Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Highs and Lows 2016

April ended with my mom's visit and she flew back to Wisconsin the first week of May. A week later I flew to the East Coast of the US to visit my daughter, and I was pretty lazy after returning. Then a few days ago I was asked to come back to the Hermann-Hesse-Kolleg language school to start with a new group, and that begins today. I stopped in yesterday to meet the students, and at the moment there are just three people - one from the Ukraine, one from Tanzania, and one from Saudi Arabia. They seem very nice, and hopefully they are as eager to learn as my previous students!

The year is moving along quickly, and I'm glad the weather is getting nicer and warmer and the garden is perking up.

HIGHS

  • a pre-Mother's Day lunch in Esslingen with my three mums: my Schwiegermutter, my real mom, and my Gastmutter (from when I was an exchange student in Esslingen in 1986)! This was the first time we four were all together, and it was just the four of us. It was so lovely!
my three mums
  • spending time with my daughter

  • this red Azalea bush outside the house my daughter lives in
  • our visit to Sunnybank, the former home of one of my favorite writers and his collie, Lad

  • two days on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, the setting of another favorite childhood book, Misty of Chincoteague. Ponies, ponies, ponies!
some of the postcards I bought
  • dining out and eating delicous food at a Thai restaurant (a first for me) and an Italian restaurant, in Narberth and Bryn Mawr, PA, respectively.

  • having a toasted bagel with plain cream cheese at Panera for breakfast one morning. Yum!!

  • sharing a Philly Cheese steak sandwich with my daughter in...Philly, of course!
  • being able to chat with my son a few times on the phone because we were only one time zone apart

  • coming home to M after my 10-day absence in the States

  • another successful kitchen experiment: homemade buns and pulled pork (it cooked for 2 days!)

LOWS

  • flying internationally

  • having to quit watching a movie during the flight because the woman in front of me put her seat back and the screen was too close to my face for me to focus. Even my reading glasses didn't help.
It's always nice to report so few lows from the month. Life is indeed good!

And as an addendum in these final minutes of May, another high from today... During my lunch break I walked around a bit in Horb and bumped into Omran, Mohammed, Subhi, Mosab, Hadi, and several other of my Syrian acquaintances whose names I shamefully don't remember (I am so terrible with names!). Yesterday I drove past  Talal, waiting at a bus stop with his daughter. This evening I sat with Asaad, one of my former students, for three hours while we went over the story I'd written about his journey to Germany from Syria and made corrections and additions. Just seeing my Syrian and Eritrean friends brings a smile to my face, and I'm always happy to have time and opportunity for a chat.

I've lived in Horb for 3.5 years, and I have never before bumped into people in town whom I knew. I guess I only knew seven people until I started getting involved in the Freundeskreis-Asyl and the refugees. It's a nice feeling to have friends in town!


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pompton Lakes, NJ

After our time at Sunnybank, Carol, the curator of the Van Riper-Hopper House, led us back to the museum. She showed us through the rooms and pointed out the items of interest to fans of Albert Payson Terhune. She left us alone to explore the Terhune room, which is full of paintings, photos, trophies, ribbons, newspaper clippings and notices, and first edition books written by Terhune, and some by his mother, who was also a well-known writer in her day.

My daughter read the framed story about Wolf, Lad's son, who died saving a mongrel dog from being run over by a train, and when I said "Incredible story, isn't it?" she looked at me surprised. "You read this that fast?" (I always read more slowly than she does). "I know the story well," I said with a wink.

The highlight for "Laddicts" is probably Lad's round leather collar and a tuft of mahogany-and-white hair attached to an envelope labeled in Anice's handwriting: "Lad's hair". As I learned recently from a newsletter posted on the Sunnybank-Terhune Collies Facebook group, "Laddie's collar" was found wrapped in tissue inside a large trophy cup that the Terhune Sunnybank Memorial Fund acquired in 1973 along with 17 other trophies won by the Sunnybank collies.  This collection had been given by Anice Terhune to a friend and neighbor, who later gave it to a housekeeper who admired the collection and Terhune's stories. The housekeeper was told to hang on to the collection for a while, because it would someday be worth something. Indeed!

We were also able to see a few other treasures - an apholstered chair of Bert's and a pair of his trousers - he was 6 feet 2.5 inches tall, and the waistline came up to my chest! Carol also encouraged us to look through an album of Sunnybank and the Terhunes, and I absorbed every page. She showed us the Terhune books in their library, which anyone can read on-site in the museum or on the porch on a pleasant day.

