Posted in Europe, Travel

In the nick of time

Germany here I come. The ticket is purchased and a rental is reserved. I leave on the 17th of September at the wee hours from Sacramento to Charlotte, and then Charlotte to Frankfurt. I arrive the next day at 7AM and the journey from getting up, driving to the airport over a mountain pass etc. will elapse 22 hours with the whole day in Germany ahead of me. I, hopefully will find some sleep during my journey of getting to Germany, otherwise I will be in serious trouble. Not to mention that it takes another 3 hour drive after getting there just to get to my Mom’s house. It almost seems unreal to have gotten the ticket for only $499. The universe was definitely aligned, sending me a sign that it was time to go and I’m grateful that I didn’t miss the opportunity. In a short five days later after the purchase was made, the tickets jumped all the way back up to $1400 round-trip. It would have been out of the question to go, had I not already made the purchase. I have almost 2 months until I leave, and the other day, on my way to work I thought that I need to start packing soon. I’ve never been one to pack lightly and it becomes a stressful thing as I can’t decide what to leave behind. I pack too much and I will try hard to turn over a new leaf this time. Mainly because of the RA and simply not wanting to put that much stress on my joints. And perhaps a little doubt being able to tackle it.

The other day, I received a little surprise package from my cousin in Germany for my birthday. In the package I found two books from Adam Fletcher a person from England, who took a job in Germany and lived there for several years. The books are split into sections of half English and half German and are called how to be German and how to become German. It’s a funny take on the very unusual corky customs we have in Germany and it will be a lot of fun to re-introduce myself with some of those that I might have forgotten in all the years living here. I’m thinking of sharing some of those customs with you and if someone could appreciate a good laugh at our quirky customs, it would be my friend linda at mainepaperpusher.wordpress.com.

In the package I found a tiny little red envelope from my little niece Emily. She sent me a little starting fund for when I move back to Germany. She must have thought that I could use some money starting out in a new country and in all honesty, who wouldn’t. What a smart little sweetheart. Opening the little red envelope, I found a tiny hand written note from her and one Euro of which I’m sure she must have taken from her allowance as her personal birthday gift to me. How sweet and I hope that many years from now I can show her the little note and the Euro she sent to me of which I will never be able to spend.

Emily (on the left) with her sister Leni. 💙 I will see you soon girls. 

Posted in Inspiration, Travel

Mama, I’m coming home 

My Mom’s birthday was on the 19th of July and with a nine hour time difference to Germany it’s not always easy to plan a call. I stayed up the night of the 18th into the 19th and it was already passed midnight as I attempted my first call to reach her. Call after call, all I received was a busy signal and for a moment I contemplated if she might had taken the phone of the hook so she could sleep in. Mom sleeps later these days and like me tinkers around late at night. Close to 1 AM, I was ready to give up but told myself to try one more time. I’m glad I did, because low and behold there was actually a ring tone this time and the line wasn’t busy. Shortly afterwards she answered and right away I felt that she was in good spirits. She was bubbly, laughed and didn’t stop talking. I listened as she seemingly had much to say and informed me proudly that she arranged a get together with some of her cousins and her sister at Colmberg Castle. It’s an old fortress near my home that is privately owned and has been turned into a hotel and guesthouse (restaurant). I spent a night there last year and it is a regular place of interest when I’m home. She was beyond excited of going and my heart was truly happy for her. I wanted something memorable for her special day and she managed to arrange it all on her own. She wouldn’t be sitting in the house all alone today and I was relieved and happy for her. My mind and my heart was at peace, knowing that she was taken care of. But there was also a lesson, and the awareness that my feelings are always in turmoil when it comes to the issue of my mom and the things that remain unresolved about the future.

A few weeks ago my girlfriend in Germany suggested to me to come home and assess the situation. My mom shouldn’t be alone anymore and a transition for me to Germany is time consuming and very complicated. It’s tough to work full time while trying to dissolve the majority of my adult life, including a household. Talking to Angie, I decided then and there that it was wise to follow her advice and try to come home. I cleared all the details for time off, timeframes and responsibilities for taking a partial unpaid leave and all that was left was to cross my fingers tight to find a somewhat reasonable flight with good connections, minimum time left wasted and one that would be financially affordable. A lot of boxes to be checked off and perhaps another challenge.

Mom continued to chatter away as I was trying to tell her that she would have to wait for her birthday present a little longer this year, and that I was going to hand deliver it. She never let me finish in her excitement and after the third attempt, I finally I told her that she had to listen up while I slightly raised my voice. She still talked while I, now for the fourth time, try to tell her that I’m coming home to visit. Somewhere along the line she must have heard something, and all of a sudden even though granted for only a brief second there was silence. Silence that was followed with the word “When?”. I laughed and so did she once I made mention that she finally, finally must have heard me. Geez what’s a girl to do, to finally be heard haha. Since I didn’t have the ticket yet or the exact date, she continued talking, business as usual, no word about my upcoming visit. Maybe I ran her over in surprise, maybe it’s just a typical response and feelings are mostly hidden and seldom shared from my mom’s side. It will take a few days of adjusting again once I’m home to cox her out, as everything about me is always about feelings and not holding anything back.

