Next Stop – Bedburg, Germany

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We ended up in a wheat field the day we left Nijmegan because Hubs had chosen the wrong town to input into the GPS. Garbage in, garbage out. Once we’d figured that out – with the help of a real map – we got to Bedburg in record time.

Bedburg is another very old town, existing as early as 893. It is notable for its werewolf. In the late 16th century, Bedburg was terrorized by a diabolical creature that slaughtered its cattle and snatched away its women and children, killing them with unspeakable cruelty. The shocked and horrified townspeople feared they were being victimized by a bloodthirsty werewolf who lived among them. A wealthy farmer known in the community as a pleasant enough widower and father of two adolescent children, turned out to be the deranged serial killer who wore a cloak of wolf’s skin. He even killed his own son, eating his brains. Yuck. He was caught and sentenced to a horrible death.

We stayed in a hotel in Bedburg built into the old city wall, very charming with nice grounds. Our reason for being there was so I could visit one of my former post-docs, who is a neuroscientist at the Institute of Brain Research in Dusseldorf.

The next day he took us to a center for birds of prey, where we got to see an amazing array of eagles, buzzards, falcons and owls from around the world.

We arrived in time for one of their twice daily shows, where certain birds fly free (but return), and I got to hold on a heavy leather glove, a black-backed South American buzzard eagle, who liked to have its chest stroked.

The birds were magnificent.

 After the show, we drove on to Mainz, to visit another former colleague and stay overnight. By then a heat wave had invaded Europe, and we were grateful for the car’s A/C.

Next Stop on our Vacation: The Netherlands

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The day after The Blogger’s Bash, Hubs and I flew to Amsterdam and rented a car. One of the men at Budget programed the car’s GPS for us and we drove to the tiny town of Huissen, about halfway between Arnhem and Nijmegan in western Holland. We had scheduled a visit with an old colleague of mine from my academic career (we were in the same field) who lived in Huissen; we were staying in an old three story, narrow hotel in Nijmegan.

Nijmegen is the oldest city in the Netherlands, with its first historical mention in the 1st century BC, when the Romans built a military camp on the place where Nijmegen was to appear; the location had great strategic value because of the surrounding hills, which gave (and continue to give) a good view over the Waal and Rhine valley. In 2005, it celebrated 2,000 years of existence.

You can see the diversion of the river on the left constructed to handle the overflow of water from snow runoff in the spring, which can flood the city.

Nijmegan is situated on the Wall River, close to the German border, and in 1940, it was the first Dutch city to fall into German hands during the invasion. Nijmegen was liberated from German occupation by the British Grenadier Guards and the Guards Armored Division along with well as elements of the American 82nd Airborne Division (to which I have a direct tie) in September 1944.

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This is the historical watchtower, built in 1900, that greets you as you enter the city,

 

 

Our hotel room was on the fourth floor of the hotel, which had no lift! The hotel had undergone an extensive modernization so we had a lovely room under the eaves, with a bathtub in the room, set down slightly from the wooden floor.

The next day, my colleague took us to see the oldest castle in the Netherlands, Doomenberg Castle,

which dates from the 13th century. Unfortunately, the castle was closed because they were filming a children’s show in the courtyard, but we walked around it, admiring its structure and the moat. It was occupied until the 19th century. After that it fell into disrepair and became a ruin, but was completely restored between 1947 and 1968.

After lunch, we walked around Nijmegan itself, visiting the older parts

 

 

 

 

 

of the city, including the Old Market Square.

We had dinner at a restaurant overlooking the river, and admired the old wooden floodgates.

The next day we spent some time programming our GPS on our own and ended up in a wheat field.

Making it to a milestone

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View image on Twitter

Megan McCullum, the Capital Nerd at https://mccullum001.wordpress.com – book reviewer growing into herself, just became my 1000th follower.

To all of you following me: MEGA THANKS. You make blogging worthwhile and are my extended family!

Go visit Megan and give her a book to review. Go on, I know so many of you have written books!

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

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I’ll say at the outset, I really enjoyed this film. Yes, it is another super-hero movie, but it’s more than a good super-hero movie – it’s a damn fine movie, with wonderful performances by its two main characters, played by Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, and a strong story line.

Synopsis: We are introduced to Diana as a small girl with determination. Raised on the hidden paradise island of Themyscira, which is populated by Amazons, Diana is trained to be a warrior by Antiope, played by the magnificent Robin Wright, and tutored by her mother, Hyppolita (Connie Nielsen). When a WW II plane crashes through the fog hiding the island, Diana rescues the American pilot, a spy named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who tells her about the massive war raging in the outside world. Diana has been taught by her mother that Ares, the god of war, is responsible for all conflicts, and Diana believes she must find and destroy him to end this war. Diana leaves her home, never to return, to fight alongside men and find Ares. In doing so, she realizes her full powers and in the end, her destiny.

