Monday, March 31, 2008

My Apologies

Mea Culpa, Es Tut Mir Leid, I'm Sorry!

Hello everyone. I know that I owe many of you emails, replies to comments etc. Please know that I am not ignoring you, but have had limited internet time. Sometimes just posting my blog post and then the time has passed. We have had a lot going on in our family besides the birthdays and when I get overwhelmed, I'm not very good at keeping up. I'll try to catch up soon! Thanks for being patient with me!

G Is For Germany

I have really been enjoying the ABC Along this year and now we are up to letter G. G is for Germany, A country I have visited twice for a total of 11 weeks. The first was in 1984, my graduation present, to go see my pen pal Jutta. The second was in 1995 when Jutta got married. All my pics are on slides and I just happened to have had a few scanned already though they do need some touch up work. These are from the June-August 1984 trip.

Die folgende Bilder sind von meiner 1984 Reise nach Deutschland. Sie sind schoene Erinnerungen von Freunden.

This is Neuschwanstein Castle that the Cinderella/Disney castle is patterned after. It was built by Crazy King Ludwig in the mountains of Bavaria and has an interesting story which you can read on the link above if you have further curiosity.

From the castle there is quite a view, including this waterfall.

This picture shows a view of the city of Wurzburg. If you check the Wiki link, you will see the Residenz and Marienburg Fortress, both of which I toured. It is a historic and fascinating city. Many tourists visit here and generally I don't like places where there are tons of people, however, the history is so intriguing and rich, that I will tolerate it in places like this! My nephew Robert, whom I have never met lives about a half hour from this city.

Here is Jutta (pronounced Ewe-Tuh) taking a picture of me. I think this may have been at the Marienburg Fortress, but possibly in Rothenburg.

Here is my friend Jutta with her parents in front of one of the buildings in Wurzburg.

We spent some time on vacation with her parents and traveled to Wurzburg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbuehl, Ost Allgaeu, Innsbruck, Merano and the Dolomites.

We stayed one week in Pfronten and if I had opportunity to go back, I would in a heart beat! The area is incredibly beautiful. In spite of my personal circumstances (I had my period and Giardia at the same time, about 2 months after Andy, my step Dad who raised me, died. And I was in a foreign country feeling physically miserable and embarrassed because my friends had to take me to a doctor and stay around with sick me, cancelling some of the fun plans they had!), I enjoyed the area. It has elements of my home state, Washington, especially when I was hiking, and elements of something else which I found quite magical.

This cow looks cute and harmless but very well could have been the source of my giardia! LOL They wandered the hillside like a scene from Heidi!

Along the trail we saw these grave markers from the 1940s. Likely these are people who lived on this farm in years past.

Here is Jutta on the same trail, which went through farm land and climbed up out of town and onto the crest of a mountain or a foothill to the Alps (not sure which), where we could look one direction and see Austria and the other and see Germany.

Here is Renate, Jutta's "Mutti" on the trail.
Here is a view from the crest of the trail, looking down.

Here are Friedhelm and Renate on the crest. They are an affectionate and companionable couple. I don't think they will ever understand how much of an impact that made on me. I feel like my Hubby and I have that same type of companionability, where anything you do together whether a big trip or a small task, can be delightful if you choose. After losing my Dad unexpectedly right before I graduated, I needed the stability of having some family time with a man present, although I often wonder if he was irritated by the bevy of women he took with him! LOL He was a good sport and a great tour guide. They showed me more places and things and gave me so many opportunities that I will forever be grateful for!

This is Friedhelm where we stopped for lunch. Do you see that blue-green mohair sweater behind him? That belonged to Anke, Jutta's older sister who was away at med school at the time. I used that for warmth when we hiked. It was part of the beginning of my love for mohair!

Another breathtaking view from our hike. The funniest part for me about hiking in Europe is that you often end up somewhere that you can buy food, drinks, stay the night etc. You are in the middle of the wilderness and then all the sudden you are sipping sodas or espresso in a cafe (or hutte). Having grown up hiking many miles in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State and along the coast in the Olympic National Park, I had never seen anything like it. It was refreshing but hilarious!
This might still be Germany, but we might be driving in Germany but looking towards Austria. I definitely would love to see the Alps again and explore this area as well as Austria more!