A short while later mom told me that she had to go get ready as the nurse would show up soon to tend to her feet. Mom receives daily care through house visits, plus she had a date with a castle in the afternoon. For today this was her priority and I was more than ok with it. We wished each other a happy birthday and I will talk to her next week when my own medical procedure will keep me housebound and away from the trail.

Throughout the day, thoughts from our conversation found their way back into my mind and I could feel a smile dancing across my face. It would be a great birthday celebration for both of us and for that time, however long it might have lastet, a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I celebrated this special woman that gave birth to me and had such a tough life. Even across the miles and being far, far away, I felt closer to her then I have for many years and all I wanted was to be there and share that beautiful day with her. Any day and perhaps every day. Soon, hopefully I will. Later that day, a $499 round trip ticket found it’s way into my life, or I should say into the life of my best friend and the best planner and researcher there is. Unheard of and I don’t even remember ever flying that cheap. Perhaps once, 20 some years ago, and to top it off, it’s a great flight. Sacramento to Charlotte, Charlotte to Frankfurt Germany without long layovers and extra baggage fees. $499 all inclusive and almost too good to be true. The universe definitely aligned itself to make this possible and all there is left to say now, is….
Happy birthday…Mama, I’m coming home 💙

 

 

This song has accompanied me on every trip to Germany. It remains tradition, but I am happy that the meaning of the lyrics have somewhat changed for me and while some things still ring true, my relationship with my Mom is closer than it has ever been.

Posted in Photography, Travel

Blow-hole 

While visiting Maui in the beginning of 2015, we ventured out to visit a blowhole. Imagine a rugged coastline, who is getting pounded by embracing powerful waves rolling in from the ocean. Many rocks are volcanic and the oceans power is not to be underestimated. A short hike downhill to some rocky outcrops, led us to the blowhole. Inch by inch, we ventured closer, watching and observing the sequence of the waves, it’s power, all while never compromising safety. 

The blowhole is a hole, an opening in the rock like a round circle. When the waves crash ashore water is pushed up and through the hole as if it came from a volcanic geyser. Shooting way up into the air it’s a sight to behold. Little pools form everywhere from the violent water force. Pools filled with life thrown up from the ocean such as crabs and other crustaceans. One by one, people go out, near the blowhole awaiting the stream of water while getting showered by the falling droplets. I was lucky to get a great picture that shows the droplets falling as if freezing the moment in time. It is a bit nerve wrecking as the ocean is unpredictable and waves can crash over the rock wall itself. Stay aware and be careful, don’t under estimate and don’t feel invincible. Everything can change in a single moment, good and bad.

Posted in Europe, Travel

Day dreaming 

Today should be my Friday, but with a corporate visit on Tuesday, I’m working two additional days this week which will make it a seven day stretch. I’m tired and have limited time to catch up on everybodys blog, but you know I will. Even so, a girl can dream though and today my mind goes back to my summer vacation of 2015 and sitting on this bench in St. Magdalena, Italy while admiring the mighty Dolomites. 

My heart is strewn all over the world and a part of it definitely lives in Italy. 

Posted in Culture, Europe, Travel

Bubble-Magic

Today, I’m sharing another slice from my home and this picture was taken in Würzburg, Germany. Just a short drive from my home along the hillsides of wine country and the banks of the Main River filled with it’s barges, it has always been a neat place to visit for me. I love the combination of strolling through the old medieval town center with it’s ancient architecture, the heart of the city that is infused with modern shopping and a thriving metropolis. The big “Marktplatz” (town center) is filled with vendors during the summer months, offering unique trinkets, crafts and too many fresh goods to mention. You might even find yourself buying a bottle of wine from the local surroundings or honey. But whatever it might be, once again it boils down to the whole experience and the ambience of being surrended by culture and “Gemütlichkeit” which stands for a relaxed get together. 

On this day we also found a few young artists sharing their bubble – magic with their bypasser’s and blowing huge bubbles into the air. Their playful attitudes were captivating to me while I stood and watched in wonder. Some others stopped and entertained the play for awhile, while yet others rushed by without giving it a further look. I noticed a similarity in those who stopped and everybody seemed to smile while being whisked away into the bubbly magic. Time stood still and there was a certain carefree nature to those special moments. A feeling surely anyone would have enjoyed, would they have been able to brake away from the claws of hectic to enjoy the magic that is always all around us. 