We went away with an abridged version of a Terhune story, condensed by Carol herself and illustrated so as to be a coloring book. What a lovely treat!

Our next stop was the Dutch Reformed Church in Pompton Lakes, NJ. I forgot to take a picture of the church itself because my interest was in the cemetery. I had seen plenty of photos of the Terhune plots and headstones, but I wanted to see them for myself.

The cemetery is not large, and so the family plot was not difficult to find.


Terhune's parents
Lorraine, Bert's first wife (left)
Alice, one of Terhune's sisters



















Bert and Lorraine's daughter, also called Lorraine, rests here, too, next to her mother, who died a few days after giving birth, at the age of 23.

But Bert and Anice are not in the family plot. Their resting place is just a short walk away and I recognized it from a distance.


"I have fought a good fight."



"I have kept the faith."
















My daughter finds it a bit odd that I "enjoy" going to graveyards to see headstones and burial places of people important to me. I can't necessarily explain why, but I think it is a ritual of closure. In the U.S. the experience is perhaps less inspiring than in Germany, where the cemeteries and gravesites are stunningly beautiful (and much older, of course). Still, of course I wanted to see Albert's & Anice's graves.

By now the whole family has passed on, as far as I know. Only the descendants of the collies live on, mainly traced back to CH Sunnybank Thane.

I have one last thing to say about this writer, Albert Payson Terhune. His biographer mentioned, and Terhune even said himself, that he was not a great writer. His stories were popular, and he wrote a great many of them; but I read several times that he does not rank among the great American writers. Ok, fair enough - he was no Hemingway or Thoreau. But by reading his stories I expanded my vocabulary in ways that young readers today cannot (by reading popular modern stories and novels). Terhune also had a beautiful sense of language and - again, unlike many writing today - knew his language well and didn't make grammatical mistakes. He wrote correctly - not as people speak (you won't find "Me and my friend..." or "Lad liked to lay on the veranda" in his stories! - and that made a great impression on me. So while he may not have earned a place in an American Literature course curriculum, I will always be one to say that he was well beyond the league of many of today's popular writers in style and language mastery.

Thus endeth my literary pilgrimage to Sunnybank and the world of Albert Payson Terhune. It was a special trip, and one I needed to make.

earliest known photo of Sunnybank House - ca. 1898
source


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lad of Sunnybank

When I was about eight years old, I received in my Christmas stocking a book called Lad of Sunnybank with a beautiful mahogany-and-white collie on the cover. Yes, I was a child who loved receiving books for Christmas and birthdays - as long as they were about dogs or horses. I had never heard of Lad before, but from that day on I was a dedicated follower and fan of Lad and his Master, the writer Albert Payson Terhune.

Sunnybank Lad, ca. 1917
source - Terhune Sunnybank Memorial
I read and re-read the Lad books and then found in our library Irving Litvag's biography of Terhune, his wife Anice, his family estate, Sunnybank (called simply "The Place" in his stories), and his dogs. I read about his other collies and collected several of his books about them to read later, but for me there was only Lad. I begged my parents for a collie with "absurdly tiny white forepaws" who would save his human deities from all sorts of perils, and they eventually caved and got me a Sheltie. He was a gorgeous dog, but when presented with the opportunity to emulate Lad and thwart a burglar who broke into our home one night, he slept through the crime. The reprobate made off unassailed with my mother's purse and a VCR while our non-Lad dozed contentedly on the foot of my bed.

Some people read a book set in Paris and long to travel there. Some people watch a movie set in Tuscany and dream of moving there. For me it was Sunnybank, on the shore of Pompton Lake in Wayne, New Jersey. I was saddened when I learned the house had been torn down in 1969, but relieved to learn there were dedicated people who had been working to restore what was left of the grounds and the dogs' graves. The Place is now a park maintained by the Wayne Township Department of Parks and Recreation and visited frequently by Terhune devotees.

1930s?
source - Terhune Sunnybank Memorial
When I started making plans to visit my daughter in Philadelphia this spring, one of the first things I did was check the distance from her home to Sunnybank. Definitely do-able. She picked me up on a Friday at the Newark airport and we headed toward Sunnybank. After an overnight at a lovely AirBnB accommodation hosted by a young German woman in Montclair, NJ, we drove to the Van Riper-Hopper House in Wayne. I had made contact with Carol, the curator, just two days earlier and when we arrived she closed the museum and led us to The Place. It was starting to rain, but I begged Mother Nature to hold off just for an hour.

