EXPATS AGAIN! Experiencing other cultures while enriching our global view.



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Munich, Germany
I am married to the love of my life and am finally able to shower him with all of the attention he deserves. I am now retired and living the life here in Europe. I am an American, he is an Australian, and this is our second overseas address. The first was Shanghai, China and now Munich, Germany. Come along and live the life with us as we continue our adventure of discovering all Europe has to offer.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I can only hope to have a few of these moves at this guys age! 

Friday, June 25, 2010


This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen.  The church above is called the Frauenkirche in Dresden, Germany.  The city still has buildings in ruin since the bombing raids of 1945.  This church was completed in 2005 by privately raised funds, but until then it remained in ruins.

Above is a building in the process of restoration.  If you look closely, you can see the motifs and bas reliefs that are being restored.  

Here is a close up, above

It seems like everywhere you look, building is in process.

We were serenaded by this group of band members with some spectacular voices. 

The Furstenzug,  the Saxon sovereigns, is truly an awesome sight.  There is my hubby walking along the footpath.

Dresden has rejuvenated itself into a lively and important city.

Horses in line for buggy rides through the city.

I have been to many cities, but none of them has affected me like Dresden.  Knowing that the Aldstadt, old town, was nearly wiped out and the civilian casualties were close to 25,000 gives a person experiencing the city for the first time a ghostly feeling.  Over 8,000 pounds of explosives were dropped on this part of the city by the RAF and 650,000 incendiaries were dropped by the USA Air Force.

Kurt Vonnegut saw the raid when he was a POW and wrote the novel Slaughterhouse-Five in memory of that experience.  I read this novel in high school over 40 years ago.  At the time, it didn't resonate with me -- a young girl anticipating college and all life had to offer.  Now, with more life behind me, I stood in the courtyard above and imagined the photos I've seen since of bodies filled high to the sky.  Today, they are still debating the necessity of bombing Dresden.  Yes, it did contribute to the end of Hitlers reign of terror, but the cost of the innocents is what lingers to haunt visitors today.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Happy Father's Day to all of you dads out there!  Hopefully, you are with your children and family today and love and joy is filling your household. 

I thought I would pay tribute to my father today, even though he passed away back in 1994 at the age of 70.  When I think of celebrating Father's Day, all kinds of emotions come to the surface of what it really means to be a father.  Most people would say that being a father means being there to guide and teach your youngsters.  I would agree.  In my case, that was very true. But not every child is so fortunate to have their father "living with them."  Circumstances beyond a father's control can have them living for extended periods, and in many cases much of their child's youth, away from their precious children.  Servicemen stationed away from home come to mind, but so do fathers who are divorced.  Fathers working on oil rigs, in different cities, and in lands far away also come to mind.  My heart goes out to each and every one of you fathers who, by misfortune, or circumstance, have separated you from your children.  May your Father's day be most blessed.

My father was a true "father figure" in every sense of the term.  He was one of those "larger than life" figures that commanded respect and largely, he got it from everyone, except perhaps my mother.  To her, he was her husband and whenever he received accolades or awards for achievement, she had a way of reminding him that he put his pants on the same way every other man did. Although loving, she had a way of bringing a person right down to earth. God love her too--she too is deceased.

I had a eerie experience while writing this post.  To verify some dates, I Goggled my dad and a whole list of articles came up with his achievements throughout his lifetime--even his obituary was there.  But, in between the numerous entries, were other articles about a man with the very same name, in the very same city, and he even attended the very same university where my father dedicated his entire adult career.  The only difference was my father was an educator and a coach of men, whereas the other gentleman, if I may call him that, was a convicted murderer who was executed this year.  The very same name--very same city--and very same university--but how different their lives turned out. 

To my sister, brother, and myself, our father could do no wrong.  We were in awe of him. Yet, we had a very close, loving relationship with him.  He was the voice of reason and was never out of control.  Today, I think back and realize that never once in my life did I ever hear my father use a swear word.  Now, my mother could out cuss with the best of them, but in spite of her Irish temper and colorful language--she never succeeded in getting my father to resort to profanity. I learned to respect his restraint.  

