Road Trip Across the US

I just did something I never thought I’d do and never wanted to do. I drove to Oregon and back. To some of you this might sound like a fun trip, but it was never on my bucket list.

My brother called us after New Year’s to say that after the tumor was evaluated from his brain surgery in December his doctor recommended radiation and chemotherapy. My sister-in-law and nephew were scheduled to have a vacation in March. My brother didn’t want them to miss their trip, but he was concerned that navigating the last weeks of radiation therapy might be challenging by himself. He asked if we would come to Oregon. Yes, of course we would, but there is a pandemic and his immune system is compromised. Flying didn’t seem like a good idea so, Andreas and I decided that the safest way across the country Covid wise was to drive.

Andreas thought a drive across the country would be really fun and dove right into planning. He had maps and books open the day we said yes. He chose the route, booked the hotels and planned the food we would take in our cooler. We ate what we brought with us only getting take-out twice.

We bought a new hybrid car before the pandemic and put so few miles on it that we were still getting used to driving it during our trip. It was really nice to have a vehicle we didn’t have to worry about that also got decent gas mileage. Andreas and I have very different driving styles and the first few days were challenging. I scared him, he terrified me, but we didn’t die or wreck the car. The new car also had some new to us safety features which were super helpful.

We chose rt. 80 because it seemed the most snow free in the middle of March. It wasn’t quite; we drove through a few snow storms, but none too serious. Just enough snow and rain to add to driving stress. I admit, the scenery was beautiful in the snow. On the first night we met my cousins in Mishawaka Indiana. A few of them I had only seen on Facebook. Even though we were all masked and keeping our distance we had a nice visit. I hope to have another opportunity to visit them after the pandemic.

Our cousins were so nice to meet us in our hotel lobby in Mishawaka Indiana.
We were so tired after the first night of driving. Ha ha, we had no idea how tired we would be.

On the second day we drove through Des Moines, Iowa. A stained glass artist I admire from Philadelphia had a showing at the Des Moines Art Center. It was a wonderful show and the Art Center turned out to be much more than we expected. Since we were able to visit in the middle of a weekday, we didn’t have to worry about bumping into other people.

Here are some photos from the east to west part of the drive. Click on the photos to see them full size.

My brother was in good spirits when we arrived in Oregon and we were able to spend some time with my sister-in law and nephew before they left on their trip. We worked or went to school on separate computers throughout the house during the weekdays. On the weekend Andreas and nephew hiked and geocached in the Oregon forests. My brother, Andreas, and nephew played cards at night and my sister-in-law and I knitted, fed the pet rats Cheerios and grapes and caught up on things. We also watched movies as brother has a TV. The photo below shows my brother’s latest paint by number masterpiece in front of his little gallery.

My brother and I drove to Seal Rock beach on the Pacific coast during a rainy, windy Wednesday for a change of scenery and some fresh air. The weather was so cold we didn’t stay long.

His west coast town has lower Covid numbers than ours on the east coast and everyone but the college students seem to be pretty careful. We felt that we could venture out and shop a little bit. I met a former art student who I haven’t seen in fifteen years for dinner. She recently moved to Oregon from Alaska. We were able to eat safely outside and had a nice evening catching up. I also visited my parents a few times masked up sitting in their garage or driveway. That was strange, but it was nice to see them after a few years.

The week my nephew and sister-in-law traveled to visit nephew’s older brother at college, Andreas was a guest in our German friend Stefanie’s eighth grade English classroom in Bonn via a Zoom like program. Andreas was featured as a German immigrant to America and the students could ask him any question they liked. Even though the class was voluntary and met in the evening German time, most of the class showed up and they spoke for over an hour. I know Andreas had fun and I think the kids did too.

The photos below show nephews in California during spring break, Andreas speaking with the German students over the computer, the hospital where my brother had his daily radiation treatments, the radiation mask gallery and my brother waiting for train bringing my sister-in-law and nephew home.

Our weeks together went quickly and soon it was time to pack up the car and drive home. We changed route on the first day to avoid snow in the Cascade Mountains and ended up driving through some snow anyway. We weren’t quite as worried about Covid since we didn’t need to protect my brother any longer. We did notice on the way home, however, that fewer people were wearing masks.

Andreas booked a hotel that was established in 1911 in Cheyenne, Wyoming on our second night. A sign near the mirrored elevator stated that in the old days, cowboys would try to sneak their horses into their rooms by using the elevators to save money. We believed it. What we didn’t know until I wrote this and looked up the hotel is that it’s haunted. Which floor is haunted? the one we stayed on, of course. The room was tiny and the heater too loud to use. Andreas made the night better by picking up take-out so we had a warm meal. Cheyenne is an interesting town with not many masks in sight. The hotel, charming in some respects with stained glass and some interesting artwork was too serious about cowboys and Indians memorabilia.

We noticed that a storm front was coming in near the east coast and changed routes for the more southern rt. 70. The change of course gave us new views and we were able to avoid Chicago and travel through some different cities like Indianapolis and Columbus.

Even though we enjoyed watching spring progress through the car windows, after five days driving, home was a welcome sight. We were so happy to be back we couldn’t stop smiling through the first evening.

Now I can say I have driven across the US and back. I don’t need to do it again. It looks pretty from an airplane too.