I warned my daughter to brace herself for weird emotion - at which she rolled her eyes - as we turned into the drive. The parking lot is located where once the wisteria-covered house stood, on a rise looking down toward the "fire-blue lake." Carol handed me an umbrella and wished us a pleasant visit.

It was not a pretty day for pictures.

I didn't know where to start, but I knew I wanted to end at Lad's grave and therefore didn't look for it. We strolled down to the lakeshore and the gazebo so I could get a good look at where the house had been and the lake Lad swam in to cool off on warm summer evenings. From there we went around to the root cellar and the replica puppy yard, and then to Champion Rock where many of the best-known dogs are buried - Lady (Lad's mate), Wolf (his only surviving son), Bobby, Treve, and Anice's fluffy Persian cat, Tippy.


This memorial shows a diagram of Champion Rock, which lies just in front of it,
and where the collies (and cat) are buried.


We passed the lily pond and statue of Jack, the bullfrog that resided at Sunnybank for something like 20 years before he was killed by one of the careless drivers that Terhune despised.



To be honest I was a little disappointed in myself by this point. I was snapping pictures all over to preserve these views for later and was soaking in the experience, but I expected more of myself. I should have just sat down somewhere and let the images in my mind and memory play around. Was my camera in the way? I need photos for me - but maybe this one time I should have left my camera in the car. I didn't want to see what was there and visible through the lens. I wanted to see the house, the winter kennel, Bert himself typing away on his tiny typewriter, and most of all I wanted to see a dozen collies romping around the grounds. And  Lad, even though he didn't like strangers and would have been aloof if not downright annoyed at my presence.

Bert with Sandy, ca. 1926
source - Terhune Sunnybank Memorial
Suddenly we were at Lad's grave, in a little shaded nook just off the edge of the driveway. I brushed away some wind blown leaves from the headstone, remembering that Lad was "absurdly vain," and sat on the rock next to the grand collie's grave.

My husband would have echoed Bert's words as reported by Litvag: "Why folk should make pilgrimages to the grave of a dead dog is beyond my understanding. [But come they do: and some bring roses...this for an animal they never saw in life.]" But I agree with Litvag's thoughts as he stood there in this same spot 40-some years ago: "Yes, Terhune, you did know why. You understood, you old fake. You know."


Lad had died in 1918, but he was alive for me in the 1970s when I first read his stories. Only a few photos of him remain, and in them he's not even the most physically beautiful collie I've ever seen. But he's Lad and I cherish every image. I have long imagined heaven like the Sunnybank in my mind - a majestic old house on a hill surrounded by forest and overlooking a lake. And with collies everywhere.

Terhune with Rex, Lad and a young Wolf (far right)
source - Terhune Sunnybank Memorial

Lad and Bruce sunning themselves on the veranda
source - Terhune Sunnybank Memorial
The Master with Lad, Bruce, and Wolf
source - Terhune Sunnybank Memorial
A bench dedicated to Terhune's biographer, Irving Litvag, is a little way off from Lad's grave under some trees, and up the hill a bit are the graves of Bruce ("The dog without a fault") and Jean, just below the Evening Lookout. We sat there for a few minutes, too, taking in the view. We made one more circle down along the lake, past the rose walk, the former location of Terhune's mother's Garden from Everywhere, the gazebo again, and back up to the parking lot.

at the Evening Lookout
Carol was waiting patiently for us, doing museum work from her car, and after a farewell glance and a walk up to the entrance so I could take a picture of the winding drive I had traveled down so often in my child's mind, she led us back to the museum for some time in the Terhune room.



To my daughter's relief, I did not get weepy during our visit. But back home while re-reading bits of the biography and several Lad stories - especially Terhune's description(s) of finding the lifeless Lad on the back veranda of the house in September, 1918 - I choked up. I'd admit that I had to dry my eyes as well, but my daughter will read this... ;-)

I am so glad I was able to visit Sunnybank. Now when I look at the old photos, and even the current photos other visitors to The Place post on the Sunnybank - Terhune Collies Facebook group, they mean so much more. And I am eternally grateful to the good folks who have worked so hard to keep Sunnybank alive.

Thank you also to Krissy M. for permission to use here the old photos from the Terhune Sunnybank Memorial shared on the FB group, to Carol for your personal attention that day, and to Judy for getting me in contact with Carol and answering my questions. Although it's of little interest to my regular readers who come here to read about the differences between life in Wisconsin and in southern Germany, I will write another post about the rest of our day - the visit to the museum and to the cemetery in Pompton Lakes.

