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

 

 

Adventures of Tipsy Cave People in Cochem on the Moselle

View of Cochem and the Moselle from Reichsburg Castle. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
View of Cochem and the Moselle from Reichsburg Castle. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

We arrived in Cochem as part of Andreas’ bucket list wish to explore wine growers on the Moselle River. I say part of because his initial wish was to bike along the river stopping in the small towns for wine as he wished. We compromised by staying in a central location with day trips. We chose a lovely hotel/ home run by the super bubbly Ute. She even picked us up from the train station.

Reichsburg Castle Cochem Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Reichsburg Castle Cochem Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our daily German breakfast in Ute's living room. She insisted that we pack any extra food that we couldn't eat at breakfast for our travels. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Our daily German breakfast in Ute’s living room. She insisted that we pack any extra food that we couldn’t eat at breakfast for our travels. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

The hotel was a few blocks from the Reichsburg Castle and we had a wonderful view of it lit up at night from our balcony.

2018’s summer heat wave wasn’t a fluke, we endured temperatures in the mid-nineties along the Moselle River last week (June 2019). Ninety plus degrees in the US is uncomfortable, but bearable with fans and A/C. Germany hasn’t had as much need for those things yet. Also, some here feel that air-conditioning will make you sick. We adapted following the local example of only opening the windows at night and blocking the sun with curtains. Like other traveler’s though, this was our week to explore the area. Our shared discomfort gave us something to small talk about and we met a lot of friendly people including other Americans.

Andreas enjoying the late evening (9:45pm) breezes on our balcony while watching women's World Cup soccer. The castle is up the hill to the right. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas enjoying the cooler late evening (9:45pm) breezes on our balcony while watching women’s World Cup soccer. The castle is up the hill to the right. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Our first day started with lunch with wine (there’s a theme here) where we were seated with a nice couple from Germany and Thailand who slowly warmed up to us. Next, we hiked our tipsy selves up the hill to the castle for amazing views of Cochem. We didn’t see the inside of the castle this trip. We ended the day at a wine seller in the cellar. Not just a cellar, the back of the room was carved into the stone in the hillside. Very old, cool place with a wonderful selection of wine grown on the side of a mountain a few bends away in the river.

Andreas with his first taste of what became our favorite wine a 2015 Neefer Frauenberg Riesling. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas with his first taste of what became our favorite wine a 2015 Neefer Frauenberg Riesling-Spatlese. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On the second day, with the temperature climbing, we took the train to Moselkern to hike to Burg Eltz castle tucked into the wooded mountains. It was an eight-mile hike in the heat, but most of it was shaded by trees.

In Moselkern walking to the hiking path that leads to Burg Eltz Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In Moselkern walking to the hiking path that leads to Burg Eltz Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Eltz Castle from the hiking path. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Eltz Castle from the hiking path. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The castle is one of the most interesting I’ve visited. It’s been in the same family for 800 years (33 generations) and the current generation still lives there. This means that it’s been kept up and a lot of the rooms are still decorated as they’ve been for hundreds of years.

This was the writing room off of the main bedroom in part of the castle. The photo is taken from a glossy postcard because photos are not allowed. I told Andreas I was going to paint our house like this. He said, "Knock yourself out, baby." Only a few rooms that we saw were painted this way.
This was the writing room off of the main bedroom in part of the castle. The photo is taken from a glossy postcard because photos are not allowed. I told Andreas I was going to paint our house like this. He said, “Knock yourself out, baby.” Only a few rooms that we saw were painted this way.
This photo taken from a postcard is of our favorite painting in the Castle. It's by Michael Pacher who was born in 1435. He was one of the first painters of his time to master perspective. He couldn't read or write so this book he painted is full of gibberish.
This photo taken from a postcard is of our favorite painting in the Castle. It’s by Michael Pacher who was born in 1435. He was one of the first painters of his time to master perspective. He couldn’t read or write so this book he painted is full of gibberish.

There are also treasury rooms in the lower levels where you can see their finer trinkets, jewels and weapons. Thanks to Andreas’ brother Burkhard we knew to ask for a tour in English. It may be my favorite castle because I was able to learn more through the English tour..

Interior courtyard at Eltz Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Interior courtyard at Eltz Castle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Back in Cochem it was cold showers and a long nap then back to the cellar cave for Riesling and a small dinner. At the castle we met a nice couple from Berkeley, California and we recommended our wine find. We were happy to see them sitting in the cave when we arrived where they had befriended a young traveling German couple. We had a nice time comparing travel notes and complaining about the heat.