Ein Leben in Lubeck 1935-2021

Annemarie, die Schwester meiner Mutter, hatte einen kleinen Garten recht nah am West-Ufer der Wakenitz. Eine kleine Hu¨tte hatte eine Ku¨che, Wohnzimmer, und Esszimmer alles in einem Raum. Das Wasser kam von einer Handpumpe draussen im Garten. Im Sommer lebte sie dort mit meinem Onkel Fritz, meinem Cousin Olaf, und meiner Cusine Petra etwa 2.5 km von ihrer Wohnung in der Paradiesgarten Strasse. Bei Besuchen im Sommer waren wir Kinder meist draussen um auch durch die umliegenden Naturschutzgebiete zu stromern. Dies sind meine ersten Erinnerungen an eine grossartige, selbstlose, und elegante Frau: Annemarie Gu¨smer starb vor 2 Wochen in Lu¨beck 86 Jahre nach ihrer Geburt.

Familien Photo vom 7. Mai 1960. Von links nach rechts: meinem Vater Lothar Mu¨nchow, meiner Mutter Christa Nagewitz, meine Tante Annemarie Gu¨smer, meine Grosseltern Luise und Hans Nagewitz, und mein Onkel Fritz Gu¨smer.

Meine Grossmutter Luise Nagewitz gebar Annemarie als drittes von fu¨nf Kindern am 20. Ma¨rz 1935 in Lu¨beck. Annemarie’s 4-ja¨hrige Schwester Ingrid starb 4 Wochen vor ihrer Geburt. Dies war ein schwerer Anfang sowohl fu¨r die Eltern Luise und Hans als auch fu¨r das neugeborene Kind. Meine Mutter Christa folgte 1936, ein kleiner Bruder 1937, und der Zweite Weltkrieg begann 1939. Annemarie war 4 Jahre jung als Deutsche und Russische Armeen Polen angriffen, 9 Jahre als ihr grosser Bruder der Deutschen Wehrmacht bei-getreten wurde, und 10 Jahre alt als die Britisch Armee Lu¨beck von den Nazis befreite.

Die Feuerstu¨rme und Bomben des Luftangriffes am Palmsonntag 1942 brannten sich fru¨h in die Errinnerungen der zwei kleinen Ma¨dchen Anne (7) und Christa (5) ein. Anders als meine Mutter, welche bis heute jeden Donner, jeden Blitz, und jedes Feuer fu¨rchtet ohne richtig zu wissen warum, hat meine Tante Anne perso¨nliche Gefuehle, erlebte Geschichte, und gewu¨nschte Politik analytisch bedacht, gelesen, und ensprechend gewa¨hlt und gehandelt. Sehr fru¨h hat sie Verantwortung in der Familie u¨bernehmen mu¨ssen, was nicht immer ihrer eigenen Bildung half, obwohl sie bei weitem die Klu¨gste in der Familie war.

Sie graduierte 1949 von der Volksschule gleichzeitig mit der Gru¨ndung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Das war ein unglu¨ckliches Jahr, in dem sie keinen Ausbildungsplatz fand, da die Arbeitslosigkeit in Lu¨beck 1949 bei 28.7% lag. Etwa 300 junge Frauen aus Lu¨beck und Schleswig-Holstein wanderten dieses Jahr nach Island aus, weil dort Frauenmangel herrschte. So begann Annemarie, 15 Jahren jung, in einer Fabrik zu arbeiten und teilte sich auch weiterhin ein Zimmer mit ihrer kleinen Schwester bei den Eltern erst in der Stitenstrasse und ab 1951 am Buniamshof, wo ihr Vater der Platzwart war. Zusammen sind wir dort in 2018 und 2019 auch am Kra¨henteich und in der Altstadt spazieren gegangen um spa¨ter im “Kartoffelspeicher” und bei “Schlumacher’s” zusammen zu Feiern und zu Essen.

Ein Jahr spa¨ter lernte sie als junge 17-ja¨hrige Frau den gelernten Schlosser Fritz Gu¨smer kennen: sie verlobten sich 2.5 Jahre spa¨ter und heirateten 1957. Das junge Ehepaar wohnte immer noch bei den Eltern, da Wohnraum und Geld in Lu¨beck auch 12 Jahre nach Kriegsende immer noch knapp war. Meine Mutter zog eine Woche nach der Hochzeit in die Schweiz, so dass Annemarie und ihr Ehemann ein eigenes Zimmer hatten. Nach zwei Jahren gebar sie Olaf 1959. Jetzt fand die junge Familie auch ihre erste Miet-Wohnung, bekam den Schrebergarten an der Wagnitz, und am 6. Januar 1962 gebar Annemarie Tochter Petra. Hier ist Annemarie’s Schrebergarten im Sommer 1962, wo ihr Vater einen seiner Enkel schaukelt:

Kleinkind in Annemarie’s Schrebergarten an der Waknitz etwa 1962 mit Grossvater.

Sowohl Olaf (1959), Petra (1962), als auch ich (1961) und meine zwei Geschwister Burkhard (1963) und Christina (1964) sind alle in Lu¨beck geboren. Meine Mutter bestand darauf, dass ihre Kinder nicht an ihrem Wohnort in Leck, Nordfriesland hinter dem Deich der Nordsee auf die Welt kommen; nein, Christa entschied, dass ihre Kinder in der grossen Stadt mit der Unterstu¨tzung ihrer Schwester Annemarie zur Welt kamen. Annemarie sorgte sich auch um ihre etwa 18 Monate junge Nichte Christina fu¨r 2-3 Wochen, damit ihre Schwester Christa mit Mann und So¨hnen in einen Urlaub fahren konnten. Hier ist Annemarie’s Tochter Petra bei uns in Nordfriesland 1965 zu Besuch. Das war der Kinder-Tisch separat von dem Erwachsenen-Tisch.

Cuties at the kids table From left to right: Burkhard, Andreas, cousin Petra and baby Christina. Photo taken on Wikinger Str. in Leck, Germany early 1965. This photo taken from the slide projected on the wall.
Burkhard, Andreas, Cousine Petra, und Christina in Leck, Nordfriesland, Wikinger Str. 46 Anfang 1965.