But for now, farewell from Sunnybank.

The Master and the Mistress (Bert and Anice Terhune)
with Bruce, Bobby, and Wolf, and Tippy on Anice's lap
ca. 1919

To my readers who are readers: Has a book, an author, or a character ever made you want to travel somewhere just to see where they lived?


Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Literary Pilgrimage

Earlier this month I flew to the East Coast of the U.S. where my daughter now lives to spend some days with her. She lives in Philadelphia, and when I booked my flights we both started planning two trips to places connected with favorite books/writers of ours when we were children.

For me the most important place was Sunnybank, the former estate (now a park) of my favorite writer from my childhood, Albert Payson Terhune. He wrote many, many stories and is best known for the stories about his collies, mainly Lad. I got to know him and Lad long after their deaths, when Santa my parents put a book in my Christmas stocking called Lad of Sunnybank. I still have it, and I picked up several others on visits to used book stores over the years. I read all three Lad books when I was a child, followed by the brilliant biography of Terhune written by Irving Litvag. Ever since then there has been no other dog breed for me except rough collies.

Some kids have superheroes and some kids have real-life heroes. I had Lad. Lassie was a silly TV character to me (though of course I watched the old episodes because she he was a collie), and I didn't read that book until much later. If time travel is ever discovered, the place I'd like to go to is Sunnybank in the early 1900s (near Pompton Lakes, New Jersey) to meet Bert Terhune and Lad and see that beautiful house, which was torn down in 1969 despite a passionate effort by Terhune fans to save it.

looking from about where the house stood down to the gazebo
and Pompton Lake
Lad's grave, with the bench dedicated to biographer Irving Litvag beyond
Lad's headstone (1902 - 1918)


Our next trip, after a day in the Philly area and a visit to Valley Forge, was to Chincoteague Island, Virginia. My daughter and I have both enjoyed Marguerite Henry's horse books since we were children, and I even had lunch with her once in Milwaukee. She's best known for her children's book, Misty of Chincoteague, and the islanders have capitalized (in a good way!) on that book's fame among horse lovers. We toured the island on our own and found various attractions that draw in tourists during the high season, which May is not (good for us!).

I'm standing next to the actual (stuffed) Misty.
Questionable decision here - taxidermying a horse...

Misty's hoofprint and signature (written by Marguerite Henry)
in front of the Chincoteague theater

my daughter with the Misty statue on Main Street

We also booked a "guaranteed pony-sighting tour" with island native Captain Dan, and we both recommend that (or one of the many other boat tours, though we were impressed with Dan and his knowledge of the ponies and their behavior). While I would have loved to sit quietly among or near any of the groups of ponies for hours photographing them, this was at least a delicious taste of pony life. We saw four or five bands of ponies, two of them close enough to get some decent photos, and two lone stallions.

Chincoteague ponies, who actually live on the neighboring island of Assateague
I will probably write in more detail about these two trips in the days to come while I fight off jet lag, but I wanted to at least give a brief indication of where I've been in the last ten days.

Bis bald!

my shelf of Terhune and Henry books

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Truth I See

During the last few weeks I have come across various memos, notes, articles, and comments written mainly by Americans living in America about what is going on in Germany and Europe as a whole in connection with refugees and Muslims.

A month or so ago there was an article on an American online news source about "Germany" offering "women-only" cars on trains due to the sexual assault and harassment incidents in Köln on New Year's Eve. I'll get at the truth about that in a minute, but the most shocking part of that article was the comments section. The ignorance, enmity, and hostility the readers and commenters displayed exemplified the worst of humanity. I won't provide a link to the article because I do not want to make it easy for anyone to access those hateful and embarrassing comments. There were comments on there that would have been deleted in Germany because of Volksverhetzung (hate speech), and in fact the law probably would have gone after some of those writers. Germany's Grundgesetz allows for free speech, but there are reasonable lines that may not be crossed.

In this post I would like to respond to what I have seen and heard from some of my Landsleute (most or all of whom have not been here within the last 12 months though they claim to know more than they do) about what's going on in Germany.

source

Germany is now offering "women-only" train cars so they can feel safe from refugee/Muslim men while traveling by train.

One private train company in eastern Germany decided to start offering a car only for women on one stretch of track between the cities of Leipzig and Chemnitz. The German articles about this decision mentioned nothing about refugees or the events of New Year's Eve in Köln; that was the American news source's twist on the story. From there the commenters screamed about Germany "segregating" women on trains.

