Winter is nigh …

We’ve been at the farm for about 12 weeks.  I’ve managed to paint the upstairs, closets included, and the room downstairs I’m using as an office.  But I’ve reached a stopping point – in order to continue I’d have to move everything out of the guest room and dance around it for two days while I did the painting.  Small complaint.

We’ve deconstructed the bathroom and dumped it all into the biggest dumpster in the world which was temporarily planted in our front yard.  Now that it’s gone the real work – replacing the bathroom has begun.  It’s the perfect time to leave.

The guest room has been used!  I’m trying to entice people to come up though we may shortly have only one working bathroom, well 3/4’s of a working bathroom as the shower upstairs is being measured for glass as we speak.  Every time we use it we have to mop up the floor and wipe down the walls.  While it makes for a clean bathroom it’s a pain.

As usual I’m ambivalent about living up north.  We are isolated, 17 miles from Merrill – that teeming metropolis and 24 miles from Rhinelander – land of lakes.  There are compensations.  The sunrises are sometimes breathtaking,IMG_0174 the sunsets shades of pink and blue and white.  I can hear coyotes carrying on in the woods on an evening walk.  The quiet is soothing and I don’t really mind the cold.  That’s just a matter of dressing properly.

I don’t get to see friends enough.  Leaving R without a vehicle at the farm for more than an overnight or two makes me uncomfortable though he says he’s fine.  In order to see people in town I’d have to stay a bit longer than I usually do and when the road looks like this DSC01200I think it might be better to have a car around.

I leave this coming Saturday for Boulder to teach for 8 weeks.  I feel like a slug – R is left with all of the bathroom redo to manage.  Arggghhhhhhhh!

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Up North

I finished with class in Boulder on October 9th and drove back to the farm in Gleason over the next day and a half – taking and extra five hours because I was going north rather than to Madison.  Our neighbor, Jerry King, who so often steps in to help us out when we need it was waiting for me in the driveway.  I gave him a hug and we inspected the house.  I’m sparing you the pictures, really.  While we can say there were no holes in the walls and all of the fixtures and appliances that were there when we rented it 6 years ago were still there they also had the added charm of 6 years of dust-grease-smoke and god knows what else all over them.

U-Haul @ Farm

Before we opened the door …

On October 15th I picked R up in Chicago where we stayed overnight.  Once we were back in Madison I arranged for a U-Haul for Friday morning, we cleaned out our storage shed in about 1 1/2 hours and took off for the farm.  We had to make a stop at Slumberland because we have no furniture – not even a bed.  The guy who helped us put his shoulder to the mattress and stuffed it into the truck with a grunt.  When we pulled the door open at the farm it nearly popped out flattening Jerry, R and me.

Mario & Cressidea

Cressida and Marius


The Pacific roiling behind us

We were home for a few days then took off for Half Moon Bay for the lovely, lovely wedding of Cressida and Marius.

Once we got back I delayed beginning the painting – I was afflicted by a faintness of heart – but finally got my will going and have managed to finish the upstairs room – huge as it is – and all of the closets.  I’m covered in white spots that may become part a permanent part of my “look” as I’ve decided to paint the entire inside of the house white.  Everything.  Absolutely everything.  We’ll see how long that lasts.


Compensations such as this sunrise.

While I’m ambivalent about living “up north” – I miss easy access to friends, coffee shops, entertainment, restaurants – every time I take the time to look at the sky or the trees I find myself saying, “it’s beautiful, so beautiful.”  There are compensations.


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And still going …

I spent two weeks in Madison which when I made the plan felt like it would be a long time but I found that there simply was not enough time to do and see everyone while I was there.  My friend Maggie did the road trip with me out to Boulder IMG_0942and we got to spend a few days together once here.

We found a jazz festival up in Niwot that was great fun with good music and free!  There’s a really nice restaurant called Colterra.  If you’re ever in Niwot, Colorado stop in.

Class is hurtling along. This is our class – incognito.IMG_0951 I can’t believe that we have only three weeks left.  This group is remarkable in their preparation and in their attention and that makes me happy that I’m teaching again. It’s also no surprise that some rough edges are beginning to show.  They’ve been getting two sessions a week from each other along with sitting much of the day in a classroom and trying to negotiate their real lives while doing this training.

R is in Dubai with Michelle and Nigel and will be coming home on October 15th.  I’ll pick him up at O’Hare and we’ll make our way up to the farm to see what needs to be done.  The idea of R being in Dubai while I worked here in Boulder  felt like a good plan until I realized that while I paid little attention to him while teaching he paid attention to me – and I miss that now.

Today, Friday, I’m off from class and I usually try to catch up on laundry, paperwork and cleaning.  I’ve also been known to sit in a movie theatre for a couple of hours – depends on what’s playing.