Alte Gutsschanke otherwise known to us as the cave. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Alte Gutsschanke otherwise known to us as the cave. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On our last day Andreas and I had blisters on our feet and my ankle was mysteriously swollen so, we opted for a boat to take us to our next destination along the river. A highlight of the trip for me. I loved seeing the towns along the water and the herons and swans.

Cochem from the boat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cochem from the boat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Waiting for on the boat for the water to rise in the lock so we can continue on the river. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Waiting for on the boat for the water to rise in the lock so we can continue on the river. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Beilstein from the boat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Beilstein from the boat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We arrived in Beilstein on the Moselle which began around AD 800. In 1309 a Jewish community was founded and their graveyard still exists on the mountain above the city. Andreas found it on his hike past the castle. The last burial stone is dated 1938 which is the year of the Kristallnacht that marks the onset of what became the holocaust. Most people of the Jewish faith from this town perished on the killing fields of Poland and Ukraine. Very few escaped in time to America to remember Jewish life on the Moselle River for a history commissioned in 1996 by the local county government.

A stone in the Jewish graveyard above town. Photo by Andreas Muenchow.
A stone in the Jewish graveyard above town. Photo by Andreas Muenchow.
View of Beilstein and St. Joseph's Church from the ruins of Castle Metternich. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
View of Beilstein and St. Joseph’s Church from the ruins of Castle Metternich. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The Moselle from the ruins of Castle Metternich. The lock we sailed through is in the distance. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The Moselle from the ruins of Castle Metternich. The lock we sailed through is in the distance. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas and I hiked up the hill to the ruined castle to see the views of the river and the town. It was pretty spectacular. I spent an hour there in the shade watching the ships come and go.

The view on the other side of the castle with Andreas standing by the ruin. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The view on the other side of the castle with Andreas standing by the ruin. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

There was a little café in front of the church where Andreas tried another local Riesling, and we both had cake. Then the boat ride back to Cochem, cold showers and a nap until the heat abated a little.

Inside St. Joseph's Catholic Church and Carmelite Monestery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Inside St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and Carmelite Monestery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We considered trying a different restaurant for dinner but didn’t get far, and returned to the cave. The young German couple that we met the night before returned as well. This night we had a nice conversation with the owner, Arthur. We bought four bottles of our favorite wines that, it turned out, all came from the same steep slope called Neefer Frauenberg.

Last night at our cool cave. This was our typical dinner of a meat or cheese board with bread and sometimes a little soup. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Last night at our cool cave. This was our typical dinner of a meat or cheese board with bread and sometimes a little soup. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We purposely didn’t explore too much in Cochem because we hope to return again. It’s a beautiful, friendly place. Have you been there?

 

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.

85 Years Strong

Birthday sweet bread baked by Christa
Birthday sweet bread baked by Christa

Happy 85th Birthday to Andreas’ father (Vati) Lothar! We recently spent a wonderful weekend in Neustadt in Holstein by the Baltic Sea to visit Andreas’ parents and celebrate this big birthday.

Neustadt Harbor at sunset. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Neustadt Harbor at sunset. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Lothar was born in 1934 six weeks premature. He made it through some bad times during and after WWII in what is now north western Poland. At age 20 he was ready to work on electric utility grids in Venuezuela, but his father refused to sign the required permission as he was not yet 21. Two years later he joined the newly formed German Air Force instead where he served until his retirement some 30 years later. When Andreas was born, the young family was stationed in Leck, Nordfriesland near the Danish border. He, his wife Christa, and three children moved a few times with the Air Force and have been on a lot of vacations in Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and later as retirees America.

Celebrating with champagne. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Celebrating with champagne. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

This past weekend we had a relaxing time walking along Neustadt Harbor, some wonderful meals and lots of long conversations piecing together the past.

There are a lot of swans in Neustadt. I love them. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
There are a lot of swans in Neustadt. I love them. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christa helping me collect beach glass. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christa helping me collect beach glass. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The Muenchow’s longtime neighbor and friend Hannelore joined us for coffee and marzipan birthday cake on Saturday. She has known Andreas since he was a little boy in Lederhosen living in Leck, Nordfriesland.