Language, to my father, was so important that he developed a vocabulary that had us running to the dictionary (no computers in those days) to discover what the heck he was talking about.  When he developed a brain tumor at the age of 69, his speech was the last thing to go and it faded away --bit by bit.  The doctors said that it was because of the fact that he had built and utilized such a large vocabulary that he was able to make sense, verbally, for as long as he did.  My love of language and reading is directly traceable to my father.  So much so, that I became a teacher of English; a teacher, like my father.

At one time, early in my father's life, he trained to be an Episcopalian priest.  The story goes that he went all the way up until his ordination when he met my mother and then,  that was the end of the priesthood.  The family always used to joke about that one with the usual kinds of humorous jabs at my mother.  She took it all in good spirits.  Another story we grew up with was the story of how they met.  My mother told us that she was dancing at a dance hall and remembered twirling around with her flouncy skirt, high heels, and long, black hair when she noticed two men enter, look at her, and flip a coin.  The next moment one of them, my father, cut in and asked her to dance.  She said they both wanted to dance with her and, "Your father won!"  My father would tell the very same story, but when it came to who won the coin toss, he would always leave us laughing by saying, "Your mother thinks I won."

Dad was the true disciplinarian in the house.  Very early on, when we were young, he was the Dean of Boys at the local high school.  I can't tell you how awful it is to be in high school and have your father at the same school in charge of disciplining boys--the ones you wished to date.  At least in college, I thought, I will have my own life back.  It was at the start of my freshman year in college when my father took his position at my university as director of athletics--so much for dating a jock, I thought.  But I enjoyed seeing my dad on campus, visiting him in his office, and lunching with him at the student union.  And then, of course, we always had the best basketball, football, and baseball season tickets. Another perk was the  many exciting out of state games we attended as a family.  Some of the best memories we have were of the championship games in Nevada, Florida, and California, to name a few.  

I guess my father's strong personal relationship with God had a large influence on me while growing up.  Watching him learn about his brain tumor and telling me that it was his cross to bear and never hearing a word of disappointment or fear from him while he knew all along the frightening aspects of his disease, was a true testimony as to the kind of man he really was.  It was my mother who pushed him to seek other opinions.  Get radiation and chemotherapy--she was afraid to lose him.  If left to my dad, he would have gotten a bottle of scotch and hit every golf course he could before his day came to meet his maker.  He had no fear of death; he knew he was spending eternity with his holy father.

Dad was laid back, whereas my mother was a ball of anxiety.  It was fun to watch them together as we children got older.  Even the grandchildren would laugh at their antics.  My mother was no nonsense; it used to tickle my father to raise her hackles whenever he could.  After he set the trap, true to her nature, my mother would fall for it --every time-- while my dad and the rest of us kids/grand kids would laugh hilariously at my mother's expense.  Most times, she would get the joke and laugh with us.  But god forbid, if she didn't.  But by then, it was even funnier to us kids. 

One of the things I remember most about my father was that in spite of his very busy work life, he dedicated all of his spare time to our family.  He made sure we attended church with him, he built us an ice rink in the back yard every winter and we attended every football game when he coached at the high school and college level.  In summers, he owned a country club and we spent whole summers with him bouncing around in the water, joining the swim and diving teams, and having the time of our lives.  He was the parent we went to for advice; he inspired us, guided us, and encouraged us. 

In the Mid American Conference Football League, there is an award named after my father.  Notable players in the MAC who are regarded as the best players in the league each year are presented with the award in my father's name.  Ben Rothlisberger, Randy Moss, and Chad Pennington, to name a few,  are recipients of this award. The award could have been named after anyone, but the fact that they chose my father's name tells me how very respected he was.

Dad was six-foot-four.  A powerful man physically with very large hands, according to my two sons, his grandsons, who would shudder at the thought of being on the receiving end of those hands if they disobeyed.  He was an athlete in high school and college.  He fought in Patton's army in World War II, came back to study on the G.I. bill and got his Master's degree in Administration.  I can tell you that it was my father who inspired me to become a teacher as well, to become a lifelong learner, and to also complete my Master's degree.  I owe a great debt of gratitude to my father for instilling in me a work ethic which has blessed me time and time again in my lifetime.

