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.

Married Backwards

Our first morning back in America and we're awake at 4:00 am making pancakes. So happy to be home. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our first morning back in America and we’re awake at 4:00 am making pancakes. So happy to be home. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas and I chose to get married halfway through our year-long honeymoon/sabbatical in Germany. Two weeks ago, we flew home to America to see friends, to go through a huge pile of mail, and to reinforce our dislike of suburban car culture. Oh, and we got married too.

Andreas with his wedding present in front of my Art Car. Driving after 5 months was fun, but I quickly became tired of traffic and parking lots. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas with his wedding present in front of my Art Car. Driving after 5 months was fun, but I quickly became tired of traffic and parking lots. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Saturday night came the wedding reception. We had a potluck party at our home with friends and family. It was great to catch up with everyone. We did not expect to be able to see our friends until well into next year, so this was truly fun and special.

We almost forgot the obligatory cutting the cake photo. Lucky for us Caryn baked a cake.
We almost forgot the obligatory cutting the cake photo. Lucky for us Caryn baked a cake.
My wonderful work friends. Love these women! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
My wonderful work friends. Love these women! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
It's not a wedding without flowers. How great to have flowers in the house in the wintertime. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
It’s not a wedding without flowers. How great to have flowers in the house in the wintertime. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
This photo is special to me because it shows how wonderful and caring my friends are. Other friends helped the party run smoothly as well. We're lucky to have such great friends.
This photo is special to me because it shows how wonderful and caring my friends are. Other friends helped the party run smoothly as well. We’re lucky to have such great friends.

Sunday afternoon my Uncle George officiated our wedding. This was a small affair with eleven people in our living room in front of the fire.

Andreas, Uncle George and Dragonfly. Photo by Glenn Davies Photography
Andreas, Uncle George and Dragonfly. Photo by Glenn Davies Photography

We toasted to our commitment to love and cherish with fancy champagne gifted from friends. This was not planned, because we received the champagne the night before. Half our guest had toasts prepared and delivered them while we stood in a circle with our glasses. I love this memory and recommend small weddings. We then moved on to a local restaurant. With so few people we conversed easily and fully enjoyed the experience.

Lots of kisses for the bride. Left to right: Sherri,Matron of Honor, us and Uncle George and Christina, Best Woman. Photo by Glenn Davies Photography
Lots of kisses for the bride. Left to right: Sherri, Matron of Honor, us and Uncle George and Christina, Best Woman. Photo by Glenn Davies Photography
Michael, Sherri, Dragonfly, Andreas, Christina and George. Photo by Glenn Davies Photography
Michael, Sherri, Dragonfly, Andreas, Christina and George. Photo by Glenn Davies Photography

Next year, our jeweler friend Caryn Hetherston will deliver the rings she is handcrafting to Germany when she visits and, perhaps, Andreas will propose. Ha ha

This was waiting for Andreas when he returned to work at AWI in Bremerhaven. He works with some awesome people. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
This was waiting for Andreas when he returned to work at AWI in Bremerhaven. He works with some awesome people. Photo by Andreas Muenchow