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Home again, home again

I’d like to claim that I was away long enough and that my language skills became good enough that I now hesitate and look for words in English in order to communicate here at home.  It wouldn’t be true.  If I hesitate it’s because I have to pay attention a little differently than I did.  People are actually talking to me, having conversations, expecting complex answers.

R and I spent two days in Frankfurt with a previously unmet family member (my  mother’s half brother – 12 years her junior) and his very sweet, funny wife.  Frankfurt is like any large city.  Crowded, loud, commerce driven.  I was so happy that we had spent our time in Dresden – such a fair city comparatively and on its own.  The visit was interesting as my uncle looks a bit like my mother and brother and the resemblance triggered some longings.

Time zones always confuse me.  Even daylight savings time has wreaked havoc . Friends who’ve gotten telephone calls from me reminding them to change their clocks –  the wrong direction and two weeks earlier than the rest of the world can attest to this.  So I don’t really know how long it took to get home though it felt endless.  Frankfurt airport is enormous.  Packed with travelers, suitcases, carts.  R was at one terminal and I at another, so our goodbye was a quick hug and a kiss and a dash in different directions.  It took me 30 minutes to get to my gate and that was with a terminal train doing the hard part.

I had a plane change in Copenhagen and my confusion became surreal.  I trekked along to my new gate and found myself in the middle of a high end department store.  Boss, Armani – other names I don’t know much about.  Perfume counter.  Jewelry counter, stationary counter.  The rarefied silence that seems to go with expensive stores.  Turns out you need to walk through the store to get to the terminal that leads to your gate.  Really.

I’m happy to be home – staying with my friend Rachel, having dinner and lunch with friends I haven’t seen in nearly a year, preparing for Boulder.  I’m looking forward to teaching this summer/fall and to implementing plan b and not wearing the same clothes I’ve been wearing for the past 10 months.

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Serendipity and plan b

Toward the end of our stay in Rovinj I announced one morning that I missed teaching.  Kind of out of the blue.  When I checked my e-mail later in the day – this is true – my colleague Thomas from the Rolf Institute had sent me a note saying, “Are you sure you won’t assist in August?” It felt like it was meant to be and so I said yes.


Farm house in Gleason

Also, during the course of the winter as R and I talked about our long term plans we both realized that our northern farm was probably due for some serious rehab after 6 years of being a rental property.  The two events have come together to help us form plan b and there is nothing I like better than a plan.  With notes, estimates, files and a todo list.

While this trip – it will be nearly a year long – has been great, I realized that I really want a home base, a place where we can drop our bags and not have to start all over again.  And of course, you can’t leave a house empty  for long – especially when you have winters like this.


Deershiners Drive

I’ll be leaving Dresden for Madison on July 30th, where I’ll be until August 15th or so when I’ll make my way to Boulder to begin teaching until mid-October.  R leaves on the same day for Dubai, where he’ll visit with Michelle until I pick him up at O’Hare on my way back from teaching.  We’ll move back up to the farm and begin working the farm house plan.  In there some where is a new free standing garage with an apartment on the second floor – that would be home base.


There’s a deck outside of that door these days.

The farm house is in pretty good shape.  We finished the second floor bathroom and the deck off of the upstairs before we left.The outdoor wood furnace keeps the house wonderfully warm.  Our hope is that friends and family will come to visit while we are in the process – maybe even set up a few home trades – you at the farm for a weekend, week or month – us at your place – where ever that may be.  Our goal is to get the house ready to rent again while creating a separate space for us to live when we are back home.   That’s plan b.






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Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden

We went to the Hygiene-Museum on Friday afternoon.  It’s an enormous  nondescript building next to the Dresden Zoo (that’s next week).  We were going back and forth about visiting this museum because we couldn’t quite figure out what the content would be given its name.  And I, in my grey way, had visions of hygiene and its historical application to vast numbers in WW II, so if you’re willing to walk a mile in my socks or a meter in my socks you get the picture.

Anyway, we took the plunge and it was wonderful.  We spent close to two hours there which is one hour longer than our limit tends to be in museums.  They have an exhibit up called Dance! moves that move us.  It’s an historical look at dance, beginning with the innovations of Nijinski stepping right into b-boying ( a new name though not a new form to me).

There’s a classic video loop of Mary Wigman (

Mary Wigman  Hexatanz

Mary Wigman

performing Hexatanz  a significant piece in dance history as well as  contemporary interactive exhibits like wi and sound producing wobble and jump boards that can be used to create musical scores.  Along one wall  a series of monitors  were set up with headphones showing clips from various dance movies beginning with a Fred Astaire film and ending with Billy Elliot.