Und so ging es auch die na¨chsten 15 Jahre weiter. Wir Mu¨nchow’s aus Nordfriesland oder Hessen waren jedes Jahr bestimmt 3-4 mal auch bei Tante Anne zu Besuch. Zusammen verbrachten wir Kinder viel Zeit miteinander und hatten nicht una¨hnliche Probleme als Teenager mit Eltern, Musik, Sex, Drogen, Schule, und dem allgemeinen Zustand von Gesellschaft und Politik. Das hatte allerdings auch Vorteile, da wir Kinder uns bestens gegen unsere Eltern unterstu¨tzten. Diese erschienen uns sehr alt, konservativ, langweilig, und von Musik hatten die wirklich keine Ahnung. [Die Ironie hier ist, dass wir “Teenager” heute 10 Jahre a¨lter sind, als unser Eltern es in den spa¨ten 70er waren.]

Petra Gu¨smer (Tochter von Annemarie) und Burkhard Mu¨nchow (Sohn von Christa) in Walldorf, Hessen, etwa 1978.

Tante Anne sagte selten etwas – stille Wasser sind tief – aber wenn wir als rebellische Teenager zu weit gingen, dann bescha¨mte sie uns mit ihrer Ruhe und Toleranz, mit ihrer Logik und Wissen, und ganz besonders mit weisem Humor, welcher uns zum Lachen brachte. Da wir ihr oft vertrauten, folgten wir dann gerne ihrem Rat. Keiner in unser Familie besass Annemarie’s Emphatie und Einfu¨hlung fu¨r junge Leute. Sie war nicht nur der “Bu¨cherwurm” in unserer Familie sondern auch die “Weisheit” und der “gesunde Menschenverstand.” Aber sie war immer im Hintergrund, immer leise, immer am Arbeiten, und hat sich immer selbstlos um das Wohl anderer geku¨mmert. Diese Selbstlosigkeit kam dann spa¨ter auch ihren Enkelkinder Christoph (1982), Maya (1984), und Titus (1990) in grossem Masse zu Gute.

Etwa 4 Jahre nach der Geburt von Titus reiste Annemarie ohne Ehemann, Kinder, oder Enkelkinder aber mit meinen Eltern fu¨r 3-4 Wochen in die USA. Der Flug 1994 von Hamburg nach Denver in Colorado war wohl ihr erster. Sie besuchte ihre Nichte Christina, welche dort mit ihrer jungen Familie lebte. In einem Miet-Auto fuhren sie dann ganz “langsam” durch die Rocky Mountains und die Wu¨sten von New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona, um mich am Pazifischen Ozean in San Diego, Kalifornien zu besuchen. Das sind fast 2000 km. Diese Reise wurde sowohl von ihren Tochter Petra von Lu¨beck aus, als auch von meiner Schwester Christina und mir u¨ber einen Zeitraum von etwa 2 Jahren vorbereitet. Hier ist ein Photo, wo sie bei meiner Schwester in Boulder, Colorado ankommt:

Annemarie Gu¨smer (rechts) mit ihrer Nichte Christina Parsons, Schwager Lothar und Schwester Christa (links) in Colorado 1994.

Die Drei fuhren dann auf der Ku¨stenstrasse dem Pazifischen Ozean entlang nach San Francisco, gingen dort 2-3 Tage spazieren, essen, und trinken, und fuhren dann die 2000 km zuru¨ck nach Denver in einer no¨rdlichen Route. In den na¨chsten 20 Jahren habe ich dann den Kontakt nach Deutschland fast verloren: meine Grosseltern starben, es wurde geheiratet, Kinder wurden geboren oder adoptiert, Ehen wurden geschieden, neue Partnerschaften wurden gegru¨ndet, und aus Kindern wurden Erwachsene sowohl in Deutschland als auch in den USA.

Im Sommer 2015 lebte Tante Anne mit ihrem Ehemann bei ihrer Tochter Petra, Schwiegersohn Stefan, und deren Familie. Dort besuchte ich Annemarie und Petra an einem Samstag Nachmittag auf einem Arbeitsweg von den USA nach Schweden. Warum Petra auf der Wiese hinter dem Haus mit 4-5 Mo¨psen in einem Camper lebte, war mir nicht so ganz klar, aber Petra und ich haben gemein, dass wir uns oft etwas exentrische verhalten und uns meist spontan entscheiden was manchmal chaotische Konsquenzen hat. Meine Mutter hat diese Erbmasse auch, Annemarie allerdings nicht. Dafu¨r hat Annemarie aber die no¨tige Gedult, Ruhe, und Empathie um dieses andere Leben zu tolerieren. Hier ist Tante Anne mit Onkel Fritz und auch Petra etwa 2015 in ihrem Garten.

Ganz besonders mein in Deutschland verbliebener Bruder Burkhard hat immer den Kontakt zu Tante Anne und Onkel Fritz, ihren Kindern Olaf und Petra, und auch Enkelkindern Maya und Titus u¨ber all die Jahrzehnte behalten. Burkhard erza¨hlte mir von traurigen Beerdigungen, frohen Hochzeiten, und einsichtigen Geschichten von Annemarie und Fritz. Diese kurzen Einblicke, welche Annemarie Burkhard und spa¨ter auch mir im Privatem erkla¨rte, warfen neues Licht auf alter Ereignisse und Perso¨nlichkeiten in unserer Familie. Stille Wasser sind tief – und Annemarie’s Beobachtungen, Erinnerungen, und Analysen waren scharf und trafen wunde Punkte ohne zu verletzen.

