Happy Holidays (2009) from Berlin, Germany

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December 2nd 2009
Published: December 6th 2009
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Happy Holidays 😊 😊 to All!!

Fröhlich Weihnachten!!

As many of you know, we are spending another year in Germany. Last time (2002-2004) we were in the Ruhr Valley, in Bochum, the far west of the country near the border with the Netherlands (click on map at left to enlarge; Bochum isn't on the map, but it is very near Essen (far left). This year we are on the other side of the country in Berlin where Bernard is an external lecturer (in English) of international humanitarian law for the German Red Cross. He is working with some of the same people he did when last we lived here. Indeed Heike Spieker, his boss here and whom he worked with closely in the past, is the lead attorney for the German Red Cross and the person responsible for this teaching gig, which he LOVES.

But let's back up a bit and review 2009:

January. Our first visitors of the year were some friends we'd made in South Africa. Chipo and her 12-year-old son, Sipho had been spending Christmas on the east coast with family when they got the idea to come and visit us - to get
Jan. - Chipo & Sipho in AZJan. - Chipo & Sipho in AZJan. - Chipo & Sipho in AZ

At native american rug shop. They were our neighbors in Pretoria, South Africa when we lived there in 2005 - 06. Yes, Sipho is 12 years old!
out of the cold of Pennsylvania Im pretty sure. But we took them to the Grand Canyon (actually they REALLY wanted to go) where it was cold and snowing, just like back East. We had lots of adventures in the warm, dry Sonoran Desert too before they had to fly back to Pennsylvania for a few days before returning to Pretoria, South Africa.

February. Jaqueline Barrios from Guatemala and her sister, Mercedes, aka Alejandra, came for a week. Yep, back to the Grand Canyon where it was still cold - makes one appreciate the beauty of a Tucson winter that much more when returning from below freezing climes.

A few days after Jaqueline and Mercedes left, friends Stuart & Susan Simon from Seattle arrived. They had been to Tucson many times, so we did some things we'd not done before, which was loads of fun.

March. Small world story: Bernie's niece, Adrienne, studied Chinese at Middlebury College, Vermont, and her professor and mentor was Prof. John Berninghausen. When Adrienne heard that John and his wife Alice were wintering in Tucson (still live in Vermont), she connected us. We met for dinner, then another dinner, than a few
Feb. - Jaqueline & MercedesFeb. - Jaqueline & MercedesFeb. - Jaqueline & Mercedes

Jackie (on left) and her sister Mercedes, aka Alejandra, (Guatemalan) at the Grand Canyon in February 09
hikes - yeah, we hit it off immediately (visited them during the summer at their home in Vermont - see "USA Summer 09" blog).


The end of March into April found Bernard in Evian, France as a judge in an international law moot court competition (Pictet) which was exhausting, but invigorating and fun. He might be a judge in the one this year in Quebec, Canada.

April is when friends from Alaska, Pat Heller and John Wunch, come to Tucson for a sun break. Pat's parents, George & Peggy Brown (owners of the Lucky Wishbone restaurant in Anchorage) have had a home in Tucson for years. In fact Pat went to the University of Arizona in Tucson a few(?) years ago. We like to go on outings with them and this time we tried to go to a wildlife preserve in Patagonia, but it was closed that day. We contemplated jumping the fence, but decided to find adventure elsewhere,
Feb. - Stuart & Susan in AZFeb. - Stuart & Susan in AZFeb. - Stuart & Susan in AZ

Friends from Seattle who frequently visit. Went into the Queen Mine in Bisbee - generally not for the claustrophobic among us (me!!), but with lots of fresh air circulating, it didn't bother me
which we did.

In April we also got together with Linda & Tim McMillan**, more friends from Anchorage, who were taking a sun break in Tucson. My cousin Phyllis** from California came for a visit too. Her mom, my first cousin, lives in Sierra Vista so she spent most of her time there. An old friend of Bernie's from Anchorage, Nona Wilke, and friends spent the day with us at the Desert Museum.

May. Nancy & Jerry Wertzbaugher** flew down from Alaska with king crab legs(!!), so we picked them up at the airport and whisked them home to eat those crab legs - a salad, some garlic bread, heaven! They had parked their RV with friends in Tucson and had to hit the road, so we didn't have a lot of time with them, but they plan to come to Berlin for a visit probably in February. We had a lovely dinner with my cousin's husband's cousin Steve McAllister.*

*My first cousin BJ's (Phyllis's mom) husband Rob's first cousin from New York.

