Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Click here for more info on Wednesday Hodgepodge

 Today I am taking part in Wednesday Hodgepodge. Here are this week's questions and my answers.

1. Share something you loved about your Christmas Day.

Well, we open our presents on Christmas Eve so Christmas day it more of a relaxing day. We went to church, cooked a nice meal, and just did whatever we wanted. I enjoyed having time to spend with my husband and daughter.

2. You get to put five items in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years, what items would you choose and why?

Well, what is going to last after 100 years? Yeah, yeah...I know...don't put too much thought into it, just answer the dang question. OK. Let's say this is a time capsule that stays within the family. I would put in a copy of the family tree, newspaper clippings, photos, a journal, family recipes. Yeah, I know...not very creative but what do you want from me? It's almost midnight and I want to go to bed.

3. What do you like on a cracker?

Lots of things. Cheese. Hummus. Mushroom spread. Peanut butter. 

4. Do you make resolutions at the start of a new year? How'd that work out for you this past year?

Yes, I do but never expect them to work. This year was not a complete success in that respect but also not a complete failure. I made it part way to my goal.

5. What's a song or song lyric you'll associate with 2011? 
Hmmmm...I love music so not just one but many different songs come to mind. Picking just one is an impossible task. I'll give you two for starters:

English song: Christina Perri's "Jay of Hearts"
I love the line "you're gonna' catch a cold from the ice in your soul"

German song: Andreas Bourani's "Nur in Meinen Kopf"


6. How will you ring in the new year?

Each New Year's Eve we celebrate by making raclette, shooting off fireworks, and enjoying a bit of bubbly. 
7. What is something you look forward to in 2012?

Each new day :-)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

No wisdom here this evening. All I keep thinking is "what am I going to cook tomorrow?" Eggplant rollotini? Curried chicken and rice? Bouillabaisse? Help me out. You can leave your suggestions in the comments section.

That's all for now. Good night!


Head over to Joyce ( to check out more about Wednesday Hodgepodge.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Time again for January Stones

Would you like a 2012 with more colour, more clarity, more deliciousness?

During January, Kaspa and Fiona Robyn from ‘Writing Our Way Home’ will be encouraging you to pay attention to one thing every day and write it down.  You don’t have to be a writer to take part. You just need to have three minutes to spare a day, and a notebook or a blog, and the desire to slow down and fall in love with the world a day at a time.

Here you can find one of my favorite "stones" from last January.

Interested in opening your eyes to the world? Do jump here to find out more. Kaspa and Fiona hope to see you join in the river of stones. Here’s how last year’s "small-stoners" found the experience:

“I have to tell you, readers, I have loved writing a small stone every day for the last 31 days. It’s the most glorious exercise in mindfulness, in pulling yourself into this moment, and if you haven’t tried it yet please give it a go, if only for a week.”
~Rachel Hawes, writer of small stones

“…I keep finding that [writing a small stone] doesn’t eat up time or mental space; on the contrary, time stops and a new space is created.”
~Jean Morris, writer of small stones


“Writing small observations daily was like a spiritual experience for me. I felt happy, joyous and free. I looked forward to my daily meditation. As a result, I feel awakened and alive; and I am truly thankful.”
~Laurie Kolp, writer of small stones

The Language>Place Blog Carnival - Edition #12 (Food)

It was a pleasure to be the host for the "Food" issue of Language>Place. I received a variety of links, some which are directly related to a specific food, others feature food in a broader sense, and some merely make reference to a food. The contributors this month offer us visual posts, true stories, flash fiction, and poetry--something for everyone.

I'm not going to waste space with a lengthy introduction. After all, does a mother offer a long description or explanation when serving something new? Of course, not. She just says "Try it." So dig in! We've got a smorgasbord of delights for you to sample.


Terri French (The Mulling Muse) tells us the story “Cóndor azúcar” which takes place in Peru. It features a young boy, a mighty condor, and granular goodness.

In "Jogged Memory", Sandra Davies (lines of communication)  shares her thoughts on the discovery of an old photograph  of her Sunday lunch.  I won't reveal what she had for lunch, but what a lovely picture it is.

Jonathon Khoo (Things that Make me Go Hmmm), has tried anything from wax moth larvae tacos in California to blood sausages in Germany, but the best meal he's ever eaten was in India. Find out why it haunts him today.

Former resident of Puerto Vallarta, Margo Jodyne Dills (It's Always Something) shares her poem “The Secret Life of Jasmin Garcia Guadalupe” which features “one small plastic bag filled with water, nectar, jarabe,” and a whole lot more.

Smoky Mezcal, anyone? Steve Wing (Delinquent Dispatch) shows us the variety of foods offered at a market in Oaxaca.
Brigita Orel (Do the Write Thing) shares her flash fiction piece entitled "Language Misadventures." Lavender, parsley, basil, and other herbs appear in this Danish/Slovenian story.

Stefan Hofke (My European Life) highlights the Swabian pretzel (Brezel) which can be eaten at any time of the day.


Michelle Elvy (Glow Worm) shares memories of her years spent sailing in Mexico, experimenting with Mexican chilies, and one hot and spicy situation you might want to avoid.