Burkhard gab mir diese Bilder von Annemarie, Petra, und Fritz an der Ostsee, in Hameln, in Neustadt, in Kiel, und auch auf der Burg Runkel an der Lahn wo Tante Anne und Petra ihn und seine Frau Carina 2016 besuchten:

Meine Wissenschaft und Ozeanographie Forschungsreisen brachten mich jetzt jedes Jahr zur “Durchreise” nach Deutschland. Gerne flog ich u¨ber Kopenhagen nach Europa und dann per Zug und Ostsee-Fa¨hre nach Lu¨beck um sowohl meine Eltern als auch Tante Anne zu besuchen. Kurz vor Weihnachten 2017 lud ich mich zu Kaffee und Kuchen in ihre Wohnung ein. Hier ihre schnelle Antwort per e-mail:

Annemarie und Fritz Gu¨smer am 23. Dezember 2017 in ihrem Wohnzimmer mit dem Author. [Photo von Dragonfly Leathrum.]

Annemarie ging mit der Zeit und konnte mit digitalen Medien gut umgehen, was in Deutschland fu¨r Frauen u¨ber 80 ungewo¨hnlich ist. Ganz begeistert zeigte sie uns ein grosses Album von der Hochzeit ihrer Enkeltochter Maya auf ihrem iPad. So funktionierte dann auch die Kommunikation mit Dragonfly, welche noch wenig Deutsch sprach, aber von den Familienfotos – wie auch ich – ganz begeistert war. Auch Annemarie’s ju¨ngsten Enkel Titus traf ich ein erstes Mal als erwachsenen Menschen. Als ehemaliger Seemann spricht er ausgezeichnetes Englisch. Am Abend fuhren wir wohl gena¨hrt und gesta¨rkt die 30 Minuten Busfahrt zu unser AirBnB in der Lu¨bschen Altstadt im Malerwinkel zuru¨eck.

Ein Jahr spa¨ter kam Tante Anne uns in diesem AirBnB besuchen, nachdem wir lange in der Altstadt zu Fuss mit meinen Eltern unterwegs waren. Die zwei Schwestern und mein Vater erinnerten sich an vielen Ecken an Ereignisse und Geschichten welche 30 oder 50 oder 70 Jahre zuru¨ck lagen. Schulen, Friseure, Cafe’s, La¨den, Kneipen, Kinos, und auch Gescha¨ften. Annemarie arbeitete viel in der Altstadt im Schuhverkauf bei Salamander und im Kleiderverkauf bei Herder um ihrer Familie auch finanzielle zu unterstu¨tzen. Sie kommentierte in 2018, dass die 300-400 Jahre alten und malerischen (“picturesque”) Ha¨user der Lu¨becker Altstadt nicht immer so schick waren, wie sie es heute sind. Nach dem Wein vor unserem AirBnB hinter dem Dom an der Obertrave sind wir abends noch scho¨n und vornehm Essen gegangen. Das war der letzte Abend, welchen Tante Anne und ich zusammen verbrachten.

Ihr Leben war nicht ganz so lang, wie ich es mir gewu¨nscht ha¨tte. Covid-19 verhinderte den Plan sie letzten Sommer oder Weihnachten noch einmal zu besuchen. Annemarie’s Leben war sicher nicht immer einfach, aber sie hat anderen viel Freude, Mut, Stabilita¨t, Essen, Trinken, und auch viel Liebe gegeben. Sie war und ist fu¨r mich eine Person, welche all Das representiert, was Gut in Deutschland und in meiner Heimat ist und war.

Annemarie is Home.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”-Pablo Picasso

I think my comedian friend Bobbie Oliver summed up January’s mood pretty well when she said, “Now when I wash my hands for 20 seconds, I sing Happy Birthday to the coronavirus.”

Yes, we are still self-quarantining, but enough about that. January began with…..I usually say something about New Years Eve, we didn’t have a New Year’s Eve. We did what we do any other pandemic night. We only stayed up until midnight because we were binge watching an old show.

The insurrection at the Capitol building in Washington DC earlier this month was shocking and disgusting. Andreas was glued to the news and the event found its way into most conversations for a few weeks. We were happy the inauguration on the 20th went smoothly and we have a new president. He seems to be busy trying to reverse some of the horrible things the former president put into place. I wish him luck.

A funny social distancing story, we moved our fire pit to a space in the garden where we could safely distance with two other people. Unfortunately, to do this you can’t huddle around the fire to stay warm. Yeah, didn’t think that through. We had two visits and frozen toes. We’ll wait for a warm day for company.

I completed my annual stained glass, polar bear commission for Special Olympics Delaware. Not being able to leave the house meant production went faster. I finished two weeks early and took a week off to make new pillow covers for our boring pillows. I’ve been wanting to do this for months.

The little men on the pillow in the back are cut from a sweatshirt I used to wear in the mid-eighties. The legs and arms on the monster are sewn from old socks.

Andreas has been teaching a winter session class called An Introduction to Ocean Science. The class meets every day for an hour and forty-five minutes on Zoom. It’s a lot of work and takes up most of his time, but he enjoys teaching and has a good group of students.

Andreas explains the Coriolis Effect for his students using a read cabbge and a beer coaster. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas explains the Coriolis Effect for his students using a red cabbage and a beer coaster. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We are sad to say that his Tante Annemarie passed away earlier this month. He has been writing a blog about her in his spare time. I thought it might be a short remembrance, but it is turning into a biography of her and his family. He is putting in a lot of time researching German history to better understand the time period she grew up in. Many calls have been made to his mother and brother in Germany to authenticate memories and stories. I’ll post it here when he is finished.

