Saturday, January 11, 2020

Mosaic Monday #62: Hamburg, Part III

The peace of the holidays is rapidly dissipating.  Wildfires in Australia.  Tension between the US and Iran.  And closer to home, the sale of 630,000 acres of Montana timber land by Weyerhaeuser to Southern Pine Plantations, a Georgia-based brokerage and investment firm.  Rumors abound that treasured public access to recreation areas will evaporate as smaller parcels are sold to developers. 

While I am not one to panic, it is enough to bring on a general sense of unease.  In response, I pray.  And then I look for escape.  Akin to the proverbial ostrich, I stick my head in the sand of happier, carefree days.  So let us return to October 2019, and our trip to Hamburg, Germany.  As I wrote in my previous two posts, a city of romance, and of hopes and dreams.

Our tour of inspiring churches resumed with the Russian Orthodox Gnadenkirche ('church of mercy').  The round church was built in 1907 and for almost a century served as an Evangelic Lutheran house of God. As the number of churchgoers petered out, in 2004 the church was acquired by the parish of Saint John of Kronstadt.  After extensive renovations to suit its new congregation, the church now possesses captivating frescoes and intricate iconostasis crafted by Moscow's premier icon painters.
Iconostasis - a screen bearing icons, separating the
sanctuary from the nave

Our admiration continued, albeit in a more natural setting. Planten un Blomen ('plants and flowers') is a 116-acre urban park, famous for its water-light concerts, public theater and music performances.  It is easy to imagine summer-time, with families strolling wide pathways, and couples relishing a picnic while lounging on a blanket near one of the numerous water features.  This day, light rain spattered the ponds and gravel paths, leaving the park to a handful of visitors braving the weather.  Readers, you know my adoration for any garden, so you will believe me when I write that my enthusiasm was not dampened by a pinch of precipitation.





By evening, the walking tour resulted in a voracious appetite.  Once again, Dr. H hit the mark with a reservation at La Creperie Bretonne de Hambourg.  As you might surmise from the name, this restaurant serves only crepes and galettes, but I challenge you to peruse the menu without finding at least three dishes you would like to sample.  And then you have a decision to make about a dessert crepe!  Ooh la la!  

Staff were dressed in traditional French garb (think white and blue striped seaman shirts) and speaking French!

Stuffed full of crepes, I was ready for fresh air and a promenade to our next destination, the Elphi.  On our first day in town, we viewed the Elphi from a distance, but Dr. H promised that a night-time visit has a magic all its own.  As we approached the Philharmonic Hall, its dazzling blue and white lights pulled us forward like bees to honey.  We were bewitched by the escalator, which curves over its 270-foot length as you ascend to the Plaza level.
A stroke of marketing genius,  the Plaza permits access without concert tickets - thousands of visitors cop an up-close view of the building's architecture, undoubtedly resolving on the spot to attend the next available performance.  And then, there is the panoramic vista of the harbor - everywhere you look, people lean on the railings, taking in the ships outlined by strings of lights, with Hamburg's skyline beyond.  Who can resist a romantic picture for two?


The night was still young when we crossed town to the Reeperbahn, Hamburg's legendary nightlife mile.  Its reputation as the red-light district jangled a few of my nerves, but I rested easy in the trustworthy hands of Dr. H.  Although the area offers "adult services" of every type, most are not obvious and many are on side streets.  In the end, the Reeperbahn reminded me of the music scene in Nashville, the neon of Las Vegas and a US-style Spring Break, rolled into one.  Dr. H took us to two of her favorite bars, and we danced our little feet off.  Before we boarded the train to head to her apartment, I was tickled to see a bar with my name.  Who knew?

The next day saw a late start (“old” people need their sleep), and it was mid-morning when the train swept us to Blankenese, on the western outskirts of Hamburg. Blankenese is a wealthy residential district known for its half-timbered fishermen’s houses and pre-war villas, many of which line the winding stairs of the Treppenviertel (German for “staircase quarter”) neighborhood.  I was fascinated by the contrast of traditional homes cheek to cheek with ultra-modern construction.  Just a guess – being fit is a requirement to live here; I read a statistic that the average mail carrier in this village covers 5,000 steps and 300 feet of elevation each day.