Ever gone fishing for herring eggs? If not, let Vivian Faith Prescott (Planet Alaska) explain how it works. “This is the same technique that my husband's and my children's Tlingit ancestors have used for thousands of years.“

Marilyn Braendeholm (Misks Cooks) explains why she no longer hates a certain food. This post comes complete with a recipe for one of my favorite European breakfasts, photos of Hannover-Müenden in Germany, and a Danish translation.

In Repas d'un midi lointain, Jean Morris (Tasting Rhubarb) shares memories of culinary and emotional life in France in the 1970s. The menu includes spicy sausages cooked long and slowly with finely sliced white cabbage and juniper berries.

"Rain, darkness, more or less constant wind, difficult food." That is what Beth Adams (The Cassandra Pages) heard about life and cuisine in Iceland before her visit. Join her as she recalls the culinary adventures (with wonderful photos) of Hákarl, grilled seabird, and even smoked puffin.
Dorothee Lang (Life as a Journey) offers an e-flection on multicultural mockings that starts with depictions of racism, and moves on to ethnical food, blacks and whites of thought and skin colour, to shades of political correctness and situational incorrectness.

What do Twain, Italy, and Tabasco have in common? They are all featured in the post "A curious old town" by Parmanu. A nice read with great visuals. I especially love the picture of the Italian woman taking a photo of herself.

Food as fish bait for learning? Laurie Kolp (Conversations with a Cardinal) shows how one can use food to teach children acceptance.  "Exposure to different kinds of food not only enriches our cultural awareness, but it also brings us together for a bigger purpose; peace."
Whenever a family member travelled, the first question always asked the traveler upon return was "What did you eat?" Whether it be creole shrimp, Indian curry, or Brunswick stew laced with squirrel, Linda Wastila (Left Brain Right) says her love of all things edible comes from her parents.

 Rouch Swalwe  (Fünffingerplätze) tells us about a special birthday, a cocotte ronde, and a bird tale, complete with photo of tasty chicken.

Delicious cornbread filled with arepa, cheese, beans, avocado, plantains and other vegetarian ingredients. Christopher Allen (I Must be Off!) shows us that finding a gluten-free lunch in London is not as hard as it seems.

The interview post "I just want to buy a sandwich" gives us a glimpse into the life of Nine (Abyssinia Henry) and discusses travel, heartache and his dire need of an "f'n sandwich".

Christiane Alsop (Beyond the Margins) introduces us to a fun word play with translation. Try doing this with a sentence or paragraph from one of the other carnival contributions.


Rose Hunter (Fotos del Dia) shares a poem that takes place in Acapulco. Included are jittering coffee cups and one very special man.

Siddartha Beth Pierce has a mix of items-- artwork and two poems. One features fresh blueberries, cabernet sauvignon, and cherry-stained mouths.


There is a symbiosis hard to explain.” Judy Roney (I'd Like to Say) shares her poem about writing in a coffee shop.

Sonnet Mondal (Sonnet Mondal's Official Website) tells us about more than Bengali tea in the poem “The tea stall outside the university”. 

Not only does Stella Pierides offer us a haiku about ruby wine, she also has 16 other food related haiku in her post.


Call Edition #13 
Edition #13 will be hosted by writer and Lebenskünstler Christopher Allen. A native Tennessean, Christopher has lived in Germany for more than fifteen years. When he’s not editing, teaching or writing fiction, he blogs about his travels at I Must Be Off! The feature theme for Edition #13 is “Lost in Translation: The Humo(u)r Edition". Submissions are open Dec 1-Jan 8. Posts should be humorous, on the theme of humour, an attempt at humour, or even a blatant rejection of humour. Your post can be prose, poetry, photos, jokes—but as always, a wide range of contributions is welcome. Edition #13 is planned for mid-January 2012: Guidelines.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wrapping it Up're all done with Christmas shopping and getting ready to wrap all the gifts, right? What's that you say? You haven't even started? You're way behind? Well, I know the feeling. Not with Christmas (though I am a bit behind. I've only bought a few gifts, have yet to send Christmas cards and haven't backed one batch of cookies yet. Okay. So I a more than a little behind.) But I am wrapping up the Language/Place blog carnival, edition #11. I've got all the links and material, just need to finish setting up a few things before I can post it (hopefully on Friday). I learned a lot by hosting the FOOD edition. There are certainly a few things I'd do differently next time. I certainly wouldn't take on the task again when I have company for a month, school responsibilities, and other issues going on. But all in all, it was a great experience; one I hope to repeat again in the future. There are some very interesting articles and stories included which you might enjoy reading as well as some poems, photo, and artwork. There is even a recipe in one of the post for a food that I love. I won't tell you what it is. You'll need to search the carnival to find it. ;-)

In the meantime, the call for the next issue is already posted. Here it is:

Blue Print Review, Language/Place Blog Carnival - Call for Edition #13 
Edition #13 will be hosted by writer and Lebenskünstler Christopher Allen. A native Tennessean, Christopher has lived in Germany for more than fifteen years. When he’s not editing, teaching or writing ficiton, he blogs about his travles at I Must Be Off!  (Link: )The featured theme for Edition #13 is “Lost in Translation: The Humo(u)r Edition". Submissions are open Dec 1-Jan 8. Posts should be humorous, on the theme of homour, an attempt at humour, or even a blatant rejection of humour. Your post can be prose, poetry, photos, jokes—but as always, a wide range of contributions is welcome. Edition #13 is planned for mid-January 2012. Guidelines:

As Christopher would say...