Andreas working on his blog over the weekend.
A slide of Andreas in Tante Anne’s garden 1962

Andreas is still experimenting with new recipes and spices for our usual dishes. We are trying to limit our shopping trips which encourages culinary creativity. If you have any new recipes you’ve recently discovered please share them.

I am keeping busy completing winter projects for my business and the house. I have a show coming up in February at a local café showing my Diner series and a Trashy Women show scheduled for April. Inspiration and new ideas come when I’m problem solving. There is no boredom, just a feeling of sameness in this box of a house. We are excited for spring. The daffodils have already started to push through the leaves. Last year’s seeds are organized and we are planning new vegetable beds. Snow is in the immediate forecast! We are well and hope you are too.

Daffodils
The daffodils think it’s spring.
Ready for warm weather!

Quiet Quarantine Christmas

We’ve had a very quiet December. Thinking back over the month I feel sad about that. I miss Christmas parties and my friends, but it has also been a fairly stress-free holiday minus all of the usual obligations.

We celebrated our 2nd anniversary at home with take-out. We considered traveling to a bed and breakfast, but what’s the point, most things are closed and we don’t feel comfortable in the places that are opened.

Anniversary gift from Andreas, an Angelique Kidjo CD wrapped with the only blooming flower in the garden.
Cheers to two years!

Andreas’ class finished mid-month and my private art classes on the deck outside haven’t been meeting as often because of the weather.

Student finishing a watercolor painting on a sunny morning.
Self portrait. I’ll teach that again when we can stop wearing masks.

Andreas has been chopping up our wood piles and we’ve been enjoying fires on colder nights. We trash picked a nice wood rack from a neighbor so we can store some wood near the house to keep it dry.

Andreas keeping warm on a cold day.

He has also been trying more new recipes. This month he made a Christmas Stollen, granola and ham.

I was very happy that we had some snow and that it stayed on the ground for a few days. I hope we get a lot more this year. Snow makes everything prettier.

Catching snow flakes
The next day everything was covered in ice.
Bird seed eater.

My friend Sherri and I have been walking in the evenings taking turns between our neighborhoods to see the Christmas lights. That’s been really fun. Andreas hung lights on the deck and we have little candles in our windows.

Both Andreas and I took a day off on Christmas day. I caught up on the newspapers and he read a book. Andreas cooked a ham from our friend Trebs’ farm along with a lot of red cabbage.

Newspaper nest
Best seat in the house.

On Boxing Day, we hosted our Scottish friend Pablo and Andreas cooked Bubble and Squeak. I think it turned out really well. We felt uncomfortable distancing ourselves so far from Pablo and wearing masks when we weren’t eating. All worth it to enjoy good company and stay safe.

Pablo with his own dining table.

Thanks to everyone who sent cards and cookies! We are fat and happy and miss you all very much.

Family Zoom party

We wish you all a healthy, happy New Year!

The Christmas Card

I spent a November evening looking through our 2020 life in photos trying to find this year’s Christmas card image. We have a few photos together, but in every one we are wearing masks. My dark sense of humor thinks this would make an “funny” card. Andreas says, “No, not for Christmas, it should be positive.” Back to the search.. garden photos.. no, not Christmassy either.

We didn’t travel ANYWHERE. Which feels strange to us; I didn’t go to the beach this fall. No Oregon photos, no Germany photos, just us in the house staying safe.

Just resting his eyes…not sleeping on the job. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Besides the Covid, (I don’t have to share a graph this month, you all know what’s going on,) it has been a good month. We have a new President on the way which we are both very happy and relieved about. Andreas worked the election polls again. His exposure to over 2,000 people was a little scary and another Covid test was taken.

This is my Biden won, the other guy lost face the day we heard the news.

I participated in The Newark Arts Alliance Gingerbread House contest. That turned out to be pretty fun. Thanks to my friend Joe Daigle and his epic effort of creating an edible Notre Dame it became a big event.

Article from the Newark Post
Gingerbread house making is a big mess. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum.
Bad dogs live here!
Notre Dame in Gingerbread with Gummy Bear stained glass by Joseph Daigle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
I know, it’s crazy amazing. He did such a good job. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
My high school friend, Joelle was in town and stopped by the Arts Alliance to see Notre Dame. Photos by Mrs. Pezely and Joelle.

Andreas had a nice birthday, I hope. It was quiet and he worked all day but the weekend before we had a small lunch party outside with his best friend Pablo and our brother-in-law George.

The birthday boy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We had a weird little Thanksgiving. Just the two of us, but thanks to pandemic times and modern technology we were able to see and speak to most of my family over Zoom. Our friends Mary and Les picked up Indian take-out food and dropped it off at our door. Andreas worked through the day, but took the evening off to watch a few movies. All in all, a good day.

Hopefully there will be cranberries and mashed potatoes on this table next year.
Tiny little family portraits. We live all over the US now, so this might be as good as it gets.

Maybe for some of you, spending time in the house has led to some renovations and re-arranging. I spent a lot of time this month moving my office upstairs from my studio. Once space was cleared in the studio, art supplies in the garage filled the office void, which brings us to today with a major garage clean out and re-arranging. That felt good.

Not the photo. haha

So, back to this Christmas card. We settled on a photo that simply captures a day in the life of being home. Nothing special or exotic, just home and we are happy here.

Before and After

Before
Before

After a month and a half of painting and cleaning, the rental property we purchased is ready. I’m so TIRED!! I’m also feeling happy that I met my deadline, came in under budget and the house looks good.