Hannelore and Lothar. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Hannelore and Lothar. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
When in or near Lubeck you must have Marzipan. This is Lothar's delicious birthday cake. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
When in or near Lubeck you must have Marzipan. This is Lothar’s delicious birthday cake. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christa enjoying catching up with Hannelore. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christa enjoying catching up with Hannelore. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Before we left on Sunday, we found old family slides and the slide projector to look at some images that haven’t been seen in twenty years. We are bringing a few home to the States to digitize and print.

Christa introducing us to the guests at their engagement party May 7th 1960. Nagewitz and Muenchow family. Christa is in the middle wearing the dress with the bow and Lothar is behind her in a dark suit with dark hair. Christa is commenting on the fact that she is now older than the grandparents sitting in the front.Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christa introducing us to the guests at their engagement party May 7th 1960. Nagewitz and Muenchow family. Christa is in the middle wearing the dress with the bow and Lothar is behind her in a dark suit with dark hair. Christa is commenting on the fact that she is now older than the grandparents sitting in the front.Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
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.
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.
Andreas points to a photo of himself and a neighbor taken in Leck in 1962.
Andreas points to a photo of himself and a neighbor taken in Leck in 1962.

When I wished Lothar a happy birthday, I said here’s to eighty-five more! He said, “Oh no, only wish for five more at a time.” So, here’s to five more. In guter Gesundheit!

Selfie with the birthday boy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Selfie with the birthday boy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

 

Bremerhaven Germany with Kids

We recently had the pleasure of hosting my freshman college roommate and her family for the weekend in Bremerhaven.

Stefanie and family. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family. The younger kid could have chosen a larger stuffed animal at the zoo but she told her dad that this one was all alone on the shelf so she chose him. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My friend Stefanie and I met thirty-one years ago when we were matched as roommates at LaGrange College in southwestern Georgia. Stefanie was a foreign student from Germany and I was a crazy girl from Delaware.

Stefanie and Dragonfly. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Stefanie and Dragonfly. We both became high school teachers and had a lot to talk about.Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Surprisingly, I was already friends with her cousin who was studying at the University of Delaware. (Small world) I only attended LaGrange for a year, but Stefanie and I kept in touch. When I was studying Art in Wolverhampton, England in 1991 I visited her and her family in Germany on my spring break and Andreas and I were able to visit her during our travels in Germany Christmas 2017.

Luckily, she is not too far away in Bonn and was able see us with her husband and two girls ages five and eight. The older one loves all animals, especially horses and the younger one loves speed and sport.

Swashbuckling on the dike. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Three kids swashbuckling on the dike. Andreas’ way of keeping the kids busy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Library books, a book about the animals in the zoo by gallery owner Fernando Valero and paper and pencils were my way of keeping kids busy.
Library books, a book about the animals in the zoo by gallery owner Fernando Valero and paper and pencils were my way of keeping kids busy.

We had a wonderful weekend seeing the Harbor through their eyes. The Harbor area was so fun for them we never made it to town.