I love you, dad.  Thank you for all you have given me.  You are the best father a child could ever have and we have never forgotten all that you have taught us.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Last night, in bed, while I had been sleeping for hours, I felt something bite my leg.  It wasn't a painful bite, but I knew it was a bite, or did I?  I was in such a deep sleep that I thought I had been dreaming I had been bitten.  In my sleepy stupor, I moved my legs across the mattress sheet in a quick movement just to make sure that if it wasn't a dream, the intruder would leave, schnell!

All was well until I woke up this morning to find the crumpled body of the spider on my clean white sheets- YUK! 

In the future, I will know to WAKE THE HECK UP--dream or no dream. 

My fear of spiders is tantamount to my fear of nuclear annihilation.  I know they have a purpose on the planet--just not MY planet, thank you.  In fact, I abide them so much, that I have had to scroll down to write this post, just so I won't see that ungodly creature above. And I purposefully left the photo small--sorry, but even the thought of a large spider sends me into fits.  

Do you have an unreasonable fear? 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Your readership is very important to me.  My blog is continually in a process of change and your comments are a big reason.  Initially,  it was intended to be a record of our move to Munich.  My husband, an Aussie, and I, an American, are adjusting to the new Bavarian culture here in Germany.  However, it has morphed to a place where my photography and our travels throughout Europe and the world are also  being cataloged. After one year in Germany, life is beginning to become familiar, although, at any moment in time we can sharply be brought back to the reality that we are really aliens in this country and still have a lot to learn.  On these days, my posts become a way to express confusion, frustration, and sometimes hilarity at the surprises life throws our way. 

In addition, every Wednesday I step entirely out of my comfort zone, so to say, to include a weekly entry titled, "Pour Your Heart Out, " where I attempt to share what is on my mind that week, that day, or that minute.  From time to time I add posts about current events, recipes, art, and really, just about anything that interests me. 

What you think about what I have to say gives me the direction I need to go with this.  I am constantly amazed at the variety of responses and often a reader will comment on an aspect of something I have never considered.  Furthermore, I have learned so much from my readers about life here in Germany, places we should consider to visit, recommendations, and shared experiences.  

I want to get to know each of you and what is important to you.  I visit the blogs of my followers and find I have been enlightened, educated, inspired, and humored by their posts.  Like you, I am finding that people the world over are trying to do the same thing, communicate through the blogosphere.

The world is not as large as it once seemed to be. For me, blogging is a tool of communicating how much more we are alike than we are different.

I hope you take a moment to scroll down to the bottom of this page, on the left-hand side, for a list of current followers and click the "Follow" button so that I, too, can become better acquainted with you.

It is my pleasure to have you visit anytime!  Settle in and stay as long as you wish. 

Monday, June 14, 2010


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A Saxony Vineyard in Meissen where they produce beautiful wines is a sight to behold.  The history of making wine in this region along the river Elbe dates back centuries.  I've done my research and here is what I've learned about the different wines from Meissen. You don't have to come to Germany to taste them because you can certainly find them in your local wine shop world-wide.
   A popular wine from the region is the Muller Thurgau which is a mild, fragrant wine that is comparable to the freshness of a Riesling.  It has a subtle nutmeg note.  Another is the Gold Riesling from a grape variety only grown in the Elbe Valley.  This wine is light, fruity, and crisp.  

Riesling is thought to have been first planted during the 9th century on the Rhine.  It's characteristics are a full-flavored wine with a flowery bouquet.  The Kerner is a new selection and is considered fresh and more acidic. 
The Traminer is one of the best quality wines of the area with a spicy fragrance reminiscent of roses.

The oldest grape variety is the Chasselas that is used mainly as a table wine.  The Pearl of Zala is a new Hungarian Variety.  It is classified between the Muller Thurgau and Morio Muscat.

The Bacchus has an aroma of black currant and nutmeg. The Scheuebe is a more established wine with a full body.  Then the Grauer Burgunder which goes well with cheeses.  They also produce a Pinot Gris is treasured because of its honey bouquet and fiery taste.

Try serving one of these German wines at your next gathering or dinner party.  Above is a table set for wine tasting at the vineyard we visited in Meissen. 

These growers know a thing or two about growing grapes and are eager to introduce you to their many varieties. 