I'm off for now!

I'll be back on Friday.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Question

Remember those word association tests one needed to take in school? If not, here is an example:

red is to crimson as blue is to:
a) sienna
b) wisteria
c) cerulean
d) sepia

If as a child you were the proud owner of a large box of Crayola crayons, you will automatically know that the correct answer is C. I remember my first big box, the one with 72 crayons and a sharpener built into the back. It was so cool to say to my friends, "Could you pass me the periwinkle?" or "I need the maize" instead of "Are you done with the pale blue?" or "I need yellow." Oh, the simple joys of childhood. Now the kids are more interested in computer games, downloading music, or exchanging cell phone numbers. Times change. 

But just to take you back to the good 'ol days (for those of you old enough to remember them or even those of you who are old enough to remember the good 'ol days before mine), I am going to present a word association question today. It is not a multiple choice question. It is this:

What do these three things have in common--fishing for herring eggs in Alaska, eating Bircher Muesli in the Black Forest, and cooking with Mexican chilis.      ??????

Well, you probably notice right away that all three include a food item. Herring eggs, Muesli, chilis. And three places are mentioned. Alaska, the Black Forest, and Mexico. But what if I added the term "Spaghetti-Fresser" to the mix? That would certainly change things. A food is mentioned but not a place.

So let me tell you. All these subjects will be featured in the upcoming edition of Language/Place which has the theme "food". The story about a Southeastern Alaskan family's tradition of fishing for herring eggs and the adventures of experimenting with chilis in Mexico are two of my favorites. I think you will enjoy reading them as well.

And guess what? Your blog post could be included, too. The original deadline was November 20 but has been extended until the end of November. The blog post should feature something related to language or place (or both) as well as a food or foods. The post could be a true story, fiction, poetry, or even a journal entry. Be creative. If you are interested in taking part, submission guidelines can be found HERE.

Speaking of language, place and food, let me close with this statement. After a four week stay, my in-laws are flying back home tomorrow. For our last evening together we enjoyed good conversation and excellent food (I had the seafood risotta) at Restaurante DaVito in the small village of Michelau. A perfect evening.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Reminder and WriMos

Don't forget. If you are intererested in language(s) and place(s), you might want to join the fun at Language/Place. Submissions are open for edition 12. The theme is FOOD. Information can be found by clicking HERE.


Today I am wondering how many people are taking part in a writing challenge this month. Almost everyone in my writing groups is doing so. Many of them are taking part in the November Chapbook Challenge hosted by editor Robert Lee Brewer at his Poetic Asides blog. Each day he will offer a prompt (and there are "two for Tuesday" prompts where you a given two to choose from). Your task is to write a poem based on that prompt. You have the option of sharing your work by posting it in the blog comments, but that is not required to take part. At the end of the month, you have time to make revisions and select your best work for the chapbook contest. For complete rules and other information, just click HERE. It isn't too late to participate.

Another event my friends are taking part in is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer's Month) which challenges you to write a 50,000 word novel in one month (always November) . The thing that makes this a bit easier is"Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly." Of course, the hard thing is that you are still writing a novel in one month (gulp!) and that means time for daily writing is needed. Unfortunately, my current schedule doesn't allow for that. Many people feel the same way. That is why there is (drumroll please)....the NaHaiWriMo (National Haiku Writer's Month). This actually took place in February but if I am not mistaken, in Novembet there are also daily prompts on Facebook (which can be found here) from which to write a haiku each day.

And then I noticed a few of you bloggers are doing a NaBloPoMo. I love the sound of that Na. Blo. Po. Mo. (insert smile) This, of course, is National Blog Posting Month. And the best part is there are PRIZES. Can you believe that? Unfortunately, it is a bit late to start since one needs to do a blog post every day and I've already missed the first week. Those who have started and for some reason are unable to finish need not fear, because...check this out!..there is also a prize for that. NaBloPoMo offers a consolation prize for the blogger with the best tragic tale about why he or she was unable to complete the challenge. Now how cool is that?  Even though it is too late to join in, check out the link to read the rules and learn about the wonderful prizes I will not be receiving. Bummer.

So, back to my original thought. I wonder who is taking part in what. I know my friend Terri is writing haiku, Connie, Laurie, and Jodi are both taking part in the chapbook challenge AND NaNoWriMo. What about you? What are you doing this month? Tell me about it in the comments section. And don't forget, the submission period for the Language/Place blog carnival has begun. Those of you taking part in NaBloPoMo might want to write a post which is related to language or place and food. That will fill at least one day for you and you can submit it. Hint, hint.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Food for Thought

Food. It is something everyone is familiar with. We all need to eat, right?

One of my favorite foods in Germany is Zwiebelkuchen. Zwiebel means onion and Kuchen means cake, but I think it would translate better as onion tart or onion pie. It is a tasty treat when eaten warm with a glass of good wine.

Not only is food a part of our every day lives but it also plays a big role in travel. Each country has its own specialities or customs revolving around food. Not only do countries have different culinary delights, but even individual towns have their own specialties--a special mustard, a secret recipes for ribs, a type of pickle, apple butter, scrapple, taco, soup. Well, you get the idea. And food can speak to us in various ways. Some people believe that the way to a man's heart in through his stomach.