One of the films was Michael Jackson’s  The Way You Make Me Feel video issued in December 1987.  ( I don’t really remember it from the year it was released, I probably wasn’t watching MTV very much but seeing it in 20014 – the way it made me feel was uncomfortable.  The violence, the implied threat of the situation and the movement, Jackson’s pugnacious jaw and strong pelvic thrusts while singing about the way SHE makes him feel … yikes.  The fact that the woman he is chasing is so similar in body type as Jackson himself just lays down another level of creepiness.  While R and I had a glass of wine in the cafe on the first floor he expressed the same reaction which surprised me.  He said he couldn’t watch it.  I’m interested in what people had to say back in 1987 – if there was any discussion about the content then – and interested too, in people’s current reaction to the clip.  Take a look at it.  Let me know what you think.


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First the good news

I love to swim – and to swim outdoors in a pool – heaven!  So when Robert came home last week and said, “First the good news …” and then told me about the enormous outdoor swimming pool he had found I was thrilled.  It was a ten minute walk from our apartment and cost about 3 Euro for the day, had a snack bar and was surrounded by green space.  I was packing my bag while I asked him, “And what’s the bad news?”  He smiled. “It’s FKK.”

IMG_1746I took this picture in Rovinj, where it was bit too cold yet to explore the beaches.  This sign indicates that it’s a nude beach, not clothes optional mind you, but nude.  Clothes not allowed.  And please, let’s discuss the silhouette.  Perky breasts.  Flat tummy.  Long, slim legs.  And oh, yes, female.  That’ll make me want to strip my clothes off and play volley ball, uh huh.

But swimming – outdoors; it was awful hot the first ten days we were here – 94 F and humid. So I packed a towel and off we went.  Beautiful day, clouds gathering in the sky promising a temperature changing rain storm soon, but not yet.  I was a little nervous.  I remembered the sign from Rovinj.  I thought perhaps I could wear a sarong to cover up my lovely scars, not to mention my hips.

We paid our fee, walked through the turn style and made our way toward a low building that looked as though it housed toilets or lockers.  We were mumbling to ourselves trying to figure out where to change, I mean undress and  wondering where to do it.  In the toilet? Or are there lockers?   or do we just stop where we are and drop ’em?  The answer is C.

The toilets are …. toilets.  That is their only purpose. If you had wanted to remove your clothes in one of them you’d have to be a Chinese acrobat.  The pool is dug into a mound that is surrounded by grass.  You pick your spot and get rid of those pesky clothes.  I draped my towel insouciantly over my shoulder wishing I’d had one of those giant swim towels and sauntered toward the pool.  Okay, skittered crab like, toward the pool.  I showered off at the shallow end – gritting my teeth and refusing to scream out loud at the cold water  but only because no one else was screaming- and got right in.  It was grand.  The pool is warmish but certainly warm enough once I started doing laps and boy is it fun to swim without bathing suit  straps digging into my shoulders.

The bodies at the Luftbad do not look like the ones on that sign.  They are round, paunchy, wrinkled, skinny, droopy, scarred, old, young  and everything in between.  They’re just bodies and really, kind of cute and cartoon like when unclothed.  I don’t know why that is.  Maybe because they are doing all the things that bodies with clothes on do.  Like standing around and talking to each other, giving a three year old a juice box, reading a 1000 page beach book while laying on a lawn chair, lighting a cigarette.  Just no clothes.  Although one caution did come to mind.  Bending to pick up one’s clothes or towel should be done with the knees pressed together, slightly turned to the side with a  folding  action- rather like a fan –  as our grandmother’s taught us.  You are likely to reveal a bit more than anyone needs to know if done otherwise.



















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We’ve been in Dresden for a week. 
DSC04641We started out at 7:45 last Friday morning and arrived about 8 hours later after missing our first connection (even Germany has scheduling problems) and making 4 changes to catch up with our original train.  Though it was long it was still fun.  Dresden was celebrating when we got here.  Crowded, festive.  The change of heart that is now Germany – inclusion, tolerance, acceptance was apparent.  
Bachelorette Party

This femme fatale had a dress made of condom packets, 8″ white pleather boots and as you can see a demure cardigan with pearls. She took pictures with a bachelorette party that passed through. The bride to be wearing a tray around her neck and carrying a sign offering a blow for a euro.  The tray held balloons.  Yes, that’s the blow.

Aussicht aus Fenster

This is the view from our apartment window.  We’re feeling rich because we’ve got three rooms on the top floor and there always seems to be a breeze passing through.  I’m relieved that we are in a city.  While Illmensee was lovely we were held hostage by the limited transportation system.  Here we’ve already bought our monthly passes and have used them daily.  There are busses every 20 minutes or so on into the night which means we are free to go in and out of the city, explore, ride to the end of tram lines – turn around and come back or stop and explore any neighborhood or cafe that looks interesting.  You can see the Frauenkirche to the left.