After
After

Back of house
Back of house

The inside painting ended up being a little more complicated than I imagined. Most of the walls and ceiling are wallpapered under existing paint. That meant that all the walls needed to be primed before two coats of paint. The trim and windows also required a primer coat. I tape all of my edges when I paint, but soon learned that when I removed the tape it pulled off old paint and wallpaper. Then there were the walls with wallpaper that needed to be removed.

Before dining room.
Before dining room.

After dining room
After dining room

During painting the dining room. Do I look tired? I AM! The room was hand painted with a brush. Every color has two coats of paint.
During painting the dining room. Do I look tired? I AM! The room was hand painted with a brush. Every color has two coats of paint.

Before dining room
Before dining room

Dining room after
After dining room

It was a steep learning curve aided by the sage advice from Facebook friends who suffered before me. I hired a painter friend to come on the weekends to handle the more difficult spackling work, wallpaper removal, ladder work in the hall and some of the rooms. His professionalism, knowledge and tricks were invaluable. I learned a lot from him and he did a great job.

Before hallway
Before hallway

After hallway
After hallway

After hallway
After hallway

I invited the former owners over to see the changes I made and they liked them. They even changed the heater filter for me while they were there.

Before kitchen
Before kitchen

After kitchen
After kitchen

Andreas and I had concerns that finding renters would be difficult because the University has been uncertain about opening in the fall. I’m happy to report that we found three, none are students, I know their families and I’ve known all of them for over a decade. Today I collected leases and handed out keys. The first to spend the night is a pet rabbit named Benny. It felt really good to turn over the house to others and know that I can work in my studio again tomorrow.

Before and after basement stairs. Why would I want to change this? haha
Before and after basement stairs. Why would I want to change this? haha

While I’ve been working at the house Andreas was offered a summer research job with a colleague in Copenhagen. We are hoping to travel there this winter so they can also work in person, but the timing is unknown because of America’s handling or mis-handling of the pandemic.

Before yeast cake
Before yeast cake

After. Andreas has been baking every weekend.
After. Andreas has been baking every weekend.

We are still quarantining here, but not as strictly. I’ve expanded my shopping to include the hardware and paint store and once in a while we find ourselves social distancing with Christina and George in the house if the weather is too hot. The University decided to have classes online in the fall which makes me happy and Andreas sad. He was really looking forward to teaching an undergraduate class in person.

Before home haircut.
Before home haircut.

After home haircut.
After home haircut. Andreas won’t let me cut his hair lately. He’s trying to bring back the feathered mullet.

Daily gardening has stopped because of the heat and mosquitoes, but the tomato plants are still being well cared for. A few are as tall as me and are producing fruit. The smaller plants at the new property are doing well too.

The beginning of our future gardens. We need rain.
The beginning of our future vegetable garden. We need rain.

Yesterday was my birthday and we enjoyed a delicious socially-distanced dinner at Christina and George’s place. It’s strange to sit down to dinner, not across the table, but across the room from each other and to wear masks in passing.

My birthday cakes. on the left a rhubarb cake by Andreas. That's a German one. I'm not 57. On the right a cake by Christina. Both very delicious and German. Christina's cake was her mother's recipe.
My birthday cakes. On the left a rhubarb cake by Andreas. That’s a German one, I’m not 57. On the right a cake by Christina. Both very delicious and German. Christina’s cake was her mother’s recipe.

Distance dining. Fantastic dinner by Christina. Photo by Christina Parsons
Distance dining. Fantastic birthday dinner by Christina. Photo by Christina Parsons

Life is good here. We hope you are doing well too. Please wear your mask.

 

Art Gardening in Nottingham Forest

There is a dove with babies living in that Trumpet vine. She doesn't seem to mind us.
There is a dove with babies living in that Trumpet vine. She doesn’t seem to mind us.

Star date: May 29, 2020, week 11 ½ of quarantine from Covid 19. The Governor will lift quarantine restrictions next week, but it is for economic not health reasons. The numbers of infected and dying are still relatively high here so, we are staying home. We’ll continue quarantining until those numbers go down. We are not sad about staying home, rations are holding out and Christina brought toilet paper.

Our hero Christina braved Costco and brought TP. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our hero Christina braved Costco and brought TP. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Last week Andreas and I finished our classes. I got a 93% in my German 1 class and now I wish I had taken it for credit. Ha ha. It was a lot of information to learn in a few months and I was getting pretty confused with different sentence structures in the end. I signed up for the next level class in the fall so I better figure out what I mixed up over the summer. We don’t know yet if the University will hold classes online or in person in September. We’re guessing that they will try to do both.

The sidewalk repair and heavy machinery driving by finished at the same time class did. They are working on a different street now, but they must like us because they’ve left their equipment, rock pile and potty on the side of our house. The rock pile is a huge attraction to the smaller, louder neighborhood children.

Thanks City of Newark for the new water pipe and sidewalk. These guys did a great job.
Thanks City of Newark for the new water pipe and sidewalk. These guys did a great job.

Since the weather warmed the garden grows and blooms. It started with the camellias, azaleas and Celandine poppies.

Andreas' favorite Fire Azaleas. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ favorite Fire Azaleas. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Peony. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Peony. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Now we are seeing irises, roses, peonies and Mountain Laurel. The Newark Arts Alliance Garden Tour is on for June 13th. Who knows what will be blooming then?

Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Graham Thomas rose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Graham Thomas rose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The gardener. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The gardener. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The vegetables we planted struggle. We really don’t have enough sun. Andreas’ poor tomatoes look sad and small, but they are still alive so we have hope. I can’t remember where I planted kale now. I don’t know if I’m seeing Kale or weeds. Sometimes I pick and eat it anyway. If you don’t hear from me after this post, you’ll know what happened. I just harvested some cherries and the blueberries and currants should be ready soon. The birds that we have been admiring will soon become our competitors for food. They will probably win.