And if you're not a wine drinker (is there such a person?), you still will have the most spectacular view of the city of Meissen on top the hills surrounded with rolling vineyards.  What's not to like about that?

Saturday, June 12, 2010


The FORMING stage:

Throwing pottery is one of my favorite things to do. Once I learn where I can work on a potters wheel here in Germany, I'm there. Of course, I dabble.
 The gentleman in the photo above is a master potter and he works at the famous Meissen Porcelain Factory in Meissen, Germany which is near Dresden. He began by throwing clay on the potters wheel and formed it into a medium sized cone. He used his thumb to make a hole in the middle and then ended up with a small vase like form that he put into a mold. Using a sponge, he gently pressed on the inside of the mold making the clay smooth, uniform and thin. What he is holding out for you to see is how the clay looks after it has come out of the mold. It has not been fired yet.

The potter took the mold and set this small head on top.  I have no idea why he did it, I know it isn't supposed to go there, but perhaps he was trying to illustrate what can be added to pieces.

The next step in the process is the intricate work done with clay tools to add and subtract from the work.  Using different clay tools and slip (liquid clay), the artist can refine the work.

Notice how she has given texture to the piece and the folds in the cloth are crisp and precise.  

The piece on the left has not been bisque fired and is called greenware. Greenware may be in any form of drying: wet, damp, soft leather-hard, leather-hard, stiff leather-hard, dry, and bone dry.  In this form it is very fragile and must be loaded into the kiln very carefully.  Once fired, they become ceramic or porcelain like the pieces on the right.  

This step is also used to add pieces such as the flower petals she is holding to the greenware.   She formed them by hand by simply rubbing the clay into small coils and forming the petals in the palm of her hand.  She will use slip to join them together.


After the piece has been fired in the kiln (a furnace) the decoration can now be under glazed.  Notice how she holds the bowl under the table for stability.  The under glaze is green, but once fired again it will become blue.

Very detailed work and requires a steady hand!

The first step to applying the under glaze is to have a pattern applied using a stencil like the one above.  The Meissen Company has stencils and molds that date back to it's conception in 1710.  They can retrieve any pattern for duplication.

Once the stencil is applied, it looks like plate #2 above.

Here, the artist has used the stencil to apply the glaze in different widths and values.

A clear glaze is applied over the plate (on the left) and it is fired again.  It will appear clear after the firing.

This is the completed plate--notice it is blue and white upon completion.

Decoration applied on top of a layer of a layer of glaze is called overglazing .  Here the artist is applying an overglaze decoration of gold to one of Meissens' popular dragon design. 

It is a painstaking process with an expensive media.  You can be sure there is no waste.

Here are some "Final Products" from the Meissen Porcelain Factory.  If you have a few grand or more laying about, you could probably afford the tea set to the far right.  Since Meissen is the most famous European porcelain manufacturer today and owns one of the oldest trademarks in existence, you will not be purchasing a piece of porcelain, but making an investment in something that was once owned by the upper classes of the major cities in Europe.  When the wealthy class emerged in the United States people like the Vanderbilts started their own collection. 
Now, many of these collections are in the world's great museums.

Tableware in the famous green vine pattern is one of the more popular patterns.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I watched this video clip today and found myself in a weeping heap.  Of course,  I understand about the many sacrifices our men and women in the armed forces make in order to serve our country. But, seldom do I think of the families who give up their loved ones for us to enjoy our freedom.  Each time I am reminded of this, it still has the power to give me goosebumps. 

These unselfish families who know the risk involved in their loved ones' enlisting in the armed forces face the day-to-day problems associated with having a mother, father, sister, brother, or child away for extended periods of time in the face of danger.  But can any of us who do not have a loved one in the military really realize the hardships they face?   I go about my daily life with the luxury of having my spouse here for me at a moments notice, or at the very least a mere flight away. My children are safe ensconced in their families. 

Today, and every day, I need to give thanks to these families and to support them whenever and however I can.  Their lives are so difficult and, speaking for myself, I take their sacrifices for granted.

Watching this video clip will remind all of us of the great debt we owe to these families.  God bless them all and their loved ones who are sacrificing so much for us.  

(Get out your tissues, you'll need them).