2020 March Winds Bring More Than April Showers.

March 23, 2020, we’ve been in self-quarantine for thirteen days. It sounds like the beginning of a dystopian novel. It’s not, it’s just an unexpected beginning to a different way of doing things.

Seen on our walk at Longwood Gardens. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Seen on our walk at Longwood Gardens. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

At the beginning of the month we had warnings that we should be a little more careful and cleaner around each other because of a new Corona virus called Corvid-19. In February I started to buy a few extra canned goods and other foods that keep well. I’m happy I purchased a pack of toilet paper then. I wish I had picked up a bigger pack. My sister-in-law and I met at Longwood Gardens for a walk and carefully avoided door handles and washed our hands. I was asked to present at Career Day at The College School at the University of Delaware and was careful not to touch anything and wash my hands.

Career Day. Sharing with kids age six to thirteen about how important artists are in society and sharing artwork. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman
Career Day. Sharing with kids ages six to thirteen about how important artists are in society and sharing artwork. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman

Andreas’ sister Christina and husband George came over for dinner. I also traveled to New Jersey with the Trashy Women met to meet the Philadelphia group the Dumpster Diving Divas. Besides extra hand washing it was almost life as normal.

The video illustrates how to pronounce the letter u with an umlaut in German. Homeschooling.

The next week Andreas and I visited a friend who shared gooseberry plants with us, but I chose not to go to my welding class because it involved a small group of people.

Andreas and puppy Puccini dig out gooseberry plants on Maggies farm. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas and puppy Puccini dig out gooseberry plants on Maggie’s farm. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Welding project number one was a bottle tree. An older neighbor walking by commented that she really liked it. That made me feel a little better about trashing up the yard. Lol. Photo and bottle tree by Dragonfly Leathrum
Welding project number one was a bottle tree. An older neighbor walking by commented that she really liked it. That made me feel a little better about trashing up the yard. Lol. Photo and bottle tree by Dragonfly Leathrum
Welding project number two was a bird made from a shovel, clippers, rebar and a piece of an old art project created by Andreas' step-son David for the tail. Photo and bird by Dragonfly Leathrum
Welding project number two was a bird made from a shovel, clippers, rebar and a piece of an old art project created by Andreas’ step-son David for the tail. Photo and bird by Dragonfly Leathrum

I also canceled a trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum with friends. After my Monday German class, the University canceled classes and went to an early spring break saying they would be back in a week or two and prepared the professors to teach online. My friend Linda came to the house and we recovered the kitchen chairs which saved me money since they won’t need to be replaced now.

Week three and I cancelled all of my private students saying that we would probably be able to meet again by the end of the month. All other meetings and meet ups are cancelled. I am still walking with friends but we stay at least six feet away from each other. I wear gloves when I get the mail because the mail person does not, then the mail sits in a basket for a while before I open it. I thought a project would be good to keep my mind off of the news, so I painted an immersive mural in our bedroom. I completed the mural including an intense clean of the room in six days. It was wonderful to work without distractions.

Painting branches on Aspen trees in the bedroom. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Painting branches on Aspen trees in the bedroom. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Now we sleep in a snowy Aspen forest. Soon I'll add birds and other creatures. It's a big change ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Now we sleep in a snowy Aspen forest. Soon I’ll add birds and other creatures. It’s a big change ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas works from home without his normal distractions as well.

Andreas' home office. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ home office. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Home office option two. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Home office option two. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Continuing with projects will be good for us. We have decided to plant vegetables in our few sunny garden patches. These are hard to find in our wooded yard so, some of the vegetables will go in pots. Andreas is enthralled with his tomato plants. He is babying the tiny sprouts moving them to different sunny spots in the house throughout the day and checking them often.

Andreas carefully watering his tomatoes. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas carefully watering his tomatoes. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
On a strange note, I started knitting this snowy looking, winter scarf for my friend saying that hopefully it will bring snow and days off of work for her. Well now she's home from work until at least May. I think it worked too well. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
On a strange note, I started knitting this snowy looking, winter scarf for my friend saying that hopefully it will bring snow and days off of work for her. Well now she’s home from work until at least May. I think it worked too well. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Today begins week four. We woke up early to be at the grocery store by 7am in the rain. I had hoped that it wouldn’t be crowded then. It was crowded, there were no disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer available for customers and half of the cashiers weren’t wearing gloves. We were. Andreas came shopping with me. It was very surreal. A lot of the shelves were empty, no one was talking, everyone was avoiding each other, some had masks and gloves. Most, mostly men, did not.

We are not unhappy to be quarantined. To me it is an easier isolation than I experienced living in Germany. I have my art studio and supplies. I have commissions that need to be filled and a German class to study for. Andreas has his work and his students to teach online. We are busy and healthy. Our family in Germany and the States are healthy too. We hope that everyone reading this is healthy and has work and hobbies to keep them busy. Our Governor is shutting down our state a little more strictly tomorrow until May 15th now. He has issued his fifth modification to his State of Emergency declaration ordering us to stay at home and closing all non-essential businesses. The University will not re-open to students until next fall and the visit from Andreas’ parents that we were looking forward to in May has been cancelled for now. We are incredibly grateful for electricity, the internet, you and each other.

