2020 March Winds Bring More Than April Showers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andreas works from home without his normal distractions as well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have Bingo?
Do you have Bingo?

Feeling Fünfzig in February. (50)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Happy New Year/ Frohes neues Jahr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beach Days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, back to work.

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!

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.