Posted in Photography, Travel

The little chapel 

While exploring a few pictures from my vacation in Maui, this one stood out and I remember it as if I was just there. We traveled another narrow road, this time going into the opposite direction from Hana, as it was winding it’s way along the coastline. Passing rocky volcanic outcrops and dream island beaches, every turn brought new beauty to our eyes. Visiting a blowhole was on our agenda for the day as we took our time taking in beautiful, never before seen sights. 

Coming around another lucious forested bend, a tiny chapel caught our attention. Nestled into a setting beautiful and serene, it laid amidst the green grass framed by flowers and a vibrant hillside. Overlooking the ocean and sitting above a black sand beach, we watched the waves crash ashore in a never ending repeat. It was a sunny day with the bluest of skies and a few clouds for added drama. Life in paradise was perfect. 

I wondered how many visitors the quaint little chapel saw each week and what services were performed here. For sure it would be limited and only house a few people in a very private setting. It really didn’t matter as I allowed my thoughts to paint their own vision. The picture my eyes saw, the location of the chapel, the unique and small size was perfect in every way, leaving me wishing to attend a gathering while giving thanks to a new day, the friendly people encountered and the beautiful landscape waiting to be explored and gazed upon once more.

Posted in Photography, Travel

Beach Day

Maui was beautiful during my visit in February of 2015. I had just left the “Ugly Beauty Store” behind me and I was on the road of finding my own truths while healing and putting some bad experiences far behind me. Maui was a dream and just what the doctor ordered. My mind was distracted by so much to see, even if it was only temporary, I had piece of mind and it was all that mattered. 

The ocean was beautiful, from the colors of the water to it’s sea turtles emerging and resting at the beach, to the countless seashells that washed ashore and the whales in the distance swimming by, emerging every once in a while to take a deep breath and blowing water way up into the sky from their blowholes. 

The vegetation was a luscious jungle, green and full of life that we often enjoyed observing from our enclosed and furnished porch. It felt as if we were in the Amazon, backed up to the jungle with all of it’s mysterious creatures, tropical blooms and stunning beauty. 

The roads were narrow and we drove the famous highway to Hana that is only 52 miles long but roughly takes about 2.5 hours to drive. The highway passes over 59 bridges, 46 of them being one laned. The stretch includes 620 curves and you can imagine the adventure one finds themselves on when attempting to drive this narrow highway, locals zip through as if it was no big deal. I imagine them dealing with their own frustration when it comes to driving this heavily traveled tourist marvel. 

Maui stays on my mind from the constant sound of a rooster crowing outside my bedroom window each morning. I was surprised to hear it the first time and it came unexpected. I live in an area that is not zoned for farm animals and immediately it made me think of Hawaii. Roosters roam freely there, walk the streets and wake you up in the middle of the night or before the sun begins to rise. It was funny at first and it was definitely a “What the heck” kind of moment as we heard it the first time, but laughter turned into annoyance after a few days, ha. I’m not sure I would want to deal with it all the time, but in a way I already do with my local rooster. At least this one sleeps at night and doesn’t start to crow until 8AM. A blessing in disguise and the silver lining after all.

But today I’m leaving the rooster and the traffic behind and remember this beautiful day at the beach while dreaming of relaxing in the warm Maui sun. 

Posted in Inspiration, Photography, Travel

City by the bay


San Francisco – Cultural melting pod 

This picture was taken on one of those rare occasions when the Golden Gate wasn’t shrouded into a foggy cloud cover. I got lucky and snapped away. Even the seagulls came out but the waters remained choppy. 

Sometimes we get a mixture of things and can’t have it all, but that is only if we can’t appreciate the gifts we already have. It doesn’t always have to be perfect and that itself is perfectly perfect. 

Posted in Photography, Travel

Mule ride through Bryce Canyon

This picture was taken during my birthday trip to the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon a few years back. We took a three hour mule ride down into the canyon and it was an experience I’m not soon to forget. My mule’s name was “Red” and he proved to me that it is true what they say about mules. Stubborn, he had a mind of it’s own, often getting way too close to the edge of the steep trail, having me envision tumbling down over the cliff. Other times he started into a gallop to close the gap to the mule in front, of course ignoring my commands and subtle kicks to prevent the gap the begin with. The scenery was breathtaking, the experience one that will always stick with me and I wouldn’t change a thing. Utah is beautiful, colorful and rich in culture. Experiencing it in person is a must as pictures struggle to do it justice and even in person it often looks unreal as you are overwhelmed with the beauty and awesomeness at the same time. 

And yes I was sore afterwards and I’m sure I walked bow-legged in true fashion of just getting of a horse….ehemmmm mule. 

Posted in Photography, Travel

Sleeping Dragon


This picture was taking on the island of Maui. The waves were crashing ashore as the sky filled with drama to create this unforgettable moment. Seeing this picture, my vivid imagination always interprets the rocks as the teeth of a sleeping dragon. Perhaps alien alike or the mouth of an alligator. Can you see it?