What’s next? Stay home and stay safe all of you all over the world.

Do you have Bingo?
Do you have Bingo?

Feeling Fünfzig in February. (50)

Rough start to February for this half century complainer. I chose to go back to my alma mater to take a German language class with my brother-in law George. My Deutsch class at the Saengerbund is fun, but not challenging. We haven’t covered much and we’ve been going over Christmas words for two months. I thought it would be fairly easy to sign up as a listener for a beginning class at the U of D. Ha ha, no, not easy. (maybe for me) I had a lot of problems with the UD website trying to figure out how to register for the class as a faculty spouse and not a student. Thirty years ago, I would go to the registrar’s office and they would help me figure it out. So, I decided to do this. I walked into the registrar building and no one was around. After a few minutes someone poked their head out of an office door and asked to help me. I told him what I needed and he looked at me with pity in his eyes and told me to sign in. I said where, on a computer? He pointed to the screens against the wall. His eyes once full of pity now rolled up into his head and he said yes in a slow, calm voice.

Ten minutes later (I was the only one sitting there) a woman came from another office and offered to help me. I told her I was having trouble registering and she said I needed to do it on the computer. I said yes, I know, but where and how? I asked her for a pen to write down the instructions she was giving me. She looked at me with surprise. “A pen?” she asked. Yes, I said, I need to write this down. There wasn’t a pen to be found in her office. Eventually she found one down the hall. Everything she told me was useless. George eventually figured out how to register and we signed up in time.

We have a lot of homework in this class.
We have a lot of homework in this class.

The class has been great. We love the teacher and the work and pace are challenging. I do feel old sitting across from my high school friend’s son and a lot of the videos are geared toward college kids. (Andreas says they’re “modern”) I got 100% on my first quiz!

The new car has me feeling old too. It has a slow start (must be a hybrid thing) and I find myself driving slow and careful like an old lady. I’ve been gradually learning all of the buttons and new gadgetry stuff with the computer. I still can’t get used to the keyless entry and start. I don’t like it. (She mumbles under her breath, humbug!)

AND ANOTHER THING, my stupid old teeth. I went to a new dentist this month. She’s Andreas’ dentist. (very young) Her office is modern. I caught myself using the word newfangled to the hygienist a few times. After all of my newfangled x-rays she informed me that I had seven cavities, needed two root canals and two crowns. WHAT! Do you have any idea how much that is going to cost!?, I asked her. She didn’t, but said that someone would eventually call me. Holy mackerel, I’m the kid with the good teeth who never gets a cavity. Doesn’t she know that?

Studying in the dentist office. I'll be here every Tuesday for a while.
Studying in the dentist office. I’ll be here every Tuesday for a while. My two hour visit this morning cost $2,000. Not kidding.

Ok, enough boohooing about feeling old. Thanks for listening and yes, I hear some of you saying, “Just wait..hahaha.”

In January’s blog I mentioned that I was walking three miles a day with friends. Now I’m walking every other day with them and to class on the days in between. I love it, it’s great and I’ve lost a whole pound in two months. I know, impressive. Yay old people metabolism. Shoot me.

Andreas and I had a wonderful Valentine’s Day in our own weird way. Our tradition is to buy a painting we both like. This year it was a portrait by Linda Harris Reynolds. Somehow, with our opposite tastes in art, we chose this and we love it.

Portrait of Diana McDonald Keller in oil by Linda Harris Reynolds.
Portrait of Diana McDonald Keller in oil by Linda Harris Reynolds.

Spring, or at least spring flowers seem to be here early this year. Snowdrops and crocuses are blooming in February and maybe we’ve had more warm days than cold. We volunteered to participate in the Newark Arts Alliance Garden Tour in June and we are trying to prepare the garden ahead of time. I think it’s making Andreas nervous.

The first crocuses have bloomed in the neighbor's garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The first crocuses have bloomed in the neighbor’s garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas helps neighbor Francis with his early spring clean up. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas helps neighbor Francis with his early spring clean up. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I began a welding class with the Trashy Women last week. So far, I really enjoy it. I thought it would be scary or difficult, but we have a great instructor.

With instructor John heating rebar with a flame torch to bend it.
With instructor John heating rebar with a flame torch to bend it.
MIG welding a rebar bottle tree for the garden. Photo by Jamie Holbrook Troiani
MIG welding a rebar bottle tree for the garden. Photo by Jamie Holbrook Troiani

I was also given the opportunity to speak to my friend Kathy’s fourth grade class about what it’s like to live on a research vessel in the Arctic. Her class of six nine-year-old boys was very interested in the ship and the icebergs. They had so many questions for me. I showed them my photos, videos from the German Icebreaker Polastern’s current project, and let them try on Andreas’ polar work suits. It was fun, and it must have gone well because I’ve been invited back for Career Day next week.

Showing the kids where our ship traveled near the Scoresby Sund. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman
Showing the kids where our ship traveled near the Scoresby Sund. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman
Helping a 9yr old into a polar work suit. He looks warm. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman
Helping a 9yr old into a polar work suit. He looks warm. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman

In the studio this month my attention has been on finishing a painting for a high school friend that I’ve been working on since September. It has been much more challenging than I anticipated, but It’s turning out well.