Playground by the zoo. This girl loves all animals, even if they're wooden statues. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Playground by the zoo. This girl loves all animals, even if they’re wooden statues. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sitting under a docked ship for shade eating ice cream. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sisters sitting under a docked ship for shade eating ice cream. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Proudly wearing a maple seed on the nose while the adults enjoy boring things like coffee and beer. at the Waserschout. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Proudly wearing a maple seed on the nose while the adults enjoy boring things like coffee and beer. at the Wasserschout. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas' Birkenstocks, sticky from and earlier Sprite spillage at the Waserschout get a proper burial in the sand. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ Birkenstocks, sticky from an earlier Sprite soda spillage at the Waserschout, get a proper burial in the sand. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Mike burying the kids.
Mike burying the kids.
Stuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In Bremerhaven when the tide goes out on the Weser River you play in the mud. Andreas spent many days playing in the mud in Denmark as a child and had to share in the fun with the girls. Yuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In Bremerhaven when the tide goes out on the Weser River you play in the mud. Andreas spent many days playing in the mud in Denmark as a child and had to share the fun with the girls. Yuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Green Weserstrand mud everywhere. Happy kids. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Green Weser River mud everywhere. Happy kids. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cleaned up, in pjs and exhausted after a fun day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cleaned up, in pjs and exhausted after a fun day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sunday morning pancakes with Andreas. The girls helped with the cooking and got a few math lessons with blueberries. We also know Andreas' secret ingredient now thanks to the eight year olds sensitive nose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sunday morning pancakes with Andreas. The girls helped with the cooking and got a few math lessons with blueberries. We also know Andreas’ secret ingredient now thanks to the eight year old’s sensitive nose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The girls added blueberries, raspberries and strawberries to their pancake creations. When the sat down to eat they asked for plain pancakes instead. Ha ha Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The girls added blueberries, raspberries and strawberries to their pancake creations. When they sat down to eat they asked for plain pancakes instead. Ha ha Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Next was the Bremerhaven zoo. Five year old asks who wants to look at an old bird when there are pumas over there! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Next was the Bremerhaven Zoo. Five year old asks who wants to look at an old bird when there are pumas over there! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas and I are now up to date on the latest in toy technology including Tiptoi. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas and I are now up to date on the latest in toy technology including Tiptoi. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family brought us a big mystery box of Haribo seconds from the Haribo outlet store in Bonn. We sent them home with our Christmas tree for their garden and Michelle Obama's book in English. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family brought us a big mystery box of Haribo seconds from the Haribo outlet store in Bonn. We sent them home with our Christmas tree for their garden and Michelle Obama’s book in English. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Definitely mystery gummies.
Definitely mystery gummies.
Best gift of all.
Best gift of all.
This is Andreas fifteen minutes after everyone left. I fell asleep after I took the photo and we napped for two hours. Stefanie, I don't know how you and Mike do it. We had a super fun time and we can't wait to visit with all of you again!
This is Andreas fifteen minutes after everyone left. I fell asleep after I took the photo and we napped for two hours. Stefanie, I don’t know how you and Mike do it. We had a super fun time and we can’t wait to visit with all of you again!

Guest Artist in Bremerhaven Germany

Greeting the students from Berufsbildende Schulen Sophie School at Art Impressions Gallery Bremerhaven, Germay. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Greeting the students from Geschwister Scholl Schule at Art Impressions Gallery Bremerhaven, Germany. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

My Germany bucket/wish list for this sabbatical year is checked off. I created a new body of work, had an art exhibit, and last week I was given the opportunity to speak to five high school art classes. I was also invited to visit their school and interact with the students as they worked on their projects.

An Art classroom at the Berufsbildende Schulen Sophie School. The students are working on sculpture projects. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
An Art classroom at the Geschwister Scholl Schule. Main class, 5 hours of art during the week. The students are working on sculpture projects. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
End of the year art instructor's desk. True anywhere. Ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
End of the year art instructor’s desk. True anywhere. Ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Since I’m an art instructor in America and students in Germany study English, I thought it would be fun to visit a class to show them my artwork and have conversations in English. Through my show at Art Impressions Gallery I became friendly with the gallery owner, Fernando Valero who invited me to his garden birthday party. There I met local high school art teacher, Christiane Matthai who teaches at the Geschwister Scholl Schule in Bremerhaven. I told her I was interested in speaking to students and she not only brought her students to my exhibit but invited me to her classroom.

Art instructor Christiane Matthai offering a funny suggestion for her students project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthäi offering a funny suggestion for her students project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthai giving one on one help to a student. The antlers on the table are made with a glue gun and painted. It's all glue. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthai giving one on one help to a student. The antlers on the table are made with a glue gun and painted. They’re all glue. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Both experiences were wonderful. At the gallery I spoke about the theme for my show and then a little bit about each work individually. I shared my inspiration for the images and the watercolor and watercolor pencil techniques used in rendering them.

Speaking about my inspiration and technique. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Speaking about my inspiration and technique. Photo by Christiane Matthai

I showed a Power Point presentation that I prepared on the Ship last summer for the scientists about the other art mediums I work in, and about my past artistic and work experiences. I wanted the students to know that I haven’t made a career out of painting old women in diners, I also paint goats on skateboards, make stained glass windows from garbage and drive an Art Car.

Explaining my past and current work with a Power Point presentation. Art Impressions Gallery owner, Fernando Valero Delgado stands in the right of the photo. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Explaining my past and current work with a Power Point presentation. Art Impressions Gallery owner, Fernando Valero stands in the right of the photo. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

I really enjoyed each class. I was curious about the similarities and differences I would observe comparing German kids to American kids. No differences I could see or sense bar one and that was that the German students showed more independence. The teacher was recently sick and I asked her if she had to pay for her substitute like the teachers do in California. She said that that subs are not hired for high school classes. Her students acquired the key for the room, worked independently and cleaned up after themselves. That was shocking to me. I could see how it was possible though after spending time in her classroom. I observed the students set up their projects, work independently when their teacher wasn’t giving them one on one time, and clean up their area. They spoke to each other quietly and worked steadily throughout the long class period without need for redirection.