The story is not kitchy, as the TV series Wonder Woman was; it’s more rational, in a Marvel comics sort of way. Plus Diana’s outfit is rather modest, in contrast to the revealing bustier worn by Linda Carter! Diana only gradually becomes Wonder Woman, and Gal Gadot’s nuanced performance allows you to experience her transformation from an emotional standpoint. She’s got a good career ahead of her. Her developing relationship with Steve Trevor is fun, tender, and heart-touching. Chris Pine is at his best – roguish and sarcastic with funny cast-off lines and the heart of a hero. I’ll admit, I adore this actor.

I completely agree with reviewer David Orr: “Befitting its World War I setting, Wonder Woman has a certain throwback charm, with Gadot and Pine playing off one another as good-naturedly as partners in a 1930s screwball comedy.”

The secondary characters playing Trevor’s band of men are well wrought – Eugene Brave Rock as the Chief (yes, there’s a Native American in the movie), Said Taghmaoui as Sameer, and Ewen Bremner as Charlie, the singing Scot – plus Etta Candy as Trevor’s nattering secretary. There were a few two-dimensional characters, unfortunately – Danny Huston as General Ludendorff and Elena Anaya as Dr. Poison. But overall, the plot is very character-driven.

There were a few oops moments: one, the sailboat, with no winds in its sails, sailed itself to England while Trevor and Diana slept (how did they get there?); and two, Sir Patrick, who is really Ares, being the point man in the British government who is pushing for peace and who sends Trevor, Diana and his merry men to stop General Ludendorff from interfering with the peace process. The logic escaped me. Oh well, maybe I missed something.

The special effects are about what you would expect for a movie of this type, but they are not the reason to see the film. It’s a good movie. Go see it!

ANGEL

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I got up this morning as usual at 6:30 – no alarm clock – this is when I take Angel out for her morning pee. Then it hit me, a blow to the heart. She wasn’t there. No stretching and shaking and preceding me down the hallway to the stairs, eager to start the day. No lick for my hand when I attach the leash to her collar.

Yesterday we had helped her over the rainbow bridge, as they say.

Our constant companion for the past seventeen years, our little feisty girl had needed help as her heart slowly gave out. Her walks got shorter and shorter, her naps longer and longer, and when she tried to follow me upstairs, she would faint from the exertion.

Angel was always up for something new – a walk, a ride in the car, a trip to get her nails trimmed, an introduction to other dogs. She never met another dog she didn’t like. She was our house alarm, alerting us to anyone or anything that shouldn’t be in our yard. The house is so quiet now!

And with the death of our second dog, Rock, I became her alpha, her anchor. She followed me everywhere and greeted me when I came home with joy and jumping, even if I was gone for only an hour. During our recent trip to Europe, she spent every day by the door, waiting for me, according to my daughter.

This is so very hard for me to write, but I need to do something to mark her passing. Angel was a huge part of our lives, loyal, energetic, funny, loving. I miss her acutely and always will. A part of my heart is gone.

 

First Stop on Our Trip: London for the Blogger’s Bash

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There have been a ton of posts from the wonderful people who attended the Blogger’s Bash in London in early June. Since Hubs and I were off wandering Europe for three weeks after that, I was guaranteed to be the very last person to post on the Bash.

Huge thanks to Sasha, Ali, Hugh, Geoff and all the other organizers who took so much of their precious time to organize the Bash and ensure that all of us had lots of time to meet, mingle and chat. I loved it!

I got a chance to meet some long time, long-distance friends and to make new ones. What can I say – it was a blogger’s blast!

One more thing before the rogue’s gallery. I was honored to earn second place in the Bollger’s Bash writing contest on the subject of Connection. If I could figure out how to download it (I’m digitally impaired), I’d show you my badge!

Here are some of my pictures – one or two complete with a finger. I’m only sorry I didn’t get more but Hugh did such a fantastic job videoing everyone that it doesn’t matter – except maybe for the finger!

Sir Hugh Roberts, videographer par excellence

Geoff Le Pard of the pink beard

Sue Vincent

 

Ritu Bathal, Sally Cronin, Sue and Willow

Ali Isaac and Ellen Best

Allie Potts

Helen Jones

Willow

Sheila Jackson and Christoph Fisher

A Review of Death by Pumpkin from D. Wallace Peach

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I was tickled ‘peach’ with Diana’s review of Death by Pumpkin:

Death by Pumpkin was my second read in Granger’s Rhe Brewster series and a pure joy ride. Rhe is a single mom, ER nurse, and police department consultant in the small Maine town of Pequod. She, once again, takes an active role in a police department investigation when the pumpkin-drop at a local festival reveals a murder. She rapidly goes from investigator to target as an old nemesis is determined to make her and those she cares for suffer.