Mountain Laurel. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Mountain Laurel. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We try to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. We re-stained the deck, have been eating outside and occasionally hosting a family member or friend for social distance coffee. Today, however was hot and humid and the mosquitoes have returned. If you are from here you know that they are our “state bird” and there are a lot of them.

Dinner on the deck. Andreas cooked. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Dinner on the deck. Andreas cooked. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

I’ve been painting. Nothing major, just fun stuff around the house. I painted a bird house, signs for the plants, the mailbox, a bee house for a friend, some cement mushrooms for the yard and have been working on paintings to show with the Trashy Women. Now that it’s warmer and sunnier I will be making mosaic stepping stones to sell at the Garden Tour and the Art Car needs its annual paint refresh.

Wren house and photo by Dragonfly
Wren house and photo by Dragonfly

A rose by any other name is still a rose. Sign and Photo by Dragonfly
A rose by any other name is still a rose. Sign and Photo by Dragonfly

Mason Bee house and photo by Dragonfly
Mason Bee house and photo by Dragonfly

Snail mail with flair. By Dragonfly Leathrum
Snail mail with flair. By Dragonfly Leathrum

Is it poisonous? Yes! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Is it poisonous? Yes! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas is in research proposal and paper writing mode in his office. He sent something off to NASA last night.

We hope you all are well, keeping busy, wearing your masks and staying safe.

Yeah, probably not coffee in that mug. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Yeah, probably not coffee in that mug. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

 

 

 

 

Same Storm Different Boats

Week seven of quarantine. Andreas just sent his parents a depressing email (and probably graphs) commenting on how poorly our country was handling Covid19 compared with Germany. He asked that I write something uplifting to balance him out. He is still a little obsessed with monitoring the news and creating virus death graphs, but is beginning to focus more on his own research. It’s good that he’s teaching this semester.

Andreas has been spending sometime trying and following new recipes. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas has been spending sometime trying and following new recipes. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

He learned how to cook my favorite German meal. Kartoffelpuffer mit Lox. He made homemade applesauce too. Yum!
He learned how to cook my favorite German meal. Kartoffelpuffer mit Lox. He made homemade applesauce too. Yum!

Andreas figured out that he can order German chocolate through Amazon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas figured out that he can order German chocolate through Amazon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Busy is modus operandi. If we stay busy with work, school and projects we don’t feel as isolated and the weeks go faster. The tough days, at least for me, are when one project is finished and another has yet to begin. Luckily, we have an ongoing project of taking care of the garden and tending to our new vegetable plants. As of April 23rd, the Newark Garden Tour is still scheduled for June 13th and we are preparing for that. It may be cancelled later, we don’t know.

Pink Camillia in the garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Pink Camillia in the garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Celendine Poppy in the front garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Celendine Poppy in the front garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Wildlife! Yikes! Photo by Dragonfly Leathru
Wildlife! Yikes! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I painted a house for bees. They're not using it yet. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
I painted a house for bees. They’re not using it yet. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Our garden is looking a little torn up at the front because the City came and installed a new water main under the sidewalk.

Our new water pipe. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our new water pipe. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

After they finished in front of our house, I heard the sound of rushing water. It was so loud that we could hear it at the top floor. We checked all of our pipes and the computer data of our water usage online. Everything was OK. I called the City and they didn’t believe us saying it was probably our problem. I called back a few days later and spoke to someone in the water department. She didn’t believe me, but sent people out. Those people didn’t believe me and came into the house to check the meter. No masks or gloves!! When they finally checked the connection at the sidewalk they said, oh, it’s us. Four days later, the water is still leaking, they sent a crew to fix it.

Fixing the leak and cracking the driveway.
Fixing the leak and cracking the driveway.

One workman asked the others, “Ok, which one of you were drinking when you installed this?” He asked the man digging in the hole how it was going. Not so good the man replied, Its wet down here.

We had a nice Easter with George and Christina. They distanced themselves from us on our deck and we shared cake and coffee with at least six feet between us at all times. We Zoomed with our German family using two laptops, a phone and a security web-cam to accommodate all levels of computer skills. Later Easter evening, we Zoomed with my mother’s side of the family while we ate dinner. That was probably the only time we’ve all been “together” in over a decade.

Easter Zoom Kaffee Klatsch America and Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Easter Zoom Kaffee Klatsch America and Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Some fun things have happened in the neighborhood. One day people created chalk drawings on their sidewalks and they have been placing teddy bears in their windows so the kids can have a “bear hunt.”

We have a Polar Bear for the bear hunt. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
We have a Polar Bear for the bear hunt. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Our sidewalk message before the sidewalk was taken out. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our sidewalk message before the sidewalk was taken out. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I’ve been sewing masks and clothes, working on a commission and most recently painted the fireplace.

Before...
Before…

After!!
After!!

We have also used Zoom to teach (Andreas) and take a class (me.)

George, James and I "in" German class.
George, James and I “in” German class.

We try to keep in touch with family and friends.

Happy hour with high school friends. Screen shot by Christina Peters.
Happy hour with high school friends. Screen shot by Christina Peters.

German family Zoom time. So cool.
German family Zoom time. So cool.

We are grateful to have access to technology like this, grateful to have work that we can do from home and very grateful that we are well and the majority of our family, friends and acquaintances are still well. We realize that even though we are all experiencing the same virus, quarantine “storm” that we’re all not in the same boat and that this experience is worse for some.

Our glasses are fogging up. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our glasses are fogging up. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I think we are still happy to be home but are definitely looking forward to warmer, drier weather so we can work outside.