The rain had picked up again by the time we chose a lunch spot, but that did not deter us from outside dining.  As I reported in an earlier post, many restaurants provide heaters, blankets and even awnings to protect customers from the elements.  That said, my pumpkin soup was a warm welcome.
The restaurant offered a ring-side seat to the harbor action, as container ships were loaded by sky-high cranes.  Impossibly large cruise ships squeezed past the commercial operators, their captains somehow keeping them within the deepest parts of the channel.  Soon enough, we joined the fray on the ferry that transported us back to Hamburg. 

Although we were still satisfied from our lunch, Dr. H convinced us (it wasn’t too difficult) that we must try the fischbrochten at her favorite harbor-side shop.  We gazed into the glass case to select among these sandwiches, made with fish and complemented by one or more of the following: onions, pickles, remoulade, creamy horseradish sauce, ketchup or cocktail sauce.  Spousal Unit was in his element, recalling the salty, fresh fish of his youth.  (Of course, the souvenir emporiums beckoned and we documented our stay in Hamburg with his and hers t-shirts, and a shot glass for his bar.)


Too soon, it was our last day, and Dr. H laid a fine breakfast table before she returned to work.  We ran 6 miles (gotta do something to work off those calories) and finished our packing in time to head for the train to the airport.  We felt like locals when we grumbled about waiting FOUR MINUTES!






Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
 

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Click here to enter

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Mosaic Monday #61: Holiday Leftovers

Cheesecake made by the husband of my dear neighbor friend
The end of a year tends to bring out lists of all sorts – 15 Series Finales in 2019, Graded; Highest Paid CEOs in 2019; 15 Things that will Cost More in 2020; Notable Celebrity Deaths in 2019.
  
Make it the end of a decade and suddenly we are bombarded with additional inventories – Biggest Product Flops of the Decade; Things We Want to Leave in the 2010s; How our Phones became our Whole Lives in 10 Years.


Bloggers are not immune to this propensity – since New Year's Day I have seen all of the following in the blogosphere: A favorite photo for each month of 2019; The most popular posts from 2019; Favorite mosaics from 2019; a re-cap of key life events, complete with the posts that describe them.

But I find that I am not quite ready to let go of 2019, not yet.  You see, I have some unfinished business, some holiday leftovers, as it were.  So allow me to close this chapter, and then I will move on, with the rest of you!

#1 Son invested many an hour in band during his high school years, and with those fond memories in mind, we all looked forward to the Christmas Holiday Pops Concert performed by the Glacier Symphony.  Overall, it was an enjoyable mixture of popular tunes, classic orchestral works and new pieces. Unfortunately, we were seated near some young children who made enough noise to really detract from the concert, especially the quieter, introspective pieces.  And the kicking on the back of our seats didn’t help!  I am all for kids being exposed to the Symphony, but maybe they should be a little over two years old …



Upper right: Whitefish Lake
Our winter has been quite mild thus far, even alternating between snow and rain.  Fortunately, altitude on Big Mountain has permitted the ski season to continue, and two days of alpine frolic with #1 Daughter were joyful.  Also, we gave the kids a half-day snowmobile tour as a Christmas gift, and they thoroughly enjoyed it, despite some initial trepidation. 
A stop along the snowmobile trail

(Internet)
Movie nights were popular while our kids were here, and for the most part we have moved on from the Disney and Veggie Tales movies of their early years (although we did watch the live action version of Aladdin, as well as Paddington 2).  Other films included Late Night, Yesterday, and The Aeronauts.  I recommend all of them.  But by far and away the best movie was Klaus, a witty, charming movie that will warm your heart.  The plot is a clever depiction of how one selfless act can launch countless other selfless acts.  I know Christmas is over, but this is an uplifting story that I think is worthy at any time of year.  Just make sure you have a tissue box at hand!

In my last post, I mentioned Christmas crackers. I was intrigued to find that each of our crackers contained the history of Tom Smith, the inventor of this Christmas tradition, which seems to have spread from the UK to many other parts of the world.  