**Sorry Linda & Tim, Nancy & Jerry, Phyllis and Steve - forgot to get photos of you all.

For Mother's Day I
March - Pat Heller & John Wunch, Patagonia, AZMarch - Pat Heller & John Wunch, Patagonia, AZMarch - Pat Heller & John Wunch, Patagonia, AZ

Civilization finally after taking back roads, fording streams, walking through swamps and keeping irritated cows at bay with switches - another adventure! An "adventure" has to be either dangerous or uncomfortable.
got the best present EVER - daughter Christina and grandson Evan came for a visit (with husband/father Mark, they live in Fremont, California). It was short, but oh so sweet. Unfortunately it was unseasonably hot, so we had to be creative regarding indoor activities. Evan, at age 3, couldn't really fathom why we couldn't play outside, until he tried it for about 2 minutes and broke a sweat immediately. He loves our VW and usually spends some time behind the wheel "driving" the parked van. We tried it in the garage for about five minutes, when Evan looked at me with the funniest expression and said "Grandma, I can't drive in this heat." Oh so true!

May 25 - July.At the end of May, the 25th to be exact, we headed east for our summer-long driving trip visiting family, mostly Bernie's, and friends all across the south and east of the USA. See previous blog "USA Summer 09" for photos of all the family and friends we saw over the summer.

We flew to Germany (from New Jersey) in July for Bernie to teach in the German Red Cross summer program. I went and apartment hunted, finding and
April - John & Alice BerninghausenApril - John & Alice BerninghausenApril - John & Alice Berninghausen

We hiked Sabino Canyon on Easter Sunday - what a great way to celebrate a holiday!
leasing one before we returned.

Returning to the states, we had some sad news, Bernie's cousin Tom Killip, age 60, had died unexpectedly. We postponed our drive back to Tucson to be with the family and to attend the visitations and funeral service. As they say, you only see everyone at weddings and funerals and it was indeed a pleasure to see all of Tom's lovely family, but it was such a heartbreaking occasion.

The German Red Cross position hadn't been firmed up before we left for our summer trip, so when we did get on the road, we had to make good time returning to Tucson where we had affairs to arrange, doctor/dentist appointments to keep and a house to get in order before leaving.

In September we moved to Berlin. Two weeks after we arrived, Bernard's job sent him to a conference in San Remo, Italy. Shortly after that he began lecturing, which he does regularly, but not on a particular schedule. They haven't had an office for him at the RC headquarters until now, so next week he'll be spending several days a week there - he has been working from home.

April - Aunty JJ & Evan - Kings of the HillApril - Aunty JJ & Evan - Kings of the HillApril - Aunty JJ & Evan - Kings of the Hill

Didn't see daughter JJ/Jannay this year!! She visited Christina & family in CA over Easter (and is coming to Berlin in Feb.). She still lives in Anchorage, Alaska
October we flew to the Netherlands to visit friends Marcel Blom and his family in the Hague and Henk & Mäcki Koek in Leiden. We also got together with our old neighbors, Katherine & Stephan and daughter Sophia and Bernie had lunch with an old friend, Robert, who is now an Asst. Prof. at the Univ. of Leiden. Old friend Cockey Kuijlaars, one of the amazing International Club Ladies, as was Mäcki, I first met in 2001, came to Henk & Mäcki's for tea one afternoon.

November found us in Quito, Ecuador where Bernie was lecturing. Exchange student/daughter Camila, from Brazil, who lived with us for 2 years in Alaska, met us there. We stayed in a hotel while Bernardo taught, then on Friday - Monday we stayed with old friendsLiz & Gustavo Lopez whom we had become friends with when we lived in Ecuador in 1996-97. They have a lovely home and fabulous kids - we had a super time!

Bernie has also been traveling in Germany for his teaching assignments and now that the Christmas season is upon us, we plan on taking in some local Christmas markets - think gluhwein and bratwurst, local handicraft and
May - Evan & ChristinaMay - Evan & ChristinaMay - Evan & Christina

We went to a children's "museum" and Evan's favorite was he driving a fire truck and a police motorcycle, got to run the sirens. I'd forgotten what little boys like - they like NOISE! Too Fun.
food vendors, carnival rides for the kids and ice skating, among other such activities. I looked on the internet this morning to see where I might find a Christmas market in Berlin. Turns out there are 18! We were told that Berlin is more a collection of villages than a big city, and this proves it, I think. I like the idea, however, as they have "themes" such as one at the Charlottenburg castle is "historic" dating from 1815 - 1848 and there'll be period Christmas displays in the castle.

