Saturday, December 26, 2009

Before and after: Poppy seed bread

I run across a lot of food bloggers out there. If I stuck strictly to food, I think it would be all about bread because it is so much fun to make.

Christmas pix

Everyone loves Uncle Bub.
The budding photographer?

What adorable cousins!

Friday, December 25, 2009

As the Prophet Isaiah Foretold

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

It doesn't matter where I am, what I am doing, or whom I am with, Christmas Eve retains its magic. It is the most special of times. The child in me can still feel the charge of anticipation in the air and see the atmospheric glow from Santa's sleigh.
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Spirit

Santa made my day. Actually he was a younger, more fit version but white-bearded and with a similar spirit who thankfully had his Christmas tree lot open, selling off his last six trees. I asked, "How much?" He replied, "The price of a cup of coffee." He trimmed the bottom and the lowest branches of the loveliest, best smelling frasier fir I had even seen, wrapped it snugly in mesh, and loaded it in the trunk. I paid him $12, two more than his asking price. He said in the past few days he had been selling more to Germans (I did not know there were so many in our city!) who do not have "Thanksgiving trees" but actually wait til Christmas approaches to do their Tannenbaum. By tomorrow evening, my tree will be in its place of honor, lit and sparkling, and holding memories of Christmases past.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Too Late

You know you are late with your Christmas shopping when the shelves are cleared of all but Valentine's Day merchandise. I should have known better, but really, I did think I would be finding adorable little things like hand carved wooden manger scenes and beautiful woolen scarves in the markets of Germany. Had the current world economic situation and the shrinking of the American dollar totally eluded me? Apparently I have been in denial. I do not have a Christmas tree as yet either. In days of yore, before people put their trees up on Thanksgiving and took them down on Christmas Day, trees would still be for sale in cold, corner lots, and by the 22nd, there would be several Charlie Brown trees remaining whose prices would be cut in half. Not so today. The place where I have bought my Christmas trees for the past few years and was hoping to find one for 2009 has been swept clean, not even a balsam needle remaining. But as appointed, Christmas will come, with or without my full participation. I will have to live with it, and focus on the gifts of peace, joy and hope that the Christ Child still brings today.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rambling on . . .

During the past few years I have been able to venture out from my home and experience other lands, cultures, and people, and it has fulfilled a desire of mine since childhood. I don't know how it started but I used to write to the embassies of different countries and ask them to send brochures about their countries, then when they arrived, I would spend hours looking over them. I was also fascinated with my special dolls that were dressed in costumes from the lands they represented. Now it seems that this the world is closer or smaller as "they" say, we are more the same. Kathy was looking forward to having lunch at a nice little restaurant at the bahnhof in Salzburg that she had enjoyed before, but was unable to find it. Then she realized the spot it had occupied was now a Burger King. Sad but true. All of us out on the streets of Munich and Salzburg were dressed pretty much the same, but I think we were recognized as foreigners or maybe Americans more by our shoes than anything else. The only places I saw traditional or local dress was by the servers in some restaurants. In the nicer places they wore neat black attire covered with spotless, crisp, white aprons, and in the "beer hall" type places, some workers were wearing the famous lederhosen or dirndls. As far as language goes, one thing I noticed is that two words are universal, understood anywhere. They are coffee/cafe and toilet/toilette.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


They say it takes one day for every hour of time zone crossed for our bodies and brains to re-adjust, and since it hasn't yet been two days since I crossed westward into the USA, I am still a bit groggy and disoriented. I will recover. But I find it odd that I am still wanting to eat German food, even though I was there only a week. I was hearing the German language spoken all around me, seeing German signs, and reading from German menus, and it was natural to pick up bits of the language. At night the sounds and smells were going through my head. Yesterday, my first real day home, the only thing I cooked was kartoffelsuppe (potato soup), and I tried to make more like theirs. I had brought back some pancetta that I purchased at a grocery store in Austria, cut off some small pieces and fried them in a pan along with a little onion. I mashed a few of the cooked diced potatoes after they were dropped in the suppe, added parsley, and by darn, it was "sehr gut."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Conversations while traveling

Traveling is all about experiencing first hand, being in other cultures and learning, but seeing the sights and eating the local food is only a part of it. Talking to people we meet when traveling is even cooler as far as I am concerned. One conversation I had was with a young man from Afghanistan who is planning on going home soon to visit his family. He said there is a war going on there, as if I wasn't aware, but he believes he will be safe. He said the problem is not with the people of Afghanistan, that they really just want to live out their lives undisturbed. Isn't that the way it always is? And on the trolley a tall, pleasantly serious American woman who overheard our conversation spoke with us and offered advice on where to stop. As it turned out, she was on the 1984 USA Olympic volleyball team, is now married to a German man, and has lived in a small town near Munich for twenty years. Sitting next to me on the flight home was an anxious woman from Serbia who had come to NC, compliments of a church, as a refugee in 1991 during the war there. She had gone home to visit her family and was returning to her American life.