The book is fast-paced and well-researched. The scene in the small plane was particularly riveting and highlighted Granger’s attention to detail. Other than the villain, the characters are all beautifully three-dimensional and full of quirky personality. I thoroughly enjoyed the interplay in the authentic relationships. In addition to the murder investigation, romantic and political subplots add interest and tension. A perfect read for anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries with plenty of thrills.

Thank you, Diana!

While I Was Away

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I had many new followers appear while I was away. I’d like to recognize some of them:

 

Free Soul – A flawed human, a seeker of truth, enjoying my journey on this earth.

Willeke-Maya at https://irelandms.com

gjseth

converseit

scskillman  Warwick, UK fellow writer

Lance Greenfield at lancegreenfield.wordpress.com

Anjali Singh  at https://sabakuchsocial.wordpress.com/

Poornima M Reddy at https://purnisfoodblog.wordpress.com

Ruth at https://imageandword.wordpress.com/t

Jessica Norrie – writer, linguist, teacher, mother at https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com/

Professional Child Wrangler at https://confessionsofanurseryassistant.wordpress.com

Ellen Best at https://ellenbest24.wordpress.com

Helen Jones at https://journeytoambeth.com   

https://freeandvibrantlife.wordpress.com

https://overresearch.wordpress.com

thewebbhomestead

Lab Works blog at https://labworksweb.wordpress.com

Prajahma Cruces at https://intrepidiamcom.wordpress.com/

Antonio Tarnawiecki  at https://tarnawieckisart.wordpress.com

 

I appreciate your interest!

 

Ten Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Vacation in Europe During the Summer

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Yes, I am back, travel worn, jet lagged but hopefully compos mente. Hubs and I did a huge circuit, starting in London with the Blogger’s Bash (amazing), then the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, and France before returning to Schiphol for the flight to Heathrow and home. I’ll be posting on all the things we did and saw over the next few weeks, but first…

My ten reasons for not choosing the summer to tour Europe

  1. People – hordes and hordes and hordes of people, many of them clustered in crowds around someone holding a flag. Masses moving like lemmings.

  2. Long lines to get in to see various things – wait time so long we sometimes gave up (coupled with #5).

  3. Two lane roads.

  4. Two lane roads with huge trucks. So much merchandise moves by truck in Europe. The only fun was guessing the origination of the truck (hint: there is a one or two letter designation on the license).

  5. Heat. We had more than a week of heat in the 90s. Ennervating.

  6. Hotel rooms with no A/C. I slept sans clothes that whole week. One night it was so bad we considered sleeping in the car, which did have A/C.

  7. BMW drivers. Good grief, they never drove by us at a speed any less than 20 km over the limit, and we stuck to the speed limit. Plus they were rude, flashing their lights and beeping their horns and moving in and out of traffic. (Sorry to any of you who drive a BMW – I’m sure this is not you!)

  8. Road construction on long stretches of major highways, with the attendant parking lots.

  9. Incredibly sticky insects. Our windshield was a testimony to their lives and required a lot of elbow grease each time we stopped for gas.

  10. Countries which are part of the EU but don’t use Euros (England, the Czech Republic, and Austria), necessitating changing money.

We’ve decided that the best time to tackle our next adventure in Europe will be November or March. The downside is you have to bring warm clothes. And the roads could have snow.

Did we have fun? YES. and stay tuned for that!

Friendship

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My husband and I spent the weekend at our lake house with some friends we’ve known for more than 40 years. We rented a condo from them when we lived in California and had so many adventures taking weekend vacations together – lots of camping and shared meals. They’ve moved back and forth across the country over the years, as have we, but always kept in touch and saw each other from time to time. As we’ve aged, we’ve shared each other’s worries about our children, work, and now the daunting process of growing old. Which got me to thinking about the nature of friendship.

How many truly close friends do you have? Not casual relationships, but people who would travel hours to see you if you were sick or needed help. People who truly know you, and accept you, warts and all, who know your life’s history and can mark the anniversaries. Not many, I’d bet.

In this day of texting, “friending” on Facebook, tweeting, and other ways of communicating without face to face time, how many true friends will our children have? How much less rich will their lives be, how much less solid with the knowledge that there are people outside your family who really care about you?
I’d welcome your thoughts!