This painting is complicated (for me) both in execution and subject matter. Grace Jones is larger than life in so many ways. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
This painting is complicated (for me) both in execution and subject matter. Grace Jones is larger than life in so many ways. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

I’ll leave you with this photo of my little cousin Jason. He’s celebrating his 37th birthday today. I’m so old!! Happy birthday, Jason!

Bonnie, Jason and I in the mid 1980s.
Bonnie, Jason and I in the mid 1980s.

 

 

January 2020

January can be a slow, dark month; this was not my experience. We started the month with a New Year’s Day hike in White Clay Creek State Park with friends. Every year I tell myself I will/ should exercise more. Since the middle of the month I’ve been walking three miles every morning with my friends Mary and Colin. I’m still having a hard time matching their speed, they’ve been walking together for the last two years.

With tree pants in White Clay Creek State Park. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
With tree pants on a hike in White Clay Creek State Park. Photo by Andreas Muenchow, filters added by Dragonfly

The Trashy Women Artist Collective is busy. We took our show down at the Book Place in Oxford, PA at the beginning of the month and set up for a February opening at the Art Den in Rising Sun, MD last week. In the middle of the month we met for a meeting with a sewing project. We exchanged a lot of trash, but didn’t sew much. The meeting did inspire me to sew a new piece for our February show.

Trashy Maggie holds up a bag sewn by Trashy Jamie for Trashy Trebs. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Trashy Maggie holds up a bag sewn from a shirt by Trashy Jamie for Trashy Trebs. Photo by Trashy Dragonfly Leathrum
Jacket, scarf and hat created by Dragonfly Art Studios for the Trashy Women show at the Art Den. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Jacket, scarf and hat created by Dragonfly Art Studios for the Trashy Women show at the Art Den. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Also created in the studio this month were the stained glass award windows for the Delaware Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge. The participants who raise the most money for the organization are presented with a window.

Polar Bear stained glass windows for the Delaware Special Olympics. Glass and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Polar Bear stained glass windows for the Delaware Special Olympics. Glass and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas helps me photograph the Polar Bears on a cold day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas helps me photograph the Polar Bears on a cold day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I’m happy to say I sold a painting this month to a coffee shop. This is a broken skateboard I painted in acrylic from a former skateboard shop on Haines Street. (The blue building) I thought it would be nice to turn the street in front of the building into a garden and add goats. Recently the coffee shop, Little Goat moved into the building. I think the painting found a good home there.

Little Goat painting by Dragonfly Leathrum. Photo by Dain Simons
Little Goat painting by Dragonfly Leathrum. Photo by Dain Simons

My art car is getting older and starting to have some issues, so Andreas and I decided to purchase a more reliable car. We bought a hybrid from friends that I used to work with at a Saturn dealership over a decade ago who now work for Hyundai. We’ve had the car two weeks now and love the 55 mpg. Andreas has synced his phone and figured out the computer, I’m more concerned with driving. Together we’re figuring out new to us technology.

Jeff, me, James and the new Hyundai, otherwise known as the blank canvas. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Jeff, me, James and the new Hyundai, otherwise known as the blank canvas. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

I won a contest at a local art supply store with this photo of the art car in front of the store’s mural.

Art car at Jerry's Artarama. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art car at Jerry’s Artarama. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Teaching is going well. One of my students decided last minute that she wanted to apply for the local art high school so we rushed a portfolio. That was a little stressful but we got through it.

One of my private students working on her portfolio.
One of my private students working on her portfolio.
Her figure drawing of me. ha ha
Her figure drawing of me. ha ha

At the end of the month I was invited to show the artwork I created in Germany at the Chapel Street Theater. The event was hosted by the Newark Partnership and was well attended.

With my paintings at the Chapel Street Theater. Photo by Terry Foreman
With my paintings at the Chapel Street Theater. Photo by Terry Foreman

January ended on a very happy note as we celebrated the marriage of my cousin Scott and his new wife Robin.

Welcome to the family, Robin!
Welcome to the family, Robin!

I hope your year is off to a good start too.

 

Happy New Year/ Frohes neues Jahr

Andreas and I challenged each other to create a blog today (New Year’s Eve.). It has been a while since either of us has had the time to write.

Andreas working on his blog. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas working on his blog. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

In Germany last year we had many events to write about and many shareable photos as we traveled a few times a month. Since we’ve returned to the States, we’ve only taken a weekend away to Bethany Beach, Delaware to celebrate our first Anniversary. The beach in December was cold and rainy, and we enjoyed the empty beaches, movie theater and restaurants.

Andreas on South Bethany Beach in December. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas on South Bethany Beach in December. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We are back to old routines. Andreas taught a Time Series Analysis class at the University of Delaware this fall and is actively serving on University committees again. I have reconnected with most of my private students from 2018 and have picked up a few new ones as well.