Maybe it just feeds my love of hearing people's life stories.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Missing Christmas Shopping

There are a lot of things a girl has to do to be ready to live far away from home for nine days, so today I have been finishing the packing and preparation. I am really looking forward to the adventure and plan to do some shopping while in cold, beautiful Bavaria. But over the past few days I have been out to my familiar old stores, and wow are they packed with all kinds of great stuff to buy. Sometime this spring I was looking for a jewelry box, but there were none to be found. When I asked why, I was told that they are "seasonal items." Well now is the season for jewelry boxes and any other items our little hearts could desire. However, by the time I come back from my trip and into an American store, the shelves will be picked over and the excitement will have faded. Maybe that's not so bad. It's easy to get caught up in the frenzy, and I often end up buying something I can't resist. It doesn't take too long for me to realize I should have resisted. This will be a different December for me. To see what I will be doing for the next week or so, check me out here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Church on Sunday

Back in the youth oriented, techno church service this morning I was thinking how great it was. I felt the energy, enjoyed the rockin’ band and good singers, sang some upbeat versions of Christmas songs, and felt the positive vibes from the different types of people who were there. But I also have enjoyed the quieter Presbyterian Church I have visited several times lately, where I was warmly welcomed by the members and where I had no trouble sitting and listening intently to the scholarly pastor. The year I spent attending the Episcopal Church was also good. I think I may be like my grandmother who simply loved going to church. As she was older, she spent time living with both her daughters. With one she went to a Baptist Church and with the other a Catholic Church, and she claimed she felt at home in each. I don’t really know if it is the corporate worship, the sacredness of time spent with other believers, the traditions, the freedom to attend whatever church we choose as American citizens, or the energy I get from being around other people, but it is all a happy experience for me.

Friday, December 4, 2009

We are all teachers

Yes I am glad I had the opportunity to teach. When I was a little girl, I remember lining up my dolls around the room facing toward the front, their still eyes staring back at me as I instructed them on whatever I had learned in school that day. I’m sure the inclination was in my genes as many relatives on my Daddy’s side are educators. But as an adjunct clinical instructor, I wasn’t in a regular classroom, and I was pretty much given free reign over what to say. When I went to my school for the last time this week, I picked up a stack of evaluations the students had done on me that reminded me why I was doing it. And I wondered if a student would take with them anything I ever said, if I would be remembered, if I helped in any way, if I made a positive difference. I know I learned a lot from them just as I do from my patients.

I imagine only a small percentage of actual learning actually comes in a formal setting or a place where it is expected. Teaching and learning experiences continue throughout our lives, beginning with the first and most important teachers, our parents. We listen and watch from the time we are born. But as we grow and age, we add to or take away and continue allowing others to teach us. Conversations with others are teachable moments as we share our experiences, ideas and opinions with others. Even brief encounters with strangers can make profound impacts on our lives if they expand our understanding.

Unfortunately, on the flip side, there is also erroneous teaching, bad relationships that lead to wrong conclusions, and we humans can learn stuff that does not enhance our lives. But that is another story . . .

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Showing Up

On my many hurried drives through the familiar route to work from my side of Greenville to the middle of town where the hospital sits, I often think about how showing up is the hardest thing. After I have clocked in, winded from the race, I can breathe easier. I made it! From then on, it feels like skiing a downhill slope. Sometimes I tell my students about how we first must show up. But physically showing up doesn’t just apply to getting to work or to appointments on time, it also applies to how we live our lives. Sometimes a student will be present but her mind will be elsewhere. An employee may have clocked in on time and be at work but may not be involved in more than the rudimentary expectations and counting the minutes til her shift is over. In personal relationships also there can be a lack of showing up as we neglect to engage with other people. For me, I will not be showing up to teach anymore. Though it has been great fun and truly an honor to be a teacher, sharing what I know and have experienced with my work, I have shown up for my last day. Yippee!!