We also went to local places like Hengsteysee (Lake Hengstey), where we saw this tower called "Mauese Turm" or Mouse Tower.

There were nice woods at the end of their road. This is Jutta under the umbrella. The ferns and oxalis grew like crazy. She said it was because of the acidic rain due to the industrial area they lived in.

This was an interesting place too where I even had opportunity to make my own sheet of homemade paper! It is an open air museum and I don't remember the name of the town. Today I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more... the bakery, was there a weaver? spinning wheel? I can't remember for sure. It was neat to walk through these actual buildings brought here from various places throughout Germany.

You can't probably tell what's in the foreground of this parting shot, but it is a tiny nun in front of the HUGE cathedral in Munster.
Unfortunately when I went to Germany before knitting wasn't that big, although I do have some yarn from each trip (mohair from the first, cotton sock yarn from the second). Now I would love to go and do some yarn shopping and also I was really surprised to find some of the most beautiful china I've ever seen in Germany! I recommend a trip to Germany if you can!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Songs on Sunday

Today's Song on Sunday is dedicated to Amy and her family who are newly home with their adopted daughter JGirl, a sibling to their boys, a Princess hand picked by God to fill their home and lives with amazing love. My prayer is that one day JGirl will know God's Amazing Love first hand!

Chris Tomlin
Amazing Love

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
B ecause You died and rose again.(Repeat x2)

Amazing love,
How can it be
That You, my King, would die for me?
Amazing love,I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.

(Repeat chorus x2)

You are my King
Jesus You are my King
(Repeat x4)

(Repeat chorus x2)

You are my King
(Repeat x8)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Happy 5th Birthday

(Click on pictures to enlarge)

We started out the girls' birthday with a complimentary breakfast buffet in the hotel restaurant. It was really good with lots of nummy stuff. The girls enjoyed their scrambled eggs with hot chocolate (a very rare treat for us!) and orange juice. Daddy got to enjoy eating pig which Mommy refuses to cook at home! LOL

Here are A and J
back in the hotel room ready and waiting to open their presents.

I found them some cute backpacks at Costco... they aren't for little kids, so too big to use as a backpack, however they will be great to use as a suitcase. I used the backpacks as their wrapping for the soccer balls, princess Barbies, fun new girly DVDs (animated Anne of Green Gables, Madeline, Gigi - God's Little Princess, Beatrix Potter and 101 Dalmatians) and some new spring/summer clothes. They had a blast digging through to find what was in there.
A and J with their
kitty princess cards (two things they love - cats and princesses!). Who knows what miss Drama Queen A was doing in this pic! LOL

This is A modeling her new beads . They loved the purses that Grandma and Grandpa filled with all kinds of neat stuff, including Princess tiaras!

A and J check out
everything in their purses and study them carefully.
And Aunt Shelley put together a fun gift package for them. Here they are looking at their new horse coloring books. She got them a fun card making kit and also little plastic sewing machines designed for their age level. J said, "Look Mommy, a machine to make yarn!" (She was a little confused as my spinning wheel and sewing machine live in the same place!)

The next stop was
Turtle Bay Exploration Park which is a lot of things rolled into one! Museum, Arboretum, playground, cafe, exploratory museum... and lots of fun!
It's amazing how kids can instantly make friends. At the entrance we met a family that live in Ukiah but are from Redding and were back to visit Grandma. They were about the same ages as our kids and had fun together.
First we had a picnic
at the Paul Bunyan camp where they have a nice playground area and an education center about forestry. (Hubby, D, A) We had our homemade bagels for lunch and the kids loved them!
J and Mommy. When she was looking at this picture with me, I said, "Who love you?!" And she said "Mommy!" I hugged her and then she thought a moment and said, "I think my Daddy loves me too!" :o) And yes, he does! After lunch we played on the playground for a little while.
The we went inside to see
what we could find to explore. The girls were fascinated that the water was running between the glass but they could not touch it!
Here the kids are walking through a bark hut, a replica of what area Native Americans lived in. There were also displays on early pioneer life, ecology and hands on science. Showing at the time was a show of Picasso ceramics...we did not view that, for obvious reasons! :o)
The aquarium was
one of the most interesting of the indoor exhibits. It was small but well done, made to replicate life in the Sacramento River (which flows through town, on its way toward Sacramento and then the sea).
The kids were fascinated by this, never having seen large fish in person. There were several native species including sturgeon and rainbow trout that were so huge they looked like steelhead!
These fish were funny.
They kept hovering in one place staring at me as if I were the aquarium exhibit instead of them! LOL
On the wall leading out of the museum were metal turtles engraved with the names of people who donated for the museum. I thought this would be a fun place to take their birthday picture. I asked them to face each other and J thought this meant cheek to cheek. A is looking a little bewildered and didn't want to be quite so affectionate at the moment.
So, I tried to explain
what facing each other meant...and this is what I got! LOL
In the end we resorted to the trick of Daddy jumping up and down, being goofy to get a decent picture! This is J on the left and A on the right.
As we left the museum, this
was the path leading to the bridge.