One of my private student's finishing up he sea shell drawing. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
One of my private student’s finishing up her sea shell drawing. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas’ sister and our brother-in-law moved into their new house this month. They have been waiting in our house since last spring for their house to be built. We enjoyed having them as house sitters and when we returned from sabbatical we enjoyed their company after spending the year alone. What a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better.

Happy new homeowners. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Happy new homeowners. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Facetiming Kaffee Klatsch with their brother and our sister-in-law in Diez Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Facetiming Kaffee Klatsch with their brother and our sister-in-law in Diez Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Some new routines for me include daily studio time to work on commissions and time to take classes like portrait painting at the Centreville Art Students League and beginning German at the Delaware Saengerbund. I also volunteer at the Newark Arts Alliance again and serve as Board Secretary. I enjoyed volunteering for the NAA Events Committee this autumn to help create and execute a fundraising event.

Iceberg stained glass created for the Newark Arts Alliance fundraising event. Photo and artwork by Dragonfly Leathrum
Iceberg stained glass created for the Newark Arts Alliance fundraising event. Photo and artwork by Dragonfly Leathrum
My portrait painting class with Artist Linda Harris Reynolds pictured here working on her demo. Centreville Art Students League. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
My portrait painting class with Artist Linda Harris Reynolds pictured here working on her demo. Centreville Art Students League. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The Trashy Women Artist Collective has also been very active. Since my last writing we had two shows. One at the Gallery at La Cigale in Mt. Gretna, Pennsylvania and another at the Bookplace in Oxford, PA. Two of us from the group, Maggie Creshkoff and myself participated in a recycling art show at the State Department Building in Washington DC. Trashy Women Trebs Thompson offered a glass mosaic making workshop on her Whimsical Farm.

Trashy Women having fun at an art fundraiser in Chesapeake City, MD
Trashy Women having fun at an art fundraiser in Chesapeake City, MD
Trebs and Maggie at the Gallery at La Cigale Trashy Women show. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Trebs and Maggie at the Gallery at La Cigale Trashy Women show. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Trashy Women show at the Bookplace Galley in Oxford, PA. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Trashy Women show at the Bookplace Galley in Oxford, PA. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sitting with my artwork in The State Department in Washington DC. Baby Iceberg windows on the front of the table. Photo by Maggie Creshkoff
Sitting with my artwork in The State Department in Washington DC. Baby Iceberg windows on the front of the table. Photo by Maggie Creshkoff

Andreas and I had our first Christmas in our home. It was quiet and relaxing in contrast to the past two years. We hosted a small gathering on Christmas Eve. and then spent Christmas day relaxing and visiting friends.

Christmas Eve with two of my favorite, former co-workers. It's always a party in the kitchen. Photo by Lauren
Christmas Eve with two of my favorite, former co-workers. It’s always a party in the kitchen. Photo by Lauren
Andreas' favorite Christmas present. Safety first. He bought me tickets to see Star Wars AND watched the movie with me. He doesn't know anything about Star Wars so this was a big deal ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ favorite Christmas present. Safety first. He bought me tickets to see Star Wars AND watched the movie with me. He doesn’t know anything about Star Wars so this was a big deal ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

In the days since we’ve been a bit lazy reading, eating Christmas cookies, and binge-watching The Crown on Netflix. Surprising, we found a show that we both enjoy. In contrast to last year’s insane fireworks display in Bremerhaven, we plan to spend New Year’s Eve at home with a DVD and a fire like a boring old couple ha ha.

Happy New Year/ Frohes neues Jahr to you and your families!

Partying like it's 2019. Happy New year! Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Partying like it’s 2019. Happy New year! Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Beach Days

Calm seas and dolphins in South Bethany in August. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Calm Atlantic seas and dolphins at South Bethany Beach, Delaware in August. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I was offered the use of a Bethany beach house for a few days this week. I love the beach even though I sunburn when I get near one.

A beach lover for a long time. In the 70's I used a t-shirt to avoid bad sunburns. I remember usually burning the worst on the backs of my knees.
A beach lover for a long time. In the 70’s I used a t-shirt to avoid bad sunburns. I remember usually burning the worst on the backs of my knees.
These days I hide under a hat and umbrella. Photo by Glenn Davies
These days I hide under a hat and umbrella. Photo by Glenn Davies

There is some magic thing about being near the ocean. Maybe it’s the extra ions in the air that make people feel relaxed and happy.

The view from the beach house. Lots of birds and strange animal sounds at night. Is it racoon mating season? Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The view from the beach house. Lots of birds and strange animal sounds at night. Is it racoon mating season? Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Early morning visitor. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Early morning visitor. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My beach going friend Glenn and I enjoyed our stay. Andreas the Oceanographer stayed home. he doesn’t appreciate the whole beach scene with the crowds and traffic. Sitting on the beach bores him.

South Bethany Beach at North 1st st. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
South Bethany Beach at North 1st St. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Glenn and I did our own things. He went to the boardwalk and floated along the canals in his inflatable kayak.

Glenn floating along a canal. He saw an egret and a heron. No snakes or alligators. Photo by Glenn Davies
Glenn floating along a canal. He saw an egret and a heron. No snakes or alligators. Photo by Glenn Davies

I went to my brother-in-law George’s favorite coffee place and caught up on some magazines a friend gave me.