Near Future: We'll be going back to Bochum (via train & public transportation - 5 hrs. door to door), our old stomping grounds, again this weekend for B to lecture and he'll do his 3rd and final lecture in the series in January.

We fly to Israel to visit friends December 17 and return December 27. We'll also visit Petra, Jordan while in the area.

In January there is a chance Bernard will teach in Dublin, Ireland, and I'd definitely accompany him. We'd love to visit his family on the west coast of Ireland, but it is a long way by slow bus and we won't have
May - Grandson EvanMay - Grandson EvanMay - Grandson Evan

And ice cream, little boys like ice cream. A Tucson institution, Austin's Old Fashion Ice Cream Parlor does NOT skimp on the scoops.
much time (B has other teaching obligations) so we might not have a chance to visit them this trip.

February we hope will bring daughter JJ/Jannay and friend Kelly from Alaska for a visit on their way to Thailand for a winter break. JJ/Jannay tries to spend her birthday, and this is the big Four Oh, in a new country every year. We haven't seen The J in a long while, so look forward to some time with her.

We saw exchange student daughter Marcela (Argentina) at her 40th birthday party in Miami (see "USA Summer 09 blog), but didn't see her twin, Victoria (lives and works in Ibiza, Spain & Argentina), nor our Marysia this year, but since she is in Poland and we are practically on the border, we'll definitely see her. I've included photos of these lovely young ladies. Be sure to google Marysia (Marysia or Maria Peszek) - it is AMAZING how much she has done - she is in Wikipedia too.

Many other friends and family are in the early planning stages (the Dollar is down vis-á-vis the Euro, so that may make some folks rethink their plans) of visits here and
May - Nona (far right), et al, at Desert MuseumMay - Nona (far right), et al, at Desert MuseumMay - Nona (far right), et al, at Desert Museum

I worked at the AZ Sonora Desert Museum as a docent up until the very last minute - I LOVE it there and enjoyed showing people this amazing living museum. Not being able to work there is the one regret I have re: being in Germany this year
no doubt you'll read about them in next years holiday letter.

At the end of the photo section please see some of my aunt taken in South Korea a few months ago. Betty was an Army nurse during the Korean War and spent most of her time at a hospital in Japan where the war injured were taken when able to travel. She has been active with her Korean War Veterans' association (marching in many parades) and went with them (and my sister Mary Jean as traveling companion) to a ceremony in South Korea where the veterans there honored them in many ceremonies, awarding of medals, banquets, outings - she had a fabulous time.

We hope this finds you all enjoying the holiday season. We particularly miss home during the holidays - I was sick after returning from Ecuador so didn't even attempt a Thanksgiving dinner. I did, however, promise B I would try to find a turkey, but I haven't seen any in the stores, just geese, which is the German staple for the holidays. I may attempt a goose, or just get a REALLY big chicken and try to pass it off, what'd ya think?
Sept. - San Remo, ItalySept. - San Remo, ItalySept. - San Remo, Italy

It is hard for us to believe Europeans think these beaches are great - especially after spending the summer on the east coast of the US where the deep, fine sand beach really are FABULOUS.

We hope the joys of the season warm your hearts and the new year brings health and prosperity to all - we'll be thinking of you!

Kathy & Bernard

NOTE: My apostrophes seem to go missing in the text, so you might see a possessive noun with its apostrophe "s" missing.

P.S. For those of you who send out cards and letters via snail-mail this time of year, please include us at our address in Tucson: 9121 E. Tanque Verde #105-184, Tucson, AZ 85749 as we have our mail forward once a month and enjoy so much hearing from folks. K

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


Sept. - San Remo, ItalySept. - San Remo, Italy
Sept. - San Remo, Italy

And then there is the culture - this old Russian Orthodox church in San Remo has been beautifully maintained throughout the centuries
Oct. - Marcel, Bernard & Noah, the Hague, HollandOct. - Marcel, Bernard & Noah, the Hague, Holland
Oct. - Marcel, Bernard & Noah, the Hague, Holland

Unfortunately I failed to get a photo of Marcel's lovely wife Vera and 3 daughters. We took Noah, their much loved pet, for a walk on the beach before we went to this cafe for hot chocolate
Oct - Henk & Mäcki Koek, Leiden, NetherlandsOct - Henk & Mäcki Koek, Leiden, Netherlands
Oct - Henk & Mäcki Koek, Leiden, Netherlands

What a lovely, interesting and fun couple! We hadn't seen them since Germany in 2007 (we rendezvoused with them on our Christmas Market Cruise with my sister, Mary Jean, and husband Buzz)
Oct. - Stephan, Sophia & KatherineOct. - Stephan, Sophia & Katherine
Oct. - Stephan, Sophia & Katherine

Our neighbors our first year (01) in Holland. Sophia, who spoke only Dutch when we'd last seen her, had been going to the American School where Katherine teaches, so her English is now perfect!
Oct. - Remotes, You Want Remotes?Oct. - Remotes, You Want Remotes?
Oct. - Remotes, You Want Remotes?