This is the Sundial Bridge. It is certainly interesting and shows some graceful lines but I have not decided yet if I think it is beautiful or ugly!

Here are
the children heading over the bridge which crosses the Sacramento River and takes you to the arboretum at the other side.
To the east one sees
Shasta Bally. There were a few fishermen, including the fly fisherman in the left hand corner of this picture.
This white egret was gracefully fishing too.
Looking east on the
bridge, one can view Mt. Lassen, a volcano in the Cascade/Sierra range.
Another perspective of the bridge.
Here are Hubby
and the kids beginning our walk through the arboretum. The snow covered hill in the background is Shasta Bally.
Almost immediately we began noticing butterflies. You can see a few in this picture if you look closely. This was a golden currant and I think I want one of these bushes. You can't see in the photo but the individual flowers are cute and cheerful.
The plantings
in the arboretum look quite young still, but it has the markings of being really beautiful one day. There were pieces of art scattered in various places and this one displayed information about water conservation.

This is the other side.

Recently, this man
has been the artist in residence at the park.

His medium is sticks! This is made from willow branches and was at first odd, but once inside and close up, it
was oddly beautiful .

Looking out from in.
This large turtle
was in the children's garden, where they have some fascinating mosaic displays.

A repeated theme was butterflies.

This is J in a
butterfly crawl tube in a bamboo "forest".

This is A, just hanging out and taking a break.

I swear the girls
can find water anywhere!
Here J takes a break with Daddy and is talking to him about the day. Behind her you can see the Eastern Redbud.
I remember my
friend Margaret of Heritage Yarns. She is an incredible dye artist and a true southern lady! When there was a discussion on the Christian Artisan list a couple years ago about Redbuds, she explained to me what they were as I had never heard of them before. (they probably don't like the PNW climate!) They were in bloom all throughout the park and I took this closeup for you Margaret!
This is the medicinal herb garden. Naturally, this was one of the more interesting ones for me, given my background in medicine and interest in nutrition and health.
So, while Mom
and Dad were busy taking pictures, the kids (here D and J) got busy making "roads" and playing in the dirt.
This is my little "lady", A. I think she was swimming in it! LOL
was really beautiful. They fluttered so fast, like a hummingbird, so we had to wait for them to rest. It happened in a split second, so it was hard to get sharp photos.

I haven't identified this one yet. It's fairly common in northern California but I have not found it's name yet.
This one is a
Painted Lady and I have seen these in the woods in the Sierras before, but not too many. I took about 200 pictures of butterflies and Hubby took some as well. These aren't the best shots. I am working on some to use as cards.

Soon we were heading back across the bridge. This is the base on the sundial side.

And you can see
the sun has moved along and the lighting on the river has changed.

On the way out I noticed these "balls" in the oak trees.
These are oak
galls. Galls are abnormal growths caused by insects. Some are harmful and some are not. Certain types of oak galls in the middel east have been used for centuries as an imnportant component of ink.
There were a lot of squirrels running around in the trees too and they jumped so fast and agilely that they seemed like they were flying.

Here are two
fellows who had a skirmish right above my head. Apparently one was encroaching on the other's territory.
Well, the day came to an end and we loaded up the van and headed south, but not before deciding that we would like to come back and visit Redding and the surrounding area again to explore and see more beautiful sights. All in all the girls had a really fun birthday. We aren't done yet...because we were gone they didn't get a birthday cake, so that will probably happen tomorrow!