Drifting Grounds in Bethany Beach. I recomend their dark roast.
Drifting Grounds in Bethany Beach. I recommend their dark roast.
The "Friends" sofa in Drifting Grounds.
The “Friends” sofa in Drifting Grounds.

We spent time at the beach swimming and walking. We also met my Aunt and Uncle who live locally for dinner and caught up with them.

Yes, I got some sunburn, even on a cloudy day.

We had a great time. Thanks to Christina and George!

Here comes the storm. We made it back to the house just as the rain started. Photo by Glenn Davies
Here comes the storm. We made it back to the house just as the rain started. Photo by Glenn Davies

OK, back to work.

Re-entry

Hello from America. We’ve had eleven days to re-adjust, re-decorate and re-dedicate ourselves to our old lives.

Starting to re-paint the house Dragonfly style. Andreas picked out the purple paint.
Starting to re-paint the house Dragonfly style. Andreas picked out the purple paint.

On the flight home we shared our row with a friar or monk (whatever you call the dudes in the long brown robes with rope belts) a talker, originally from South Jersey. He’s stationed in Jericho now and was coming home for a holiday at the shore. I caught up on a few movies that I hadn’t seen while we were in Germany on the plane. When we landed in Philadelphia, a half hour late, we were told that the computers in customs were down. Two hours later we happily greeted Andreas’ sister who patiently waited three hours to pick us up.

My in-laws watched our house for us using our place as a base while they build a new home. So, not only was the house clean and ready to live in when we arrived, but we had groceries and good company.

The first things we noticed in Delaware were the sounds of insects at night and the blood thirsty mosquitoes. Even though it’s hot we open the windows to hear the insects through the night and the birds in the morning. In Bremerhaven we heard drunks, sirens and seagulls. I’ll miss the seagulls.

Back to my weekly Sunday walk with friend Terri around the University of Delaware campus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Back to my weekly Sunday walk with friend Terri around the University of Delaware campus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our local farmer's market isn't as grand as the market in Bremerhaven, but my friends are there and I can ask for what I'd like and be understood so I'm happy. Andreas doesn't want to go yet. He misses the German market.
Our local farmer’s market isn’t as grand as the market in Bremerhaven, but my friends are there and I can ask for what I’d like and be understood so I’m happy. Andreas doesn’t want to go yet. He misses the German market.

During our first couple of days back we manically cleaned, re-organized and unpacked. Andreas spent three days in the garden untangling and cutting back a years’ worth of overgrowth.

This area was overgrown, the rose bush was on the ground and there was an apple tree. Andreas removed the weeds, the tree and unearthed a forgotten flower bed in one day in 90 degree heat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
This area was a mini jungle, the rose bush was on the ground and there was an apple tree. Andreas removed the weeds, the tree and unearthed a forgotten flower bed in one day in 90 degree heat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

He also spent some time editing and cleaning his office at work which hasn’t changed much in twenty years. Even though we felt tired and jet lagged, the excitement of being back and the desire to do the things we dreamed about in Germany overcame it.

No wheels for me this week. I hope it's fixed soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
No wheels for me this week. I hope it’s fixed soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My car wasn’t running well after sitting for a year, so I had it towed to the mechanics. Even though I’m home I haven’t had a car to run errands. That’s frustrating, but I think it helped me to stay focused on submitting a grant proposal before it’s deadline, and to unpack the studio prepare it for commissions and classes.

The art studio is unpacked, cleaned up and ready for new art to be made. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The art studio is unpacked, cleaned up and ready for new art to be made. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We had our kitchen remodeled when we were overseas. It turned out great and it’s been fun to unpack and thin out our combined kitchen utensils and gadgets. It’s so much brighter than the old kitchen!

The kitchen before photo. Dark, brown and outdated.
The kitchen before photo. Dark, brown and outdated.
The kitchen after photo. Much brighter! Thanks to Linda and Matt DelPizzo. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The kitchen after photo. Much brighter! Thanks to Linda and Matt DelPizzo. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Oh, and I turned 50 a few days ago and had an awesome dinner out with a few friends. It was wonderful to understand the conversations at the table, to understand the waitress and to be able to read everything on the menu. Also, super great to see my friends. I kept staring at my friend Sherri. I couldn’t believe she was actually sitting there in person, not just a video on the phone!

This seems ridiculous. Fifty?! how did that happen?
This seems ridiculous. Fifty?! how did that happen?

I miss our apartment in Germany a little bit because it became so familiar. All in all, though I am very happy to be HOME!

 

Never Have I Ever

As my year in Bremerhaven Germany comes to an end, I want to remember some unusual experiences.

Never have I ever lived three blocks from chimpanzees.

My neighbor from the Zoo Am Meer in Bremerhaven. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
My neighbor from the Zoo Am Meer in Bremerhaven. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Also, the rest of the zoo, but the chimpanzees have a lookout area above the zoo fence so I see them most days hanging out looking at the human zoo that is Bremerhaven.

Never have I ever lived somewhere that didn’t have air conditioning in the summer or screens on the windows. Oh my God, y’all, so happy there are not a lot of mosquitoes.