Student working on her Louise Bourgeois inspired sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Student working on her Louise Bourgeois inspired sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The student's assignment was to begin with a plate and incorporate that into their sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The student’s assignment was to begin with a plate and incorporate that into their sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The German student’s clothing, shoes, hair styles and demeanor were so similar to my students. I told them if I saw them in America I would never guess that they were from Germany unless they spoke to me. It’s interesting how access to the internet is changing design cross culturally. Also, their English vocabulary and pronunciation was very good; better than they think it is.

Listening to what the students like about the work and answering questions. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Listening to what the students like about the work and answering questions. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

I feel very lucky to be given this experience and hope to work with Christiane again during our future visits.

A Wonderful gift for my time from teacher and students. All things from the fair trade store. Very sweet of them!
A Wonderful gift for my time from teacher and students. All things from the fair trade store. Very sweet of them!

 

Delaware Artist exhibits in Bremerhaven Germany

Newark, Delaware artist Dragonfly Leathrum exhibits in Dragonfly Germany. WHAT?!? Ha ha, seen here enjoying her show through wine goggles. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum
Newark, Delaware artist Dragonfly Leathrum exhibits in Bremerhaven Germany. WHAT?!? Ha ha, seen here enjoying her show through wine goggles. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum

Newark, Delaware artist Dragonfly Leathrum exhibits new work in Bremerhaven Germany. The artist exhibited seventeen watercolor and colored pencil paintings and thirteen pencil and colored pencil drawings. All artwork was created in an eight-month time span while on sabbatical.

Exhibits in Germany, thirty works created in eight months, watercolor paintings? Who is this person? Me? How did that happen? If someone had read that first paragraph to me two years ago and said that’s going to be you, I wouldn’t have believed them. I would have said that it sounds even more far fetched than some of the goals I set for myself in my sketchbook. If you follow this blog you know how this happened. If not, the cliff note version is that I met a wonderful German/ American Oceanographer just shy of two years ago. We started dating, fell in love moved in together, moved to Germany for a sabbatical, and got married. For the detailed version of that journey see previous posts.

Portrait of Andreas Muenchow pencil on paper 8x11" in the National Cafe' Bremerhaven Germany. Drawing and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Portrait of Andreas Muenchow pencil on paper 8×11″ in the National Cafe’ Bremerhaven Germany. Drawing and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

So here I am in Germany for a year and I have the freedom for the first time in my life to dedicate most of my time to creating art, but my studio and supplies are in Newark, Delaware. I can’t paint in acrylics or oils and I can’t create stained glass windows (or can I?) without a large investment in new supplies, and then how do I ship them home? My solution to this first world, artist problem was to switch to watercolors and colored pencils. This worked well on our research trip in the Arctic and has been a wonderful solution to creating new work quickly that is easy to ship and can also fit in a suitcase.

Studio space aboard the FS Maria S. Merian in the Greenland Sea. Just enough space for a little box of watercolors and some colored pencils. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Studio space aboard the FS Maria S. Merian in the Greenland Sea. Just enough space for a little box of watercolors and some colored pencils. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My art goals during my stay in Bremerhaven were to 1. Practice a drawing/ painting skill that I want to improve on for future work, 2. Create a new/full body of work with one theme, in one medium that I can exhibit when I return to the States and 3. Icing on the cake, and a dream, to have a show in Germany.

One thing I've improved upon is transferring a small drawing to larger paper using the grid system. I hope this improves my mural painting skills in the future.
One thing I’ve improved upon is transferring a small drawing to larger paper using the grid system. I hope this improves my mural painting skills in the future.

So, what to paint? The blank tablet of watercolor paper asks, “What will it be, ma’am?” I ask myself what would I like to see on the wall? What do other people want to see on their walls? What’s important to document? After a lot of thought I chose to create dining companions. Portraits were my challenge that needed a lot of practice and I enjoy figure drawings more when the background gives some information. I was also a bit lonely. I chose to paint friends, relatives, people from the newspaper, a few faces from online sources and one self-portrait. If the face was interesting and the figures were in a dining situation, I was ready to paint them.