This fountain is in Plauen, just a few stops down from our apartment.  I like the creatures perched on the rim.  They hang all around the edge spurting water.  When we there a pigeon was taking a very careful bath beneath the water, lifting first one wing then the other, shaking himself off, then repeating the whole dance.


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You may be away but you’re never that far away …

We leave for Dresden tomorrow morning.  I’ve been chomping at the bit for the last ten days.  While I love rural landscapes; cows, birds, gardens – my bottom line requires a bit more remote stimulation that a largish town or small city can provide.  I’m glad we’re leaving – for a more recent and challenging reason.

The house we’ve been living in has a small apartment downstairs in which an American couple – around our age (M and N)  – have been staying.  We’ve done a few things with them.  They have a rental car and are a bit more flexible in their schedule than we are.  It’s been pleasant.  R and M (the male of the couple) have gone some rounds over liberalism, global warming and well, a few other things.  But nothing requiring stitches.  I stay mum mostly and talk with N about hobbies, the cost of food – chat, in other words.

They’ve been gone for a week or more- their style is to take car trips where ever the fancy takes them.  A few weeks ago when they e-mailed me that they were in Sweden I thought they were joking.  They weren’t.  Tonight we went down stairs to say we were off to Dresden.  M opened the door.  Heard our chipper statement.  Told us to “have a nice trip” and closed the door in our faces.  I was astonished.

I can’t imagine what it is we might have done.  We’ve paid for coffee, cake, lunch when possible as a thank you for the car availability.  I think when they left for their last trip we were on good terms.  Hmmmmm.

The social see saw that has always screwed with my sense of balance is clearly on tilt-o-mode.  And I thought – wait – this is what social media is about … something happens, you are too far away to call a friend and “process”, so you blog about it.

While I haven’t left high school as far behind as I had hoped I have leapt into the 21st century and see yet another way to “stay in touch”.

I’m really looking forward to Dresden.  Really.


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The Zusptize or a sister

The Zugspitze or a sister mountain

Garmisch-Partenkirchen sits at the base of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze.  It feels as if you’re being held in a wide bottomed bowl as you look up at the massive peaks above your head.  My brother was born here some 63 (or so) years ago.  Garmisch for me, has the air of a folk tale.  My mother talked of skating here, having coffee on Marienplatz, of giving birth to my 13 pound brother.  I have some photographs of them shortly after he was born – he looks like a one year old.


My brother and me in N.Y.

My brother and me in N.Y.

Some of the facts of our lives have always felt shrouded in mist, much as the peak of the Zugspitze. I know it’s there but I can’t quite see it.  It is a mystery conjured by my mother who more often than not felt that children should be seen (nicely dressed) and not heard and that one should eat everything not know everything.  Though as I got a little older she would tell me stories about herself when she was younger.  They were tinged with not nostalgia so much as a sense that there was a life lived before and one after.  Somewhere inside me there was always a hope that my mother would decide to move back to Europe – I of course would go with her and fulfill my destiny to be exotic and live “abroad”.


My mom in Berlin, post war

My mom in Berlin, post war

I have no doubt that that idea was mine and mine alone.  My mother took great pride in her Americaness.  When someone would ask her, because of her accent – a life long difficulty with th’s, w’s and f’s what nationality she was, she’d fix them with a very blue eye and say, “American”.  She was proud too, of the fact that I was born in the states, though I lied for many years and said Paris was my birthplace.  We spoke English at home until I took French and German in school and only then did we institute one day a week foreign language use.  I could bring her to tears speaking French with a pretended southern accent.

There is another reason I wanted to go to Garmisch.  I’ve had trouble sleeping most of my adult life.  Some years ago on one of those frustrating and painful nights, in a fit of restless insomnia I whined to Robert to tell me a story.  Early on we had discovered that his voice could lull me to sleep but if he read he’d needed a light which would add to my insomnia.  Thus only a story, told in the dark in a soothing voice would do.  He began weaving together a series of stories about a little girl in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, her family, a very special dog and world events that became a creative cycle that took on a life of its own.

Putting my feet on the cobblestones of Garmisch, looking at views and landscapes, store fronts and pubs that had been woven into the stories is like my dream of Disneyland.   We’ve continued to tell the stories back and forth, suggesting details, correcting misconceptions that one of the other of us has formed.  It’s an ongoing creative project that darts and weaves throughout our lives.  That it has some relationship to my own life in actuality makes it all the sweeter.

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