In Lubeck during one of 2018's heatwaves. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
In Lubeck during one of 2018’s heatwaves. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Never have I ever had my haircut by people who didn’t speak my language.

A nice haircut, but not what I was expecting. Ha ha. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum
A nice haircut, but not what I was expecting. Ha ha. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever seen artwork from my favorite artist Hundertwasser in person.

Being in the spaces Hundert Wasser created and touching the walls instead of looking at photos in a book was an incredible experience. Vienna Austria. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Being in the spaces Hundertwasser created and touching the walls instead of looking at photos in a book was an incredible experience. Vienna Austria. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever eaten smoked eel. It looks horrible, but is actually very good. I’ve also never eaten so many potatoes in my life. Andreas likes to cook and his repertoire is slightly limited.

Christmas food shopping from the farmers and fish market for visiting family. The eel is the black object in the fish box. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christmas food shopping from the farmer’s and fish markets for visiting family. The eel is the black object in the fish box. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever eaten peanut butter flavored Cheetos. Yum, addicted to them. I was introduced in the bar on the research ship which brings me to..

Why do I like these? I really don't know.
Why do I like these? I really don’t know.

Never have I ever seen snow on Labor Day, an iceberg or a glacier. Also,

Never have I ever spent four weeks living on the ocean.

In the Arctic Sea aboard the FS Maria S. Merian. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In the Arctic Sea aboard the FS Maria S. Merian. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever consumed so much Pilsner and Riesling. Not in copious amounts, it’s the only type of beer and wine Andreas likes to buy here.

It doesn't get more local that looking at the vineyard through the wine glass. Lunch in front of St. Joseph's Church in Beilstein on the Moselle River. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
It doesn’t get more local that looking at the vineyard through the wine glass. Lunch in front of St. Joseph’s Church in Beilstein on the Moselle River. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever had this much time to focus on my artwork. I’ve had a few months here and there in my life when I’ve attended workshops or been between jobs, but never a whole year to slow down and focus.

My little studio desk with the portable art supplies. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
My little studio desk with the portable art supplies. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever exhibited my paintings abroad! Wow, that was cool.

Watercolor and colored pencil works ready to go to the gallery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Watercolor and colored pencil works ready to go to the gallery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever eaten gooseberry (Stachelbeere) or rhubarb (Rhabarber) pancakes.

Andreas cooks pancakes every Sunday. This is his first rhubarb pancake. Yum! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas cooks pancakes every Sunday. This is his first rhubarb pancake. Yum! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever traveled by train so much or been without a car for so long.

Almost home after a long trip by train. Our adventures with German rail have been frustrating at times but I appreciate being able to travel almost anywhere without a car. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Almost home after a long trip by train. Our adventures with German rail have been frustrating at times, but I appreciate being able to travel almost anywhere without a car. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever had a “destination wedding” back to my house.

Home in the states for a week to get married. Andreas calculated that we need to plant approximately 50 trees to offset our carbon footprint from that trip. Photo by Glenn Davies
Home in the states for a week to get married. Andreas calculated that we need to plant approximately 50 trees to offset our carbon footprint from that trip. Photo by Glenn Davies

Never have I ever spent hours in an immigration visa office. Thank God Andreas can speak German. I feel really bad for all of the others there who didn’t have a native speaker with them.

Not a bad neighborhood to live in. Bremerhaven, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Not a bad neighborhood to live in. Bremerhaven, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

All in all, a wonderful experience. I accomplished most of the goals I set for myself and I think Andreas did too. We’re looking forward to visiting again soon.

I think we checked off most of the steps in the book.
I think we checked off most of the steps in the book.

Tschüss Lübeck I’ll miss you the most.

Lubeck Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Lubeck Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas and I were not back in Bremerhaven more than a couple of hours from our last trip when we realized this week’s early July weather was going to be very cool. We decided to take advantage and travel again before the next heat wave. We set out to my favorite city Lübeck to say goodbye to Andreas’ parents and Aunt; our third trip to Lübeck this year. (Last summer 2018) (Christmas 2018)

The town of Lubeck created in marzipan in the window of Niederegger. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The town of Lubeck created in marzipan in the window of Niederegger. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
At our favorite Airbnb. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
At our favorite Airbnb. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas working in the Airbnb. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas working in the Airbnb. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Wine in the Gang in front of our Airbnb with the old school Lubeck gang. From left to right: Christa, Lothar, Andreas and Annemarie. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Wine in the Gang in front of our Airbnb with the old school Lubeck gang. From left to right: Christa, Lothar, Andreas and Annemarie. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

In two days, we visited all of the familiar places. We stayed at our usual Airbnb in the tiny passage or Gang. (I looked up these passages and learned that two scenes from Nosferatu were filmed in Lübeck), we ate at our favorite restaurants and walked around the beautiful, old city. Since we’ve recently become step-grandparents toy stores are newly interesting and as always, time and money were spent in bookstores.