Tourist Diners watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm. Portraits of Jason and Erin Wright in a Bremerhaven restaurant.
Tourist Diners, watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm. Portraits of Jason and Erin Wright in a Bremerhaven restaurant.

One theme and all in watercolor with colored pencil. (this is unusual for me) In the few months since I began this project my drawings and paintings have improved with practice which inspires me to keep going.

Now for a show in Germany, I approached a few galleries, some were interested but didn’t have an opening until 2020. By chance I found a gallery close to my neighborhood with an opening in April and I was able to book it. Yay, a show!

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Art Impressions Gallery, pencil and colored pencil 8x11"
Art Impressions Gallery, pencil and colored pencil 8×11″

Uh oh…now I need to matte and frame thirty pieces of artwork and I can’t bring these frames home to Delaware. The Owner of Art Impressions Gallery saved me the matting costs by applying for and receiving a grant from the city for exhibiting an international artist. For frames I did something I would never consider doing in Newark and that was to purchase all the frames from IKEA with plexi windows instead of glass.

These IKEA frames aren't so bad from a distance.
These IKEA frames aren’t so bad from a distance.

(I can hear my artist friends and my framer 4000 miles away screaming NO!!! in unison.) Those were not easy to transport on the 505 bus. I will donate them to the gallery or a school when I leave for student artists.

Gallery owner Fernando Valero hangs the show at Art Impressions Gallery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Gallery owner Fernando Valero hangs the show at Art Impressions Gallery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We had the show opening on April 27th 2019, it was a success. Four of the paintings were sold through commission, three sold through social media before the show and two sold opening night. Framing costs covered.

Andreas Muenchow, his mother, Christa in red and our wonderful Landlords from Peace4you at the opening at Art Impressions. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas Muenchow, his mother, Christa in red and our wonderful Landlords from Peace4you at the opening at Art Impressions. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas' father with his portrait. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ father with his portrait. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The local newspaper covered the show twice and I’m looking forward to two art classes from the local high school to visit the show next week.

An article about the show from Der Nordsee-Zeitung
An article about the show from Der Nordsee-Zeitung

My next goal is to complete at least three more paintings before mid-July and to apply for a grant through the Delaware Division of the Arts.

Traveling Diner, self-portrait watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm
Traveling Diner, self-portrait watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm

 

No Groundhog Day in Goslar

Goslar, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Goslar, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

End of winter blues, my solitary studio routine, and homesickness were getting me down last week. I mentioned to Andreas that my routine was beginning to feel like Groundhog Day  the movie in its predictability. So, Andreas suggested a weekend getaway to somewhere new. Goslar, slightly north of center in Germany was chosen. I like older German architecture and he likes hiking and geocaching thus Goslar, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the edge of the Harz Mountains was chosen. Goslar is one of the top 10 towns in Germany that wasn’t bombed during WWII.

We spent two days in the town mostly walking here and there looking for geocaches and cool things to photograph. It’s a wonderful place for a weekend getaway.

Andreas loves tea time with cake. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas loves tea time with cake. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
A river runs through it.
A river runs through it.
Downspout art. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Downspout art. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

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Our Hotel. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our hotel. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
We got a surprise room upgrade to a two story suite with a kitchen.
We got a surprise room upgrade to a two story suite with a kitchen.
Andreas on a garden wall behind the palace. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas on a garden wall behind the Imperial Palace. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The view of Goslar from the top of our trail on the mountain. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The view of Goslar from the end of our trail on the mountain. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas on the edge and a beautiful view. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas on the edge with a beautiful view. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dragonfly away from the edge and ready to go back to town. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Dragonfly away from the edge and ready to go back to town. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Oh look, a restaurant half way down the mountain! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Oh look, a restaurant half way down the mountain! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Hang glider runway. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Hang glider runway. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Hang gliders
Hang gliders
There's a geocache hiding in here somewhere.
There’s a geocache hiding in here somewhere.
Artwork by Botero! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Artwork by Botero! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Traveling south and inland we were happy to see signs of spring arriving. Flowers, flowering trees and some sunshine. I’m looking forward to warmer weather.