Food is also the theme of the next Language/Place blog carnival. Why not submit? You could send a story about exotic food you tried in a foreign country or street food or your town's speciality or a flash fiction piece where food places a part. Perhaps you might mention a food idiom such as "to have your cake and eat it too", "nutty as a fruitcake" or "to eat crow" and share a moment where the saying was true. You might send a poem about how the smell of apple pie always reminds you of your Aunt Betty and how she always wore her hair in that beehive form. OK...maybe not, but you could send a different poem. Just think food and be creative.

If you are interested in joining the carnival, CLICK HERE for my earlier post which has information,other ideas, and a link to the Language/Place website. The submission period begins on November 1.
If you'd like to read the current edition (which is also the one-year anniversary edition of Language/Place) with the theme "Streets, Signs, Directions" then CLICK RIGHT HERE to start reading.

Go ahead. What are you waiting for?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

Remember the lyrics from that song by 5 Man Electrical Band? You know...the one that goes "Signs, signs, every where a sign..." When I recently went through my summer vacation photos that song kept running through my head. I hadn't realized how many pictures of  signs I had taken. I usually snapped a pic of the entrance sign to any site or attraction we visited. These photos serve as an reference point and organizational helper when making a photo book. Other signs pictures list facts and information I might not be able to  remember after the trip is over; they serve as my reminder. Some are taken just for fun. Today I'd like to share a few sign withs you from my four weeks in the United States in August.

After spending time with family in Pennsylvania, we flew to Texas to visit my cousin. We mostly spent time in Austin and San Antonio (more about those days in another post). One of the places we visited was The Alamo. Katarina found it very boring.

I guess at age thirteen, historical landmarks don't rank high on the list of interests. I think she was more impressed by this big metal sign that simply stated the historical fact and didn't require tours or the reading of  a hundred other information plaques.

From Texas we drove to New Mexico. Of course, we needed to stop to take a picture of the state sign. Except this welcome sign wasn't as welcoming as the Texas sign. Can you guess why?

It has to do with all the bullet holes in it. It made my daughter nervous. At night she made always double-checked to make certain the hotel room was locked, and she didn't leave any of her belongings in the car trunk. I guess that goes to show that a sign can relay more than what is on the sign, whether that feeling be accurate or inaccurate.

Then, to make things a bit more interesting, we saw this sign in Roswell.

Of course, it wasn't the only alien-related sign. The whole town is full of them. Even the streetlights are shaped like alien heads. Katarina thought it was rather strange, so we explained the history of Roswell. Afterwards, she said "Oh, I understand now. But really...that was like how long ago? Time to move on, people." I just laughed.

This time the alien signs had provided a conversation piece for us. So did this one. Katarina thought it was cool that we were travelling on the former Route 66.

And then we finally got to our next destination.

We had beautiful weather in Durango. Before heading back, we met a member of my online writer's group, Connie, at Mesa Verde National Park (where I took a photo of the entrance sign and a kazillion photos of the kivas and scenery.) I will be blogging about that at a later date. In the meantime, here is one of my photos from that day.

Okay, so it's not the scenic picture you were expecting. Don't worry I have tons of those. You'll get to see them eventually. This shot shows my daughter crawling through a wooden box. What you can't see is the note printed on the side. It says in order to go to Balcony House, you must be able to easily crawl through this space. I told her "Now you know how your hamster feels when she goes through her tunnel".

On the way back to Texas we stopped at Petroglyph National Monument. Here you find more than just the wooden entrance sign. There are over 24,000 carved images (or some might say signs) to find.

We all started to climb the trail when we came upon this sign.

Signs can be scary, I suppose, because my daughter promptly asserted her right to head back to the car. I set off alone up the steep path to take some photos. 

But signs can also comfort you after a long day of travelling. As we crossed over the border into Texas again and got closer to the San Antonio and Austin areas, we were reminded of home. We had learned at the Bob Bullock State History Museum in Austin that at one time, San Antonio has a very high population of German immigrants. One third? Unfortunately, one is not permitted to take pictures in the museum; otherwise, I would still know that bit of information. Anyway, we started to see street signs, exits signs, and billboard with German names on them. That made my daughter feel right at home.

Here is a church we passed in San Antonio.

And here is what was written on it.

Also in San Antonio is a huge hotel. As you will learn from the sign, the owners were German.

Here are the road signs. Oma is the German word from grandma and Haus means house, of course.

Schlitterbahn is a slide. We wished we'd had time to stop and enjoy the big water slides here. That day the temperature was 102 degrees (almost 40 Celsius for my German friends).

And this one is pretty close to being the German "Scherz". It is pronounced the same.

A Scherz is a joke. I like jokes because I like laughing. Which reminds me of another sign.

My favorite sign wasn't in German. It is this sign, in English, that I found funny. Of course, if you don't understand what the word means, then you wouldn't find it funny at all. That is what happened with Katarina. After we explained the meaning of the word, she finally saw the humor in it.

What do you think? Do you find it at all funny? Also, do you take pictures of signs? Have you passed any interesting signs lately? Or do you have those song lyrics running through your head now...signs, signs, everywhere a sign...? Tell me about it. As for me, I am signing off now.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


 I have two announcements to make. First, one of my Lind-guistic blog posts is featured in the current edition of Language/Place hosted by
Sheree Mack. This edition draws a colored map of The Heart and Soul of the Cultural Landscape in 14 entries from around the world. What's really neat is that a few of my friends are also featured this month. If you'd like to read this edition, click here.