For many years we have had "women only" parking spaces in public parking garages, which are nearest to the exits. Is this segregation? Look up the word, people. Women are not forced to use these parking spaces or the "women only" car. They are available for women who choose to use them. In my world, if I choose to use something marked "for women only," I am not being segregated.

German women are afraid to leave their homes because groups of refugee men are attacking them at parks and pools.

I cannot speak for all German women, but I do not know of any who are afraid to leave their homes. Women of all ages living in Germany are still going regularly to grocery stores, train stations, swimming pools and shopping malls, walk their dogs, go to work, ride public transportation, and go about their daily business. The extremist right-wing AfD party wants women and children to be very afraid of foreigners, but so far I have not met any women who say they stay inside their homes out of fear.

A year from now all German women will be wearing burkas.

Again, this is what the AfD party wants us to believe, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I do not believe that in a year or ever, all women in Germany will be required to wear burkas, hijabs, shaylas, or khimars. I realized I've just lost everyone who thinks that all head coverings are burkas, but tough. This idea is just sensationalism, and I feel sorry for those who believe such nonsense (that all women living in Germany will be forced to cover themselves if they do not wish to do so).

German girls are told to dress more modestly at public pools so they don't get attacked.

I haven't been to a public pool since last summer, but I would guess there has been no change in what German girls wear while swimming - that is, mainly, string bikinis. I have heard white men well over the age of 40 make lude comments about scantily clad teenage girls and have read about girls being sexually harassed and/or assaulted by any number of different types of males - classmates, older men, foreigners, non-foreigners, strangers, acquaintances, family members... At a wedding not long ago I saw the photographer repeatedly eye up the backsides of teenage girls wearing very short skirts. People seem to think it's much worse for a refugee to harass a girl or woman than for "one of our own" to do it - at any rate people react with more outrage when they hear about a refugee or foreigner harassing or assaulting someone even though harassment and sexual assault happens every day (in fact, at least in America, every 107 seconds). It's wrong no matter who's doing it.

Personally I don't think there is anything wrong with encouraging girls to dress and act modestly. I realize I'm old-fashioned beyond my years, so I'll just leave it at that.

There has been an increase in sexual assaults in Germany since the refugees arrived.

Has there? Which refugees are you speaking of, since Germany has been accepting refugees for many, many years? If you mean the refugees who applied for asylum in 2015, sexual assault statistics don't appear that fast, and so the statement you presented as fact is baseless and unverifiable. The most recent statistics I have found are from 2013.

The refugees aren't assimilating to the German rules and culture. Germany is changing to assimilate to the refugees.

I prefer the term and concept of integrating rather than assimilating, so I'll use that. 100% of the refugees I have met from Syria, Eritrea, and Iraq have been working on learning German (with varied degrees of determination) and doing what they can to integrate and adapt to life in Germany. I'm not talking large numbers here (50 or so, with whom I am acquainted), but I'm hoping that number will grow. How many refugees have you met in Germany who are not integrating?

In big cities, you hardly hear any German any more.

I first heard this statement about three years ago, and the person who said it was not talking about refugees. I've been to Munich, Stuttgart, Berlin, and Vienna, Austria since then. I hear plenty of German being spoken, and many other languages as well - because these are Weltstädte (World Cities). Germany is multicultural, in part because it's basically the center of Europe. I hear American English, British English, Russian, Italian, Turkish, Arabic, French, Japanese, Dutch... and I don't understand what is wrong with that. The "speek [sic] English or get out of are [sic] country" mentality of many Americans vexes me. How about embracing languages, learning about different cultures and religions, and celebrating humanity?

How do you know these refugees Germany has let in are not terrorists?

I guess in the same way I know you're not a pedophile, a rapist, or a white supremacist. In truth I don't know, but that's not going to be my first assumption about you.

The once-great German nation has been ruined by Angela Merkel.

What's with this obsession with "great", "once-great", and "great again"? Define great. Is it when white Christians are ruling and dominating? Is it when foreigners, immigrants, and non-citizens are being run out or at least persecuted? Is it when we build walls to keep people in or out? I don't know of any Germans who go around proclaiming what a great country Germany is, was, or has been. Germany is Germany. It has a rich and lengthy history, beautiful traditions, a fabulous public transportation system that allows everyone to get anywhere they need to go without having to use a car, an impressive national football/soccer team, a confusing collection of dialects, and citizens and guests of all walks of life and backgrounds. 