Leaving the Kartoffelkeller restaurant. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Leaving the Kartoffelkeller restaurant. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dinner at the Alte Zolln where Andreas' grandfather used to drink. The woman with the blue shirt and watch is local and was sitting alone. The other three are visiting Lubeck from Scotland and were seated at her table because seats were available. She immediately asked about their thoughts on Brexit. They replied that they absolutely didn't want to talk about politics. within ten minutes they were talking about politics. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dinner at the Alte Zolln where Andreas’ grandfather used to drink. The woman with the blue shirt and watch is local and was sitting alone. The other three are visiting Lubeck from Scotland and were seated at her table because seats were available. She immediately asked about their thoughts on Brexit. They replied that they absolutely didn’t want to talk about politics. within ten minutes they were talking about politics. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Bookstore in Lubeck. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Bookstore in Lubeck. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Thankfully, Andreas’ parents, Aunt Annemarie and his mother’s friend from school, Sieglinde were able to join us for dinner with just a few days’ notice. It’s always fun to walk around the city with them because they have so many memories of being young there.

Sisters. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sisters. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Zekelinda and Christa. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sieglinde and Christa. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Annemarie, Zekelinda and Christa at Schlumachers. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Annemarie, Sieglinde and Christa at Schlumachers. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Our new find was the Europäisches Hansemuseum. The museum site was originally a castle built in 1100, which turned into a Friary, which turned into an almshouse, which turned into a law court and prison which became the museum. Thus.. a really cool collection of buildings with remnants of all of these periods can be viewed.

Andreas in the old court room. Hansemuseum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas in the old court room. Hansemuseum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Angels in the architecture from one of the original castle and friary. Hansemuseum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Angels in the architecture from the original castle and friary. Hansemuseum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stained glass from around 1400 that survived the bombings in WWII. Hansemuseum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stained glass from around 1400 that survived the bombings in WWII. Hansemuseum. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Just a couple of weeks are left in Andreas’ sabbatical, I hope this cool spell lasts and we can travel a little more.

Walking towards Marienkiche. It was built between 1250-1350 on the highest point of the island. After WWII Andreas' Uncle helped to rebuild the wooden structures of the steeples and his father ran the new telephone wires. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Walking towards Marienkiche. It was built between 1250-1350 on the highest point of the island. After WWII Andreas’ Uncle helped to rebuild the wooden structures of the steeples and his father ran the new telephone wires. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

 

 

Early Summertime in Diez Germany

Diez metamorphosed from a blah German caterpillar in the winter to a shining, sunny butterfly in summer. We’ve traveled there twice in the winter months, once in 2017 at Christmas and recently 2019 in February. We had a fun time with Andreas’ brother and sister-in-law, but the town itself was quiet. Come summertime it now lights up with al fresco eating and drinking, food trucks, a water feature following the street that I earlier mistook as a giant gutter, flowers everywhere and general feeling of gregariousness. Tourists are seen trying to drive the wrong way on tiny streets, and long-distance hikers and bicyclists pass through.

At the beer garden in Limburg. From left to right: Anke, Mark, Andreas, Dragonfly and Burkhard. Photo by Carina Schmidt-Muenchow
At the beer garden in Diez. From left to right: Anke, Mark, Andreas, Dragonfly and Burkhard. Photo by Carina Schmidt-Muenchow

Burkhard and Carina picked us up from the train station and took us to a hidden beer garden in Diez where friends were holding a table for us. Our waiter, strangely enough, was from Germantown, Pennsylvania (the dodgy end) and was happy to speak English. I ordered my new favorite German restaurant food, Kartoffelpuffer mit lachs.

Carina (right) from Planet Eisenbach and Alien friend
Carina (right) from Planet Eisenbach and Alien friend

After dinner and drinks, we returned quickly to their home to transform ourselves into Aliens and then drove close to the Diez/ Limburg border for a punk rock, alien party complete with spaceship and burning alien on the fire pit.

Burning the Alien and his ship at Kalkwerk. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burning the Alien and his ship at Kalkwerk. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Aliens like punk rock. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Aliens like punk rock. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The party was held at Kalkwerk which is a former lime/chalk? mine transformed into art studios, recording studios and band practice space, a concert venue with a stage and like Diez has metamorphosing capabilities. If this place had existed in my life as a young person I would have moved in and never left.

The Alien scene at Kalkwerk. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The Alien scene at Kalkwerk. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
I spy with my third eye.....
I spy with my third eye…..

The next day found us busy preparing for a dinner with Burkhard and Carina’s friends. Carina and I did some shopping including a visit to the Turkish butcher while Andreas weeded part of the back yard and expressed for maybe the first time this year that he was homesick for his garden in Delaware. Burkhard readied the tables, chairs and grill. Carina made delicious salads that I’m hoping to get recipes for and Burkhard grilled lamb and chicken from the butchers. One of the best dinners I’ve had in Germany. Also, great company.

At the butchers with Carina. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
At the butchers with Carina. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dinner in the rose garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dinner in the rose garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burkhard cooking dinner. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Burkhard cooking dinner. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Prost! to good health and a happy summer. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Prost! to good health and a happy summer. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On Sunday Andreas was interested in a long hike in the Jammertal Valley (valley of misery) along the Lahn River.