And now for my second announcement (drum roll, please...)  In November, I will be hosting edition 12. The theme is "food". Perhaps you are like me and the first words you learn in a new language are those needed for ordering food. Once, while in a country where I knew not one word of the language, I just pointed to items on the menu and waited for the waiter to bring my surprise. Have you ever had an unusual food experience abroad? Does your town have any local food specialties? Food traditions? Do you have a story that touches on a food phrase/idiom? The possibilities are endless. Be creative.

I will be accepting submission from the 1st until the 20th of November 2011. Information on how/where to submit will be posted here by October 31 and will be available on the Language/Place blog.

In the meantime, feel free to submit to edition 11. 

Edition #11 marks the 1-year anniversary of the language/place blog carnival! The edition will be hosted by Dorothee Lang, who started the carnival in October 2010 and blogs at life as a journey. The feature theme for edition #11 is “Streets, Signs, Directions” - but as always, a wide range of contributions is welcome. The edition is planned for late October 2011, deadline: 20.10. Invitation + Guidelines.  

To read more about Language>Place blog carnival, go here. You can join its Facebook page. For instructions on how to submit, browse this site.

Monday, October 3, 2011

How quickly can you write 60 words?

Remember last week when I "pulled a Cinderella" by attending the "Bloggers Ball" within the last hours? Well, guess what? I am once again slipping in right before another deadline, and I want to give everyone who reads this a chance to do the same. If you want to play along in The Worst Storyline Ever Contest, you have until the end of today (11:59 p.m., PST, Tues, Oct. 3, 2011) to enter. As you probably know, a storyline is a short write-up you might find in the tv guide for a show, on the back of dvd, or a blurb for a book. The point of this contest is to write a really ridiculously stupid storyline.

Need an example? Click here to see my winning entry (and others) from 2010.

For complete rules, CLICK HERE.

You are allowed to enter two storylines. I just posted one and will try to think of another before the day ends. Afterwards (and only after I have submitted two) will I go and read the other entries. There are always quite a few that make me laugh and/or question "Why didn't I think of that?"

Come play along! Even if you don't enter, why not visit the site to read the entries and end your Sunday with a bit of humor. After all, laughter is good medicine.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pulling a Cinderella

Hi everyone! Sorry I haven't got around to doing my vacation posts yet. I have been busy the past week and the coming week is even worse. So I am going to put that planned post aside for now and "pull a Cinderella". No, I am not going to clean the cinders from the chimney. With the unseasonably warm weather today, who needs a fire? No. What I mean is I am going to show up late. To the ball. Yep, it is Sunday evening here in Germany and I am going to the ball--the Blogger Ball #7 to be exact. I doubt I will get the attention Cinderalla did when she arrived well after the event began, but at least I will dance with a few before it ends.  Here's how it works.

SheWrites Blogger Ball #7

Welcome to the SheWrites Blogger Ball!
Welcome to the Blogger Ball #7. To participate:
1. Add a link to your blog through the linky below, listing the name of your blog in the “name” blank (with parenthetical two-word or less description).
2. Do a welcome post of any sort you’d like on your own blog. Highlight and copy the bookshelf icon to allow folks to get back to the blog list by clicking on it. (If you just “copy image” it won’t pick up the link; you have to highlight and copy/paste.)
3. Visit at least 3 other blogs on the list between now and next Sunday (a whole week and two weekends this time) – and leave comments! The more blogs you visit, the more visit-backs you’ll likely get.

For other blogger ball participants, my blog deals with just about anything that includes words--literature, poetry, puns, word games, quotes, song lyrics, and sometimes just my babbling.  I've been on hiatus for the summer but will be back in the swing of things soon. If you want an idea of what you'll find here, check out these former posts (and if you like what you see, feel free to follow me).

Wanna read a book review? Click here.

Interested in a language post? Read this.

Poetry anyone? How about this?

Not interested in me? You want to read about I? Then click here.

If you've always wanted to see a German Easter fountain, this is the place.

If you are a kid at heart, go back to your youth with this post.

And if you want something a bit whacky, smoke on this.

If you are more interested in life in Germany, you might want to visit my other blog, Linda's Life on the Other Side.

I am off to visit a few new blogs. Read. Comment. Go to bed. Maybe snore. :-)

(AND for my North America friends, this post might actually reach you in time to allow you to join in, but even if you don't, feel free to stop by some of the other participants' blogs. Who knows? You just might find a glass slipper---um, I mean, a blog you might like.)

Good night!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm Back

As the title says...I'm back. Well, in actuality I've been home a good two weeks now but have been getting over the jetlag, preparing for school (which began two days ago) and various other things.

Our four weeks in America were enjoyable. We visited family in Pennsylvania and Texas and spent time (just the three of us) in New Mexico and Colorado. I hope to post about it in the coming days, both here and on my other blog (which can be found here:

In the meantime, I've tried to get back in the swing of things by visiting other blogs and posting comments. I've also been working on several writing projects and actually sent out a submission this morning. Wishe me luck!