 

Self-quarantine memories of my Father

My Father wrote this story about my Grandmother’s hair. The story began during the “Spanish Flu.” I’m sharing here mostly with family, but I think it’s a good story. My Grandmother lived in Middletown and Dover, Delaware USA.

In my Father’s words:

(In these days of pandemic, isolation and social distancing, I am reminded of my mother’s stories of a similar time in the past. I will try to tell the story based on some childhood remembrances, family history documents, genealogical research and my imagination.  I have included some snapshots that Mom had saved.  The people in my story are real.  Some events are historical, some my personal experiences, and some made up as I would imagine them.  I am sure that my older brothers have different remembrances and I would like to hear their corrections to my narrative.)

Mom’s Hair

My story begins in 1918 at the farm and home of Fred and Lydia Baker, their children and extended family.  This was a four-generation household including the parents, children, Lydia’s widowed mother, Mrs. Hester Shockley, and daughter Ethel’s toddler son, John.  Also living on the farm was a hired hand. Other workers would come and go as needed.  The two boys, Grover now 25 and Fred Jr., 20 had left last year for war in France and their letters home were exciting.  Grover, Mom’s favorite, had joined the National Guard in 1912 and served from 1915 to 1917 guarding the border in New Mexico against the bandit, Poncho Villa.  He was a wagon driver and was promoted to Cook in France.  Fred Jr. joined up in 1917 and served as an Army Corporal in France.  The four girls are at home:  Ethel, 24, Hester, 22, Bertha, 21, and my mother, Margaret, age 7.  Bertha will marry and leave at the end of November.

Grover Baker
Grover Baker

Hester and Fred Baker Jr. ( My dad wrote Bertha, but I think the photo says Hester)
Hester and Fred Baker Jr. ( My dad wrote Bertha, but I think the photo says Hester)

The family kept up with the news of the world, especially the progress of the war in Europe.  News then came that fall of a particularly deadly disease, the “Spanish” flu, sweeping the country.  Schools, churches and public assemblies were closed and everyone was urged to stay home and in isolation.  The Baker farm was 3 miles from town and one quarter mile from the nearest neighbor.  They were self-sufficient and isolation was the normal routine.  When the crops came in, they could be delivered and paid for with minimum contact with others.  There was no sickness on the farm.  Everyone rejoiced at the news of the November 11 Armistice to end the fighting of World War I.

Margaret Baker Leathrum before 1919 with her hair tied up in rags.
Margaret Baker  before 1919 with her hair tied up in rags.

1919 came with milder weather and less snow than a year ago.  The farm was looking forward to a prosperous year.  Then in the springtime came two events, joyous and devastating.  First, Grover and Fred Jr. came home from France.  Second, the flu pandemic was back with a vengeance.  There was a real danger of sickness on the farm and the house was quarantined.  Family members without sickness were displaced to the outbuildings and fields.  I don’t recall hearing about which family members were outside and which were quarantined or of the severity of disease.  None of the family members died.  In an effort to contain the disease or, possibly just to avoid caring for it, long hair was cut and heads shaved.  Mom, age 8. had her hair cut.  This was apparently a traumatic experience or she just did not like it that way, but it was not cut again for almost 80 years.

Mom’s hair grew and styles changed.  Before she married in 1933, her hair was dark brown and usually had a part and stylish wave in the front and was gathered into a bun in the back.  The bun became two buns, one on each side.

Mom (Margaret) and Aunt Bertha 1927
Mom (Margaret) and Aunt Bertha 1927

Margaret Baker
Margaret Baker

Margaret Baker 1932
Margaret Baker 1932

As her family grew, braided pigtails replaced the buns in Mom’s hair.  This basic style stayed with her for about 40 years.  As a boy, I remember watching her routine as she cared for her hair.  Washing and drying were major undertakings, drying as she combed it out while sitting in the back yard on sunny days or over the furnace register in the dining room.  When we got a new furnace with hot water baseboards, she had to buy an electric hair dryer which she never liked.  The pigtails were braided then wrapped around her head, first one way twice around then the other way twice around then the arrangement held with hairpins.  If she was going out, a hairnet covered the whole thing.  When I asked her why she didn’t wear her hair short and wavy or curly like other women we knew, she would tell me about the 1919 quarantine.

George, Jimmy, Margaret and George Jr. ( My Father was born a few years later
George, Jimmy, Margaret and George Jr. ( My Father was born a few years later)

Margaret 1960
Margaret 1960

Margaret and Amy (Dragonfly) 1969
Margaret and Amy (Dragonfly) 1969

By 1980, Mom’s hair had greyed then turned to a bright, snowy white.  Her hair was also thinner and finer and harder to braid into pigtails.  So, the pigtails were replaced by a big, swept up bun on top, held with hairpins.  A hairnet usually covered everything.

Margaret in 1980. She was incredibly good at crafts
Margaret in 1980. She was incredibly good at crafts

Margaret in 1985 on the front porch.
Margaret in 1985 on the front porch.

When Mom moved into White Chapel Assisted Living in 1998, her care givers and daughters-in-law convinced her that her hair would be easier to manage if it were cut.  So, her hair was cut, but not so short that it could not be collected and pinned up to the top of her head.

Margaret 1998
Margaret 1998

Mom died on Sunday. November 7, 1999.  When I was called to rush back to the hospital that morning, I got there just after she passed.  The nurses had straightened her bed, removed the IV’s, tubes and machines.  They had also combed her hair out straight and over her shoulders.  It looked so strange and they obviously had no regard for the eight-year-old girl in 1919.

-Roland Leathrum April 5, 2020

 

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?