Hiking in the beautiful Jammertal Valley with Andreas and Burkhard. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Hiking in the beautiful Jammertal Valley with Andreas and Burkhard. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The rest of us not so much. Burkhard and I walked with him for a while and then turned back and drove around the surrounding villages. We also visited the Schaumburg Castle that was closed for the day.

Schaumburg Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Schaumburg Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The origins of the castle date back to 915 and it was first mentioned around 1197. Burkard and I found a more modern door walking around the outside.
The origins of the castle date back to 915 and it was first mentioned around 1197. Burkard and I found a more modern door walking around the outside.
Schaumburg Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Schaumburg Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The castle site (not in the castle) is also where Mother Meera lives. “Mother Meera is the embodiment of the Divine Feminine, the Divine Mother on earth.”-from her website. Many people have visited her including a few of the Beatles. I hope to visit one day as well.

Carina in the garden with the Queen's drink. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Carina in the garden with the Queen’s drink. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

From the castle we returned to Diez for some ice cream and then back to Burkard’s home where Carina made me the Queen’s drink which was fancy and delicious and we waited for Andreas to return on the train.

The Queen's drink, perfect for summer. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The Queen’s drink, perfect for summer. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

He arrived an hour or so later after hiking nine miles through the woods happy and tired with blisters on his feet, (yes, he walked in his Birkenstocks) and wine and liverwurst in his belly.

Andreas on the Jammertal Valley trail. Photo by some nice ladies on the trail.
Andreas on the Jammertal Valley trail. Photo by some nice ladies on the trail.

We had a dinner of leftovers with the neighbor’s little boy who invited himself over, and later drinks with the neighbors who popped through the garden hedge.

Happy in a garden. Thank you Burkhard and Carina for a wonderful, relaxing weekend. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Life  is a blue bowl of cherries in a beautiful garden. Thank you Burkhard and Carina for a wonderful, relaxing weekend. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

When on earlier visits I had the Specials song Ghost Town in my head walking around town I now saw Diez with new eyes as a fun, vibrant neighborhood. Amazing what a little sun and warm weather can do.

17,000 daily steps to Purgatory and beyond

 

49 in Lubeck   photo by Andreas MuenchowD-fly Lubeck stairs

A blind date over coffee in Newark, Delaware leads to birthday cake in Lübeck Germany 363 days later.

Lübeck is a pretty great place for birthday cake (and dates), let me tell you. I love the town. It’s on an island so I can’t get lost, the architecture is so different and full of history, the people are friendly and I feel very comfortable there.

We left on a Sunday morning and took trains to Bremen, Hamburg, Lübeck and then chose to go a little farther to visit Andreas’ parents in Neustadt. After coffee with Christa and Lothar we returned to Lübeck in time to check into our Airbnb and then found Purgatory (Fegefeuer) Lane which led us to the Dom for a pipe organ concert that Andreas was curious about.

Caught editing photos in the Dom waiting for the organ concert.  photo by Andreas MuenchowIMG_0482The Dom20180729_190307

Our Airbnb was created in an old brewery built in 1290. The “room” we rented turned out to be a small apartment with a little kitchen. Along with our personal space there was a large indoor living room open to all guests and an outdoor garden. Our place was only as wide as our arm span with every convenience and was very clean and comfortable. The only thing missing from this American’s stay was a fan or air-conditioning. A luxury around here saved for grocery stores.

This is our Airbnb. Our room was the open window on the first floor.20180729_173320photo by Andreas Muenchow20180729_173520Andreas climbing the ladder to the tiny sleeping loft.20180729_173626

Northern Germany has been experiencing a heat wave this past week or so. Temperatures have been unusually high in the 90’s and there is no cooling in the houses, shops or restaurants. In Lübeck everyone was outside hoping to catch a breeze of any kind to cool down. Restaurants and cafés had their tables on the sidewalks and streets and people were out very late enjoying the slight drop in temperature after the sun went down.

Newer stained glass in the Dom. The original was lost during WWII.20180729_173219Our street.20180729_173251

My birthday was Monday and Andreas and I had a fun day revolving around food and family. We went out for a light breakfast then later met his parents and his mother’s middle school friend for coffee and cake mid-afternoon. After coffee we all had a nice walk through the city where the older folks, who are all locals, remembered bits of their shared youth 70 years ago walking past different buildings and streets. We gave the grand, short tour of our tiny digs and had drinks in the garden, then Andreas took us to a wonderful restaurant for a fancy birthday dinner. I couldn’t have wished for a better birthday. Actually, that’s not true, it would have been awesome if it was 20 degrees cooler. Ha-ha

Christa and Sieglinde enjoying the garden.Christa and Zekelinda

The next day Andreas and I explored Lübeck some more. There is always something new to find there. Mid-day, after just 13 or 14,000 steps the heat started to get to us and we joined the kids in the public fountain to cool off. Unlike the kids, we kept our clothes on.

Andreas croppedIMG_0508

Yesterday we celebrated the anniversary of our serendipitous meeting with dinner on a tall ship dating from 1919 in Bremerhaven’s old harbor. Here’s to many more steps and cups of coffee together.

The view from the ship’s gangway. 20180802_220542