SO...stay tuned. I hope to get my first vacation post up this weekend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Short Post

Hi! It's been two months since I posted here. I hope to be back to posting here on a regular basis after summer vacation (mid-September). In the meantime, you can read posts from my other blogs here.

My latest "stone" at The Gathering of Stones


a not so short "short note" at Linda's Life on the Other Side.

In the meantime, I hope you are all enjoying your summer vacation. Our has yet to begin. One more week of school. We can't wait.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sob Stories and Rockin' the House Today

It's been two weeks since the A to Z Blogging Challenge ended. Since then I have been too busy to post, also not been feeling well, but I am back, at least for today, to post. I'll write this, post, and then head off to bed.
The sun has long slipped into the horizon in Germany, but in America evening has just begun. I look at the clock and realize the Rock 4 Rob concert at Chaplins Music Cafe in Spring City, PA, has already come to a close. I missed it. I bet it was a rockin' good time. The bands included Episode 4, No Way Out, and Sierra's Mantra and all proceeds go the the American Diabetes Association. I think that is great. I also think it is fitting that the concert is held today, May 14, because that is Rob's birth date.

Rob and I met when we were four. He lived on an intersecting street, his house just a five minute walk from mine. We went to kindergarten together and elementary school together. In fourth grade I had a crush on him. I can still remember sitting down to sign and seal my valentines for that year. We were required to give everyone in the class one. Mom bought me a super assortment pack with both girly and boyish themes. In fact, she bought me two boxes to ensure that I had plenty to choose from. If I close my eyes, I can still picture the valentine I gave him. It had a big, hairy gorilla holding a red heart in his hand. At the top, it said “I'm ape over you.” I even went as far as to buy a flat, palm-sized candy heart with “I like you” written on it which I inserted inside the envelope with a note that asked, “I like you. Do you like me?” before sealing it.

Well, you know how things work at school. Rob opened it up, some boy saw the candy, snatched the valentine out of his hand, and announced to the entire class that I was in love with him. How embarrassing! Rob remained calm though. He just looked over and smiled sheepishly. I think I blushed brighter than a red heart valentine. We walked home together that day and some days to follow, chatted on the phone, hung out. I think our romance lasted all of maybe two weeks and then we were back to being neighborhood buddies. And we remained good friends for a long time. Here is a photo from our senior yearbook. I am on the left and our friend, Audrey is to the right.  .

While I worked and attended college courses in the evening, Rob went to a college not far from us and I went to visit him on occasion to hang out and talk. When I turned 21, he was the only guy from school that I invited to my party. At that time I was dating the man who is now my husband. I really wanted Rob to meet him and it meant a lot to me that Rob liked Stefan right away. Although I already have three brothers, Rob had became like a fourth brother to me. (But, really, even better than a brother because I could be myself with him, do and say whatever I wanted, and never fear he would tattle to mom and dad. He'd just give me “a talkin' to” himself. And his advice was always spot on.) Not only had we known each other for so long, but we also shared two big common interests— music and language/writing. Rob grew up to become an editor of a medical journal and played in a band. In fact, he formerly played in all the bands that performed at the Rock 4 Rob concert today. Unfortunately, Rob died November 10, 2009, at the age of 41.

On the morning of November 11, I got an email from my cousin Bob informing me of the bad news. Though I knew Rob had been diagnosed with diabetes a very long time ago, it still shocked me. That Billy Joel song immediately came to mind. Only the good die young. I sat in front of my computer screen crying. I felt sadness, loss and guilt. Guilt because after I got married and moved and he got married and moved, we lost touch. So many years had gone by. I wanted to get back in touch with him, see how he was doing, thank him for being such a great friend during those turbulent childhood years. Only a year before I had searched for him on Facebook and Classmates, but there was no listing for him. Now it was too late.

So I did what I thought Rob might have done. I sat down and wrote. I wrote how I felt. Then I wrote a poem about death. A sonnet. Well, it followed the rhyme scheme at least, but I was too lazy to count syllables and pay attention to meter. Then I informed a few old friends of ours, drank a cup of coffee, called my mom. I thought about his mother and father. They are great parents and wonderful people. When I started my first job and had to ride my bicycle into town, they worked nearby and would give me a lift when it rained or when I woke up late . They spoke to me like a person, not a kid, and I liked that. And I always felt welcome in their home. The first thing I would do when I walked in the living room was look at the painting of a little boy that hung there. I couldn't help it. That picture drew my attention every time because I knew it was Tim, their other son who passed away at age three, a few years before Rob even came into this world. Now they had lost another child. Being a mother myself, I can now imagine the pain they went through then and the tremendous loss they must feel once again. It breaks my heart.

Earlier this year his sister Sue compiled some of Rob's early writing (stories and poetry) and coupled it with her own work to publish a book entitled SoB Stories: Writings of a Sister and a Brother. Growing up I had the pleasure of reading some of Rob's stories but I never knew he wrote poetry. I love poetry and write it myself, so imagine my surprise when Sue told me one of the poems had my name in it.

My mother bought me the book for my birthday and, of course, I went right to that poem. Though it mentions me, it is not about me but rather another girl we went to school with. It is called The Visitor and is written in three parts. And it is good. I especially like his description of her in that pink sweater she wore, the one with embroidered birds-- a girl with wheat brown waves wearing birds imprisoned by stitches-- and this line near the end-- I stare at the leaves that flutter like butterflies against a chill breeze.

