Sunday, August 10, 2014

::Lantern Party 2014::

The heart of this safe, eternal group of friends was born and rooted ten years ago. And I know that decades will pass, awash with bright sparks of joy and smudges of grief, but the heart of us will keep beating. I love you, dear ones.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

::Attached::

To anyone who has ever told me; “I just don’t think I could do it. I’d get too attached,” please don’t say that. And to anyone who has ever said to me; “I just couldn’t. It would break my heart,” stop and think for a minute. What I think you mean is that foster parenting is too hard for you. And what I think you mean is that it would hurt too much for you to give it a try. But when I am about say goodbye to a child I’ve loved for months and months, and you say that, what I hear is this: “You feel less than I do. You can do this because you have a stone-heart superpower that makes it easy for you.” That’s not true. I get attached. Very attached. And my heart is so very broken. I am not braver than you, or stronger than you, and there is nothing easy about what I do.  Just so you know.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

::It had to be done::

It's hard. And it hurts. But it just had to be done.
My brothers and I at the ::Spartan Sprint::

Thursday, June 12, 2014

::DAY 13: Pretzels & Falconry::

We finally reached the point in our trip where it was time to slow right down. Slowing down looked a lot like pretzels & falconry. All week long I'd seen pretty twisted dough in the windows of local bakeries, but we never took the time to stop. The time had come.

As for the birds, they were a town over at Schillingsf├╝rst Castle. I've seen bird shows before. But there was something about seeing falconry done in the courtyard of an old castle. Bonus: Animals can't really be scripted. When Yanis the falcon refused to come down from the roof, and Vania the vulture flew off course and landed just shy of the lap of an elderly woman across the way, my day felt complete.
 
 
The town of Feuchtwangen is home to an amazing collection of German folk art. I was inspired by how much effort went into making every day things beautiful, from the hand-painted furniture, to the ornate cake tins, to the impossibly details cookie molds.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

::DAY12: Fur & Feather. Stone & Vapour::

There was only so much driving we were willing to do with five children. But, just for one day, we did decide to bolt for the mountains of Fussen, way down near the southern border. We made a pit stop along the way to ease the kids into the long drive. The Augsburg Zoo definitely went a long way to appeasing them.
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As usual, I passed out on the drive, and I woke up to mountains. I love mountains. Love them. They energize me, just like the ocean does. I think it has something to with a personal delight in feeling very small. It doesn't scare me. It awes me.

Fussen itself is at the foot of the Alps. I'm not sure what river runs past the town, but it must be glacier-melt because it is a pale blue.  We had hoped to find a hiking trails up into the woods overlooking the castle, but couldn't find a trail map anywhere. The weather really was the pits anyways. Very rainy and dark. But we came to get an eyeful of Fussen's mountains, and that is what we got. Plus, an unexpected gift arching across the sky.
 
We almost missed the rainbow. I'd gotten a few snapshots of famous Neuschwanstein Castle, and started to walk away. But before we reached the car an excited local ran our way, waving his arms animatedly. "Go back! Go back! Look!" He was making funny arching motions with his hands. We turned and it all made sense.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

::DAY 11: Fairy Tale Village::

Rothenburg on the Tauber is Germany's best-known "fairy tale village." I can see why. The place oozes beauty and medieval charm. But I think our little Dinkelsbuhl still has it beat.  However, the prize for best wall goes to this town for sure. The views!

For good measure, we still climbed the endless, corkscrewing stairs of the Rathaus to the very top, where our shoulders barely fit, and took in the red and green panoramic.
 
 
 
 
 
   

Friday, May 30, 2014

::DAY 10: Kirche & Town-Hopping::

The church bells rung a 'hurry-up' and streams of people walked the cobblestones to St. Paulskirche for morning service. We were among them. Church is a real event in tiny Dinkelsbuhl. They shut down roads to accommodate the crowds. No, we didn't understand a word. But we sang our hearts out, mangling half the words. I'm sure.
The afternoon was spent meandering through the countryside, passing through as many tiny towns as we could. Commonalities: Steepled churches, red-tiled roofs & maypoles. Spotting the slender, bowing and bending poles became a game.

May Day comes from the Celtic festival of Beltaine, which was aimed at encouraging fields and crops and trees to produce well. Now, May Day is just a fun way to celebrate the end of the long, dark winter nights.

"The beauty of a town's maypole is a matter of pride. "Experts" carefully select and fell a tall, beautiful tree. Artisans paint and decorate the maypole, complete with craftsmen's crests, a wreath and long ribbons for the dance. The men of the town raise the maypole on April 30, a sometimes difficult job because they can be as tall as 90 feet. The men use a system of hoists made of smaller, stripped-bare trees to heave the pole into place.

Climbing of the maypole is another matter of pride. Men show off their prowess by shimmying up the tall, polished tree without the benefit of handholds.

Rival towns typically try to steal other towns' maypoles. This happens so frequently that towns have started guarding their maypoles from the time the tree is felled until the end of May Day festivities. The best known theft involved a helicopter and "copious" amounts of beer and food as ransom."

 
Nordlingen is a town built inside a meteor crater. We walked the entire way around it's wall.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The castle perched on the cliff in Harburg drew us in. The question was, how to reach it? Lots, and lots of climbing.
 
 
 
 
 What a beautiful country. Every town is a gem.