Joke from one of the crackers: What do you call an artist who sculpts with bicycle parts?  Cycle-Angelo

It just keeps getting better:  Why did the raisin go out with the prune?  Because he couldn’t find a date
Gifts from the crackers: Mouth freshener, Key Chain, Pen, Screwdriver

In that same post, I showed you one of my presents; now I can share the rest of my treasures.   
Left: Oriole Jelly Feeder (with Jelly)  
Upper right: Massage gift card, Gold earrings, Pill planner (am I THAT old?)
Lower right: Stroopwafels, Cedar and Balsam candle, Ferrero chocolates
Left: Moose scarf; slippers   Middle: Ballerina Giraffe - thanks, Mom!    Right:  Drawing pad/pencils
Early in December, the mail box yielded a catalog from Heifer International.  If you have never
heard of this, check it out!  You can give chickens, goats, water for life, heifers, and so on!
#1 Son purchased a flock of chickens in my name.  Inspiring!
During some holiday down time, I moved my trail cam a couple of times, but only captured more deer.  My favorite is the antler picture - imagine the size of the buck that goes with it!


As if to prepare a clean slate for the New Year, it began snowing on New Year’s Eve, not long after we had dropped #1 Daughter at the airport (de-icing almost caused her to miss her connection in Denver).  The snow continued to pile up, and I could not resist the opportunity for a walk in the white wonderland.  The only reason I returned home was the impending dark …
Can you see the snow flakes against the background of the house?




To add to the symbolism, New Year's Day brought blue skies and puffy clouds, and toward sunset, the clouds blushed pink.  A new beginning, a blank slate, the blush of youth, opening night, hitting the re-set button, a fresh start.  Yes, now I am ready for 2020.











Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Mosaic Monday #60: A Little Taste of Christmas

Felt board - a gift to #1 Daughter
Santa shot glasses - a gift to Spousal Unit
As quickly as it came, it went.  The wrapping paper, crumpled into snowball-sized shapes, waits to serve as fuel for our next fireplace inferno.  The spent poppers and shells of the Christmas crackers have been swept into the bin, save for the ribbons, which I keep for some as-yet-unimagined craft project.  The turkey has been picked over, the meaty bits in the Tupperware for sandwiches or the occasional late-night steal direct from the Fridge.  Yet the memories are as sweet as the brandied fruitcake that we enjoyed Christmas morning. 

I may only have a limited window to compose this post, but for all the right reasons - our kids are still here and I am maximizing my time with them.  So, I will give you a little taste of our Christmas through photos more so than the written word, but I think you will forgive me that, just this once?
No shortage of yummy snacks around the house!

Christmas Eve morning, we woke up to snow - a white Christmas after all!

Middle left: Maggie tired out from opening presents
Bottom left: Hand-made ornament for #1 Daughter
Middle: Listography book from #1 Daughter

The Christmas feast
Hand-made ornament for #1 Son

I pray that your Christmas brought you what you seek the most, be it peace, freedom, joy, good health, refuge, time with family, relief from sorrow, or a new pair of hop-a-long boots! 





Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Mosaic Monday #59: Christmas Contentment

Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one to you
"Merry Christmas Darling", written by Frank Pooler/Richard Carpenter

Are you still in the grip of the "Christmas rush"?  Leading up to December 13, I was feeling that crush.  #1 Son was due to arrive that evening, and I had a long list of to-dos: housecleaning, finishing the tree skirt, completing hand-made gifts, tying up loose ends on my various volunteer projects, decorating the house.  Unexpectedly, I was called upon for an evening shift at the Sparrow's Nest; it became a win-win in that I was able to work on one of my hand-made gifts at the same time.
This runner was an early Christmas gift from my mother-in-law
Preparing to cut the tree
But since then, my days have brought delightful relaxation.

First up?  Cutting and decorating our tree.  As I reported in last year's post, we are blessed to have a wide variety of trees on our property.  Spousal Unit and I had pre-selected two candidates, and #1 Son had the privilege to make the final choice.  Isn't this spruce a beauty?
Heave-ho, boys!
Tree nears the house
Drip dry in the entry
Tree in the stand, warming by the fire
We bust a gut when Spousal Unit went to install the angel on top of the tree.   (I will admit that she climbed into the place of honor a little bit out of order.  Traditionally, she is the last decoration on the tree, but logistics with a 15-foot tree dictate a different approach.  We employ a 10-foot step ladder to populate the upper half of the tree, and if you place ornaments on the lower branches while moving that ladder in and out and around the spruce, you are bound to break some delicate decorations!!!)