I continued to read the other poems. Though sad, I couldn't help but smile with acknowledgment as I read I never knew you except for stories and the oil-painted photo quiet as stone in the living room in his poem Timothy. The wording in this poem does a good job conveying what it is like to feel a loss for someone who passed on before you were born, to mourn a brother never known, the loss of relationship that never came to be. Sue, who was 5 when Tim died, wrote her own poem for him, Blue Bleeds into Black. It is my favorite poem of hers in this collection. Written from her perspective at the age of his death, the beginning stanza drew me in immediately.

My brother's gone. My mother said. She told me that he died.
I didn't know just what to feel, despite the tears I cried.
God needs him now, she said to me. But what does heaven lack?
I need him, too. I love him so. I want my brother back.

But my absolute favorite poem is Snowflake written by Rob. I love to watch snow fall, to see it paint the tree branches in glistening white and cover fields in soft drifts of winter. So it is no wonder that this poem spoke to me. I like the imagery and particularly like this word picture:

Silently and steadily they slip,
sneakily through bough
of sycamore and spruce to nestle
like a baby bird

In the crook of my neck, or the
fringe of my wool scarf...

I find myself reading this one over and over again. It gives me the same serene feeling as actually watching a winter wonderland slowly cascade from the sky.

The majority of my blogger friends are writers; many are poets. If you like what you've read so far, feel free to purchase your own copy here. This 173 page book consists of 18 poems and 26 stories. I haven't finished reading all the stories yet but thoroughly enjoyed Sue's comical piece Psychology is My Cup of Tea which has Freud, Erickson, Paiget and the likes engaging in a funny debate as well as One Man's Armor which is like a short fairy tale or modern Aesop's fable. Rob's piece Mauby's Corner is great flash fiction and his longer story, Margaritas, took me back to my youth and reminded me of some people I knew back then.

I wish Rob were still here to spend time with his son, to share moments with Sue, his parents, and friends, to write more, to play guitar, to enjoy a bit of the goodness that life offers, because he always gave his best to others. I honestly cannot recall a single bad comment about another person leaving his mouth during all the years I knew him. He saw the good in everyone and was there to help when they were in a bad place. A real great guy. He left this world too soon. Unexpectedly. But we all, every day, live on the edge of life and death. We never know when our time is up, when those we care about will pass, when souls will cross. We tend to take people for granted. I challenge you, if just for today, to reach out to those important to you, let them know, in some way, how much you care about them. Don't wait until it is too late.

I leave you with the poem I wrote after I learned of Rob's death. He was the first meaningful childhood friend I lost, and that day I sat and thought hard about every person I ever cared about. Perhaps it is not written as well as Rob might have done, but it is all I have to offer you. Here is my attempt at an Italian sonnet, the form of which one might refer to as a semi-sonnet, since I was too lazy to follow all the rules.

The Spinning of Wool

The last time the earth swallowed me whole
was the day a choir of angels flew,
singing their welcome song for you
as they gently lifted your eternal soul
from its earthly home to that celestial pole
where you, my old friend, begin life anew.
I remain with fond memories to carry me through,
to hold on to times shared, to help console,

but mostly, I am reminded what a fragile thread
life is, how we fail to recognize that time spins
the wool continuously, always growing thinner,
ready to snap at any given moment, the dead
then wrapped in pure heavenly skins,
no longer of earthly being, no longer sinner.

Happy birthday, Rob! May the love of those you left behind reach up to the heavens today and let you know you are not forgotten.

And to Sue-- I hope Rock 4 Rob was a huge success and that all who attended had a blast.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Not the End

Today is the last day of April and I am thinking, “How the heck did that happen?” The month seemed to fly by. That means that today is the last day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Or maybe not. Normally I would totally fret not meeting the deadline, but I've learned to take things in stride. So what if I still have to do V, W, X, Y and Z. Are the blogging police going to hunt me down and give me a citation? Nah. So I can just not finish the race...or I can just post late, which is what I'll do. I'll just finish when I can. Life is too short to sweat the little things.

In an effort to post something today I am cheating a bit and posting a few videos for my V post.

The first is one from Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue. I like both of them and they seem to be having a lot of fun in this video. I hope you enjoy it. Here is Kids.

The next video also includes Robbie. This time he sings with Nicole Kidman. Not only do they both have great voices, I love the story presented and the classic look.

That Robbie and Nicole video just gives you a good feeling, doesn't it? Aaah, to be in love. But what if love doesn't work out? The next video always makes me grin. I first saw it posted on my friend's Facebook page. I'd never heard of Jaron and The Long Road to Love. I am not sure if they play him on German radio or not, but this song is great.

And the last one is not one I like to watch. The first few times I thought it was interesting but now it is more disturbing. I call it Planet of the Apes meets the creator of Frankenstein. Very clever but weird. I hope I don't have strange dreams tonight.

Now that is scary! Modified ape-people. Creepy-looking things, aren't they. The mad scientist guy ain't too hot-looking either.