I was telling Katherine how when I babysat I couldn't figure out how to watch TV because of Stephan's numerous remote controls. Sophia opened a draw where there were A LOT of remotes, and said, oh, you mean THESE remotes?
Nov. - Camila, Bernie & Kathy in EcuadorNov. - Camila, Bernie & Kathy in Ecuador
Nov. - Camila, Bernie & Kathy in Ecuador

Camila, Brazil, joined us in Quito, Ecuador. It worked out beautifully and our Ecuadorian friends, Liz & Gustavo fell in love with her too.
Nov. - Liz & GustavoNov. - Liz & Gustavo
Nov. - Liz & Gustavo

We met Liz & Gustavo when living in Quito for a month training with World Teach (1996). The lived in Guayaquil, but were visiting family (we were staying with her aunt). So when we went to Guayaquil, Liz & Gustavo met us at the airport, helped us find a place to live (thank you, thank you!!) and became good, good friends - out for fresh crabs and a movie most weekends, yum, we still think about those wonderful times
Nov. - Lopez FamilyNov. - Lopez Family
Nov. - Lopez Family

Our last night (Camie had left) in Quito we took the Lopez family out for sushi (super restaurant!). Daughter Camila, (yes, we had 2 Camila's), was 4 the last time we'd seen her and we'd gone to Diego's, the son's, baptism! They have grown into warm, kind and lovely young people (both spoke excellent English).
Victoria & MarcelaVictoria & Marcela
Victoria & Marcela

Our Argentine exchange student daughters in Mexico this Oct. They met their mom and older sister, Andrea, in Cozumel for a girls get-away
Marysia PeszekMarysia Peszek
Marysia Peszek

Last, but certainly not least, another exchange student daughter who is also Bernie's cousin. This photo is from one of her music cds released in Poland where she is enjoying much fame - concerts, cd sales - look for her on YouTube for many of her music videos - lots of fun!
Aunt Betty In South KoreaAunt Betty In South Korea
Aunt Betty In South Korea

One of the ceremonies honoring the soldiers of the "forgotten war."
Aunt Betty & BuddiesAunt Betty & Buddies
Aunt Betty & Buddies

Betty with some of her fellow American Korean War Veterans who traveled together to South Korea
Marysia PeszekMarysia Peszek
Marysia Peszek

This photo of Marysia says it all - Happy holidays and love to you all!!

6th December 2009

Hi there, Really enjoyed your blog. thanks for including me in your list of recipients. I'm going to Ecuador on the 14th of December for mostly birding in ecolodges but do have time in Quito. The one problem with birding is that there is such limited contact with people in the country. Do you think that I might meet any of your friends, if only for breakfast, just to have a more human Ecuadorian experience? (Plenty of avian contacts.) I am fluent in Spanish, lived in Mexico for 2 years, so non English speaking is no obstacle. Happy trails to both of you, vita rose
6th December 2009

Bernie's cousin???????
This is an exchange student AND Bernie's cousin? I must have forgotten that Bernie was part Polish....one of my best friends, here in Truckee, Hania, is Polish and just ret'd from visiting her family with her 2-yr-old daughter. I bet she has heard of this young artist.
7th December 2009

Hello there, gypsies!
I'm sooo jealous! I love Germany -- even though my toes turn blue at the very thought of a German Christmas Market! Ahh!--but the Gluswein makes up for that, doesn't it? Great that you visited Macki and Henk and saw Cockey! I miss them, too.
9th December 2009

Merry Christmas
Good to hear from you....Been thinking of a Europe trip. I have a week off in mid-march or the last two weeks in June. Any openings for a few days? Laurel may be going to Japan in July, so she won't be taking vacation with us!
26th December 2009

Kia Ora from NZ
Love reading your travel documentaries. We are recovering from a quiet Christmas Day in sunny weather. Went to the beach this morning about an hour away, for Rebecca to have a (short) swim. It was very windy and our picnic plates kept blowing off the table much to our amusement! Wishing you all a happy holiday break, The Mobberleys

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