I love living in Germany, but I don't call it a great country. I am also one of apparently few Americans who don't call America great either. America is America, faults and all. 

There are plenty of Germans who don't like Merkel's policies, but Germany has not been ruined by her or anyone else.


Perhaps my main message here is that you should not be too quick to believe what you hear or read (including here on my blog). And it's best to be even slower at repeating something you heard or read to someone else without first verifying its truth.

I write based on my experiences and what I observe. I hear and read about neo-nazi groups and the hateful things they say and do, but I have not witnessed any of that myself. I have met good German people who are getting involved and helping the refugees in our area, welcoming newcomers, and not living in fear.

This is the Germany I know.



Thursday, May 5, 2016

25 Get to Know Me Questions

Picking up the inspiration from Confuzzledom, who got the idea from another blogger, I decided to do a Question-and-Answer post based on the one she did, though I changed some of the questions. I do always enjoy reading these types of posts by and about other bloggers, so it's only fair that I reveal a few more details about myself as well. It feels rather narcissistic when I do this, but I don't consider it so when others do it. Hm.


So here we go. (I'm keeping the British spelling from Bevchen's list of questions because I feel like it.)

1. What is your middle name?   Ann. As Bevchen from Confuzzledom said, it's a very middle-namey kind of name. It's my daughter's, as well.

2. What was your favourite subject at school?  English, though I also really liked German class.

3. What is your favourite drink?  Mineral water (with gas) during the day, white wine in the evening.

4. What is your favourite song right now?  "Reflections of Earth" - all 9 minutes 32 seconds of it. This is the song from the closing show of EPCOT at Disney World. I tend to prefer inspirational music without lyrics.

5. What is your favourite food?  What's with all the "favourite" questions?!?  I don't have a favourite food. But there are three things I won't eat - beans, olives, and coconut.

6. What is the last thing you bought (besides groceries)?  Potted herbs (Zitronenthymian and Rosemary) as a gift for my Syrian students who invited my mom and me for dinner, and another Orchid for our living room.

7. Favourite book of all time?  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And the Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran. And 35 others.

8. Favourite colour?  Purple - all shades. Bay for favourite horse colour, and sable for Collies.

Neither my focus nor the rider's leg position is perfect,
but this beautiful horse is bay.
old scanned photo of my sable-and-white Collie, Tess
9. Do you have any pets?  No. I grew up with a Sheltie, and if I outlive my husband, I'll probably have a Collie again at some point. But life without pets is really nice and free.


10. Where did your ancestors come from?  Finland, Germany, and England. I'm a direct descendant of John & Priscilla Alden, who went to the US on the Mayflower. See Longfellow's poem "The Courtship of Miles Standish" or this link.

11. Favourite holiday?  To Americans, "holidays" are days off from work rather than trips, which we call vacations. So my favourite holiday is Easter. Cheerful colours, Spring, cute brown bunnies with long floppy ears...

12. Are you married?  Yes.

13. Have you ever been out of the country? If so, how many times?  I've been out of my passport country 25 times, and out of Germany nine times since moving here.

14. Do you speak any other language?  Assuming English is on the other side of "other", I speak German and a handful of sentences and words in Swahili.

15. How many siblings do you have?  I have one brother.

16. What is your favourite shop? I don't have one. I do not enjoy shopping except in bookstores.

17. Favourite restaurant?  Straub's Krone in Bildechingen.

Straub's Krone
the owner and Chefkoch at Straub's Krone

18. When was the last time you cried? I got choked up watching the film Honig im Kopf for the second time in February, but I haven't really cried (as in sobbing) in many years. The last time I couldn't speak because of emotion was at my German host dad's funeral. My own sadness doesn't affect me much, but other people's sadness breaks my heart.

19. Favourite blog?  I am really not going to play favourites on this one.

20. Favourite films?  Nirgendwo in Afrika, Dances with Wolves, Robin Hood (with Kevin Costner), the Holiday, and any number of other films depending on my mood.

21. Are there any places you would never want to travel to?  Yes - Mexico, India, and China. Include the U.S. if Trump gets elected.

22. PC or Mac?  PC. We don't have any Apple products.

23. What phone do you have?  Let me check...As far as I can tell, it's a black Motorola smart phone.

24. How tall are you? I'm 5 feet, 4 inches, or 163cm tall.

25. What's one thing that bothers you about you?  There are several, but one thing that drives me nuts is that my face gets shockingly red really easily - sometimes for no reason at all. I wish I could control that.


Ok, blogger friends, who's next?!?