Oh, and I almost forgot. V isn't just for videos. V is for votes. My friend, Nikki, (who unlike the monkey creatures isn't creepy at all) needs votes. She is very close to winning the Hometown Hotties competition. You can help. Go to this site, register and vote for “that1girl”. If you do, I'll keep the mad scientists away from you and you will be blessed with good kharma. :-)

That's it for now. Maybe I'll post the rest of my letter posts tomorrow. Maybe not. Maybe I'll just spend it with the family and post on Monday. Or even Tuesday. Yeah, I am blogging deadline rebel. LOL

Friday, April 29, 2011

Not What you Expected?

The other day I posted about being three days behind in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and vowed to catch up. Well, so much for that. Even though I posted, I missed a few more days and am now four days behind. I hadn't planned on that. Perhaps my U word for today should be unplanned. That would be fitting.

For today's post, I'd like to welcome you into my world. I live in a small village in Germany. I'm not sure what the current population is but I would guess it is less than 800 people. In former times many farmers lived here, the unpaved roads saw more tractor traffic than cars, and the hills I can see from my kitchen window were once home to rows and rows of grapes. How things change. In the past few years much talk regarding the heavy traffic on the main road has been discussed. We still have tractor traffic occasionally, but these are more of what you might call hobby farmers. There is only one man that I'd consider a real farmer since he has several cows and fields, but one can no longer call this a farming community. Also, though the hills still remain, there are no vineyards there. Well, not real vineyards. There are two plots of land which have grapes planted.

For the past several years, he has been making wine. Sometimes red, sometimes white. Both were good, but I thought the white was exceptional. He only made enough for our own consumption and entertaining, and he got the grapes from a winery. You can do that here. Buy grapes, pressed, from local vintners. Then we had the great fortune of acquiring a plot of land in the hills. We noticed that another family had several rows of grapes growing, so my husband, Stefan, decided the plant some as well. Since good, inexpensive red wine is readily available in Germany (there are wineries all over Rems-Murr-Kreis and we often go for long strolls through the vineyards on a Sunday afternoon) we decided to grow white grapes, a variety called Johanniter. I am not sure of the English translation and the online translator offered no help.

If you are a wine-lover, you'll know that it takes about seven years until the vines produce grapes worthy of wine. Our young grapevines are coming along fine, and we often walk up to check on them. Once a few wild boar had trampled through our property and made a mess but the saplings were unharmed. After the first winter, two plants didn't survive. We are glad the early stages are going well.

Two weeks ago we drove the car up, a bunch of gardening equipment in the trunk. We spent about an hour working, then took a few minutes to admire the view. We have a great vantage point over the village. Then we pack our supplies and started driving down the narrow, winding paths. When we got to where the path meets the main road into town, my husband turned right instead of left. “If you're not in a hurry to get home, I'd like to show you something,” he said. I agreed, and we continued out of town, up through the next town and down some winding country roads. When we got out to the motorcycle course where we watch the International Motorcross competition each year, I started to wonder where heck he was taking me. I asked but he only replied with, “You'll see.” So I sat and wondered a bit more. As I pondered our destination, a flower field came into view. These are common in our area. We even have a small one in our own village. The owners, possibly farmers, plant a variety of flowers. When they are in bloom, you can go pick them. A small stand has a can or wooden container set under the sign indicating the price. Often a knife also is made available for cutting the stalks. Yep...I said knife. Just sitting there waiting for someone to use it. It makes me laugh a bit, because I know a few of my American friends would be screaming, “Oh, my God. They have a knife just sitting there and anyone could pick it up and use it!!!” Well, to be honest, it happens a lot. Crazy people come out and use cut flowers! In the ten years we've been here, I haven't heard of any being stolen or any incidents happening.

In any case, this huge field came into view, full of nothing but tulips, several varieities and many colors. Cream-colored, yellow, mandarin, deep violet, pink. Of course, there were several shades of red-- a true red, crimson, scarlet, burgundy. I mentioned how beautiful it looked and he said, “I thought you'd like it. Want to pick some?” He pulled over into the lot, and we did just that. Two other people were also building bouquets as they walked up one row and down the other.

On the way home I sat thinking what a beautiful bunch of flowers we'd selected and how it is those unplanned moments, those little extras that we sandwich in between all the routine and common, that make life enjoyable. (It also helps to have an awesome husband, but that is another story.) Speaking of stories, here is a word of advice for all my writer friends. Don't forget the unplanned. No one wants to read a short story or book where everything the plot is predictable. Even characters shouldn't be totally predictable. A protagonist can't be bad all the time. Let the poor guy shed a tear when he thinks about that tragic moment in his past. Let him help some old lady cross the street. Heck, he could even have a dog that he treats like a King. And that main character you love so much—guess what? He or she has flaws. Let them show. Your characters need to be realistic. No one can be brave all the time or always confident or eternally cheerful. Let them test their boundaries, show their fears, make mistakes. After all, no one is perfect. The moment one of your lead subjects steps out of character is the time our interest peaks. We think, “Gee, I wasn't expecting that.”

And another thing...step out of character yourself some times. Go ahead. Have a little fun. Maybe try something new. You might freak your friends out a bit. Of course, you might surprise them in a good way. One thing is for certain. You'll learn something about yourself in the process.

In my O post, I spoke about how I learned the meaning of ornery. I learned it when I stepped out of character, and I learned a lot about myself that day. Do you have a tale about a time you stepped out of character. If so, share it will me in the comments section. I'd love to hear it. Hey, even if you hadn't planned on commenting here, I dare you. Go ahead and do it. Make me smile.