Minimalist Wardrobe Expat Style

How do you know how many clothes you’ll need for a year in a different country? If you only want to move with a suitcase and a backpack which pieces are most important? These are hard questions to answer. Andreas and I wanted to bring the minimal amount that we might need with us to Germany. We had to plan for three seasons, a month in the Arctic and other travel. (The institute Andreas is doing research with provided us with cold weather gear in the Arctic. We didn’t expect that)

Off the coast of North West Greenland in a borrowed jacket and trusty sweatpants. Andreas saysI shouldn't wear these pants in public because they're too American. I wonder what gives them away? Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Off the coast of North West Greenland in a borrowed jacket and trusty sweatpants. Andreas says I shouldn’t wear these pants in public because they’re too American. I wonder what gives them away? Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Today I took a photo of everything we brought to wear and then a second photo of what we’ve actually needed from summer through winter.

Andreas, being a guy and having a job that doesn’t require a lot of dressing up, was better prepared to pack with less choices. He only owns two pairs of shoes and two pairs of pants to begin with.

Andreas' winter gear. A fleece jacket under a wind breaker with a hat. He says he's warm enough... Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ winter gear. A fleece jacket under a wind breaker with a hat. He says he’s warm enough… Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I on the other hand had more options to choose from. Even though I try to have only the essentials in my closet, my life required a few “costume” changes during the day. I used to begin my day as a teacher in a business casual costume, then come home and change into jeans and a t-shirt to go shopping or for a walk. If my private art students were painting or if I was going out with friends I would change again in the evening.

Layers and rainbows is how I roll. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Layers and rainbows is how I roll. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

In Germany I can work from home (sweatpants and a t-shirt) and when I leave the apartment, I trade the sweatpants for jeans. Still a costume change but an easy choice. I tried to only pack the minimal amount of clothing I would want physically and psychologically. I figured that if I really needed anything, I could go shopping. I was mostly afraid of boredom from wearing the same clothes every week. This is why I brought fourteen t-shirts and eight scarves, so I would have variety. Honestly, I’m so happy to be able to wear comfortable clothes everyday that I’m not bored at all by limited choices. My husband isn’t bored looking at me in the same clothes everyday because he’s not paying attention to those things.

All of the clothes that Andreas packed for a year abroad. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
All of the clothes that Andreas packed for a year abroad. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

So, what did we bring and what did we need? Andreas brought: shoes 2, sweaters 3, jackets 4, t-shirts 9, dress shirts 8, pants 2, shorts 4, biking rain gear 1, gloves 3, scarf 1, hats 3. What he actually needed or has worn: shoes 2, jackets 3, t-shirts 9, dress shirts 4, pants 2, biking rain gear 1, gloves 0, scarf 0 and hats 2. So, he was pretty right on. The only things he over packed were dress shirts, sweaters and jackets. He doesn’t feel the cold so much.

The clothes that Andreas has needed and worn this year minus 1 pair of pants, 1 t-shirt, a fleece jacket and a windbreaker. (Things that he wore to work today) Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The clothes that Andreas has needed and worn this year minus 1 pair of pants, 1 t-shirt, a fleece jacket, Birkenstocks and a windbreaker. (Things that he wore to work today) Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
All of the clothes that I thought I would need for one year in Germany. Photo by Dragonfly LeathrumAll of the clothes that I thought I would need for one year in Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
All of the clothes that I thought I would need for one year in Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I brought: shoes 3, jackets 4, t-shirts 14, pants 3 (1 jeans, 1 sweatpants, 1 leggings) shorts 2, skirts 4, biking rain gear 1, gloves 3, scarves 8, hats 4, bathing suit 1. What I’ve used: shoes 3, jackets 3, t-shirts 10, pants 3, shorts 1, skirts 1, biking rain gear 0, gloves 1, scarves 8, hats 2 and bathing suit 0. Pretty close, but I could have packed less and been happy. We also packed seven pairs of underwear and socks each. The socks are wearing out fast because we walk and bicycle instead of drive.

The clothes that I've actually needed and worn in eight months. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The clothes that I’ve actually needed and worn in eight months. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

So, how much do you need and which pieces are important? I’d say enough for a week and of course, everyone has different needs. When we travel around Europe, we bring a t-shirt, underwear and socks for each day, a pair of pants and a jacket. We’ve never wished that we had brought more.

When in doubt go rainbow. Easy matchy matchy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
When in doubt go rainbow. Easy matchy matchy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I wrote this blog as a reminder to us that we don’t need to pack so much and that we are just as happy with less. I hope that when we return home, we (we mostly meaning me) will continue to live with a smaller wardrobe and cut down on shopping. Also, a reminder to our traveling friends to relax about packing, and that it’s easier to travel with smaller lighter bags.