montreal has a bit of a graffiti problem
On our way to dinner in the Old Town. Highlight: eating moules frites!

Jim in the old town

Street sculpture -- so European -- at least to me.

Jim taking a photo. For the first time in ages we both had our own camera as I just bought my first digital DSLR. Thus, we have photos of me for a change.

We both can't wait to go back and also to go to Quebec City, now that we see that it's not too far. I was really struck by how the terrain changed when we went from Vermont to Canada -- all of a sudden it seemed that it got very flat and their was farm after farm after farm -- all of them with grain silos with the name of the farm on them. Then all of a sudden we were in Montreal with city and buildings all around and the Mount Royal just jutting up over the city.  We came back on a slightly different route and drove across the bottom of Canada above Vermont and came down through the northeast corner of Vermont and through the Franconia Notch in New Hampshire. On that trip it started out flat and very wet -- in that there are lots and lots of little streams -- then before we crossed over into Vermont it became very mountainous again as we ran back into the Appalachians. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know a new place, reading its history and exploring. So glad we had this chance....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A couple of digital scrapbook layouts, one quick, one not so quick.

I just spent a very happy hour making a quick scrapbook page of Emma's and my trip to the Boston Childrens' Museum and finishing another page I started last night and had a brain storm about when I woke up this morning. I haven't been creating as much in the last couple weeks and I've been missing it. I've been working on my paper Project Life album which is fun, but good to get back to some digital stuff too.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Walking, poetry and my One Little Word #olw

Chloe, ready for her walk!

I didn't set out this morning to focus on my one little word for 2011: intentional, however, it turns out that my choice to go ahead and take my walk in the morning rather than putting it off was intentional, also my decision to listen to a podcast while I walked was intentional -- I usually don't listen to anything as I like the sound of the world around me and the quiet of my thoughts -- but today I felt like a long walk and wanted to listen to something. So I chose one of the Being by Krista Tippitts podcasts I have on my iPod. Well, the first one I started to listen to just wasn't working out -- the guy being interviewed was annoying me after less than two minutes, so I intentionally decided to abandon it and choose a different one. I am so glad I did, because the one I listened to both entertained and spoke to me this morning. It was Words That Shimmer from January 6, 2011.  Krista was talking with Elizabeth Alexander a poet and professor about poetry. She read the most wonderful poem which I decided I had to share with everyone.

Kitchenette Building 
by Gwendolyn Brooks


We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan,
Grayed in, and gray. "Dream" mate, a giddy sound, not strong
Like "rent", "feeding a wife", "satisfying a man".

But could a dream sent up through onion fumes
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes
And yesterday's garbage ripening in the hall,
Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms,

Even if we were willing to let it in,
Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,
Anticipate a message, let it begin?

We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!
Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,
We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.

This poem reminded me to let the "dreams" the wonderful intangible moments of life, the spiritual, the beautiful -- find it's way into my life alongside the more loud demands of everyday living: cooking, food shopping, paying bills etc... I also like how it is so concise and powerful in it's brevity.

So, enough about the poem. My only other thought his morning is how very lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place on this earth, where I can take a 3 mile walk down a wooded bike path, around a lake, down a wooded road, past a golf course and through a lovely neighborhood of homes -- all within walking distance of my little house -- and within easy commuting distance from Providence. I wish I had tried the South Lake route long before now -- it's just so quiet and lovely. I'm afraid I tired Chloe out though. She had a few "sit down" strikes along the way. I'm sort of glad she did as it forced me to stop a couple of times, sit on a rock, and just contemplate.  Well, now back to those everyday things -- cleaning the bathroom and tidying the guest room for my Mom's arrival later today!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

February break in Baltimore: Photos and more....

I'm late posting about February break, but I did want to share some of my favorite photos and things that we did. We drove down to Baltimore on Wednesday of February break week as Jim and I worked on Monday and Tuesday. We arrived at Mom's in the late afternoon. She was babysitting for my nephew Nikolas while his twin sister Amelia was at ballet class with her Mom, my sister Kate. I took a bunch of photos of them doing a puzzle together and this is probably the best of them. I just loved the way they were interacting.
Amelia and Kate arrived after ballet and Amelia had a great time helping Mom (her Grandma) cook our dinner. Here she is helping to make the carrots.
On Thursday we drove down to visit Mt. Vernon, George Washington's home in Alexandria, Va just south of Washington, D.C. Originally it was just going to be Jim, Emma and I, but Amelia hadn't been feeling well that morning and so didn't go to preschool.  By the time we got ready to leave for Mt. Vernon she was really fine so Amelia and Kate came along with us. Nikolas was at preschool and Grandma offered to pick him up and babysit to we could all go. This turned out to be a terrific day and a great time for Kate and I to talk and catch up while I drove her minivan and she sat in the passenger seat. Jim was occupied with reviewing a journal article in the back seat, and Emma and Amelia were entertaining each other in the way back seat. We arrived around lunch time and enjoyed a nice meal in the Mt. Vernon visitors center where I got a couple of good photos.
Next we spent a couple of hours touring Mt. Vernon. We all got audio tours (except Jim). Emma and Amelia are more engaged when they can push a number and listen to information about an exhibit. There was a tour of the house itself, but then we used the audio tour when we were walking around the outbuildings, learning about what went on in them such as the gardeners house, the clerk's quarters, kitchen, greenhouse etc... The whole place is really well managed and set up and the view from the back of the house over the Potomac is absolutely breathtaking. We want to go back when it's a bit warmer and the distillery and grist mill are open, and when we can walk around the working farm they have there with interpreters.
On the rise behind the house looking out over the Potomac, with Mia running in the background.
This photo doesn't really do the view justice, but it does give you some idea.

Friday it was time for a trip to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore It was sort of a tie in to Mt. Vernon as well as being one of our favorite museums, since it's in the Mt. Vernon area of Baltimore across from the park and Washington  monument there. We left Emma with Aunt Kate and the twins, and had a lovely grown up few hours looking at most of the regular collection with Mom. We haven't been in awhile so everything was new to us again. I particularly enjoyed the Ethiopian Art and bought a book about it. I've been intrigued by Ethiopia and the early Christians there since I read the book Cutting for Stone which was set mostly in Ethiopia.

Friday night we had dinner at Kate and Ron's by candlelight and firelight. It was stormy on Friday afternoon and many trees were down in their neighborhood, one across the street and one a few blocks away that took out the power to their neighborhood. Nick had the best time watching the crew clean up the tree across the street on Saturday. They had no power until Saturday afternoon! Emma spent the night with Amelia and on Saturday morning we all headed to the Winter Carnival at the twins preschool. The bouncy castle was a hit as you can see. Kate had to to a shift working in the Winter Wonderland passage so I hung out and kept her company.
Chloe had a marvelous time hanging out with my Mom's golden retriever Mischa. They play really well together as Mischa is really a gentle giant and Chloe is a small agitator. All in all, a fun trip. Thanks everyone!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Last Weekend in Photos: Emma and I spending quality Mother Daughter time.

Stars on Ice at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence
Emma's friend Katie had extra tickets and invited us!
Daffodils starting to come up in our back yard
Waiting to board the Red line subway at the Alewife T station
Boston Children's Museum
Emma, posing for a photo in the Arthur exhibit at the Children's Museum. She asked me to take this photo.
Very cool and eye catching doors of the Boston Athenaeum
Exhibit of Edward Gorey illustrations at the Boston Athenaeum. It was terrific.