Anyway … imagine if you will, Spousal Unit near the top step of said ladder, armed with a marshmallow skewer.

"Glad Mom is capturing me as I fall to my death," he says.  (Note: capturing, as in photography, not catching, as in falling.)

He stretches forward carefully and maneuvers the angel onto a branch that is pointing straight up to the ceiling.

"Glad you have life insurance," #1 Son says.

But is the angel straight?  No, she leans, somewhat to the side and somewhat forward, as if preparing to fall to earth.

"That may be as good as it gets," #1 Son offers helpfully.

Spousal Unit withdraws the skewer and pokes with futility at the cotton.

"Yep, you might want to cut your losses," #1 Son says from the safety of the floor.

And so she remains, a bit tilted.  But isn't that a suitable metaphor for the human condition?  None of us are perfect.  And what better time than Advent and Christmas to strive for improvement?  "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Make straight the way of the Lord'" (John 1:23)

A couple of weeks ago, we were surprised and delighted to receive a medley of tree ornaments from a good friend.  Catering to our whims, he sent fishing-oriented decorations for Spousal Unit and moose-adorned baubles for me.

We have been debating about the size of the tree - taller than last year?  I dug through my archives, and hereby present a side-by-side comparison for you.  What do you think?
Left - 2018 tree                                                                 Right - 2019 tree
Did you notice the new tree skirt on the 2019 tree?!?  SO EXCITED to finally see it in place.  November 17 was the last post that showed progress on the skirt; at that time, it had three rows of burlap pleats.  The final skirt has 10 rows; I had planned to add three more, but at the time we were ready to put it under the tree, I realized it would be necessary to cut some slits in the remaining felt in order for the skirt to lie flat around the wooden structure that holds the spruce upright.  Boy, am I glad I didn't burn the midnight oil to attach those remaining rows!



Holidays are joyful
There's always something new
But ev'ryday's a holiday
When I'm near to you

Once the tree was complete, we turned our attention to other family traditions, such as board games, movie nights and baking cookies, often accompanied by Christmas music playing on our 52-year-old Magnavox stereo.  
I won Trivial Pursuit - 1980's version (but I am REALLY bad at trivia)
"Do we have any paperwork on the stereo?" queried Spousal Unit earlier this week.  For some time, he has been thinking we should replace the needle on this vintage Magnavox Astro-Sonic Radio Phonograph.  "If we have it, it would be in with the records on the storage side of the stereo," I responded.  And voila!  Look what we found!



It may not have helped with locating a new needle, but the paperwork was fascinating in its own right.  Mainly because there are not one but TWO receipts from Rike's Department store, dated four days apart.  I asked my Mom if she remembered a story about two stereos, but she said Dad handled all the purchasing at that time.  The receipts show two different model numbers, and the one with the later date was slightly more expensive - $414.44. To put that in perspective, the median household income in 1967 as $7,143 and an average house would set you back $24,600! Stated another way, $414 in 1967 money would be worth $3,000 today.  Wow!  Here is Marshmallow World by Johnny Mathis, a vintage song spun on that very stereo.



My friend wrote the following: This card reminded me of your
beautiful new Christmas tree skirt.  Awww!
As December 25 draws near, each day brings new Christmas cards, and an occasional holiday surprise such as a neighbor dropping off a plate of home-made cookies.  Yum!

The lights on my tree
I wish you could see
I wish it ev'ry day
Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say

I am content.  The cat is on my lap, and a Frasier Fir candle is casting its pine scent into the air.  I sip a holiday highball, and my thoughts turn to our daughter, who will arrive Monday morning.  Our family foursome will be complete.  What could be more fulfilling than that?


I wish you Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year, too

Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme where we get together to share our photo mosaics and collages.
Please include at least one photo mosaic/collage in your post.
The link will be open from 1 p.m. Sunday until 11 p.m. Monday (U.S. Mountain time).
Remember to add the link to your Mosaic Monday post and not the one to your blog.
Please link back to this post so that your readers will be able to visit and enjoy more wonderful mosaics; taking the MM blog button from my sidebar is an easy way to link back.
As host I will visit every participant and leave a comment so that you know I stopped by.
Please try and visit as many other blogs as you can, especially those that join in later, so that everyone's creativity can be appreciated fully.
Thank you for joining in today and sharing your mosaics with us.
 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter
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