Saturday, June 04, 2016

It took a Trump candidacy for my German-Jew father to finally break his silence

ThomasNYharbor

(My father as he arrived in New York from Germany, April, 1952.)

Long-time readers of my blog will remember my father from this post, in which he shared some of his experiences and documents from WWII with his grandchildren. He has always been extremely private and protective about his past, writing prolifically for family, but never willing to share beyond those he knows.

Until now.

He’s almost 88 now, but my father has finally broken his silence. This is what it took – this Trump candidacy for president of the United States -- for my father to agree to speak up publicly.

In what is a huge move for him, Dad agreed to send a letter to the editor of his small town newspaper. I was able to convince him to send his letter to newspapers with slightly higher readership – like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Chicago Tribune.

But here it is on my little blog as well, posted with his permission – FINALLY! I hope it has an impact.

Please share, share, share!

Editor:

Being a Holocaust survivor, I am one of only a few people who, as a teenager of 15, was old enough to have experienced Hitler’s coming to power.  Now, as an old man, I am witnessing our current US situation.   I was a German citizen then and there, I am a US citizen here and now.  I cannot be quiet any longer; I must recall my memories.

If you hear the speeches now, just mentally substitute “Mexicans” and “Muslims” with “Jews,” and there you have Hitler in the 1930’s -- the same gestures, the same shouting, the same continuous referrals to himself.

A year or so after getting "emergency power,”  Germany -  once a democratic country - was no longer recognizable as a democracy.  Yes, FDR got a similar authority, but he was no Hitler!

“Trust me!” Hitler had said, and the Germans did.  They loved him for verbalizing the already-existent anti-Semitism, not unlike the feelings and fears that many Americans  have now about Mexicans and Muslims.

Hitler did not rise to power because “it had been built into the German DNA" (per Jochen  Bittner, NY Times 5/31/'16, article entitled "The West's Weimar Moment").   Hitler told us exactly what he was planning to do.  Hitler, too, told Germans to trust him.  He, too, knew precisely how to convince people, and how to win.

One of the first things the Nazis did was to get control of the press.  Now, we see the press being slammed and an ABC News reporter being called “a sleaze.” Watch it.  This is well beyond normal election talk.

Yes, there are real differences, but identical circumstances are not a requirement for being doomed to repeat history when we have chosen to ignore it.

Yours truly,

Thomas Heumann

 

I am going to visit my father in early July and am hopeful that he will allow me to “interview” him and post snippets to my blog. I truly believe that his memories, his message, and his voice – right now -- can have an important impact that could, at the very least, prompt some who have not been listening to take note.

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(My father and me. April, 2015)

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Make Me Move?

Zillow has a feature called Make Me Move whereby homeowners can pretend-list their property just to get an idea as to its marketability. With this hot Seattle market, Tom’s retirement getting ever closer (but not quite close enough), and with Suncadia/Tumble Creek feeling more like home every time we visit our property there, I am soooo tempted to post our house as a Make Me Move!

Tom’s right – it’s too soon. But nobody can tell me not to post a pretend Make Me Move on my own blog, right? So let’s pretend, shall we?

How about something like, “Natural light abounds inside and the soothing sounds of water and nature abound outside in this fully remodeled Cottage Lake home.

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A stone’s throw from the neighborhood elementary school and less than a mile from shopping, Cottage Lake Park, and the library, this Woodinville home is close to everything, yet feels like a secluded country retreat.

Sitting on just under an acre of land with an easily accessible three acre greenbelt just past the backyard…

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…there’s plenty of room for kids and animals to play while you relax on the south-facing deck (or in the hot tub!) just above the gorgeous water feature that includes a babbling brook and two small waterfalls, along with a patio and firepit perfect for summer marshmallow roasts.

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A large pegboard-lined shop with electricity is every DIYer’s dream…

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…while the garden shed offers even more outside storage.

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Inside you’ll find a wide-open, fully remodeled kitchen with skylight, featuring a gas stove, stainless steel appliances, soft-close, full-extend drawers, and beautiful custom cherry cabinets with slide-outs.

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The living area features 3/4” hardwood oak floors, huge cathedral windows and a riverrock (gas) fireplace with custom mantel and hearth.

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Just down the hall, you’ll find the newly remodeled full bath with travertine tile, double sinks, large skylight, and frameless glass shower surround.

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The master features a vaulted ceiling with two large skylights and an attached remodeled 3/4 bath.

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You’ll find two additional bedrooms upstairs.

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Downstairs, the large family room with custom river rock fireplace is perfect for family gatherings or for a cozy evening by the fire.

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Also downstairs are two bedrooms (though one must officially be called a “multi-use room, as it has no closet)…

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….and a 3/4 bathroom with laundry facilities, lots of storage, and separate entrance.

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The two car garage has automatic openers, lots of shelving for storage, and a workshop area.

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Woodinville offers top-rated schools, a strong community atmosphere, and over a hundred wineries, as well as breweries and distilleries for weekend outings with your out-of-town guests.”

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(I don’t think you can have video on the Make Me Move listings, but if you could I’d include the one my brother made with his drone that I included in this post.)

So, whatdya think? Would this pique your interest? When the time is right, do you think we’d have a buyer?

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How to introduce a new cat to existing cat(s). (Or “You may now call me a cat lady!”)

Two weeks ago I stopped by Homeward Pet to donate a cat bed – because, you know, even though we spend a small fortune on exquisite cat beds, they actually prefer BOXES.

Duh.

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(Oh, sweet, sweet Boo. May he rest in peace. Sniff.)

As I turned to walk out the door, I found myself asking whether I could “just take a peek” at the binder containing photos of cats currently up for adoption. It’s almost as if someone else spoke those words. Seriously, I had no such (conscious) plans…

And then THIS happened:

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And then this happened:

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Translation: “Can we keep him? Please?”

And then, the next day, THIS happened:

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Can you blame me?

See that closed door? Thanks to the detailed instructions, guidance, and support provided by Homeward Pet, we knew to keep that door closed for a good three to four days, at least. (And during those days we changed Fergus’ name to Archer - code name: Duchess… who knows where that’s from?!) During those days, Archer became comfortable in “his” room and Tom and I got to know him (and him, us) better.

What a sweetie!

Bailey, being of dim wit (our “special child”) barely noticed the new addition, and certainly didn’t care that there was a new kitty in the house. As long as Bailey can sleep in her customary locations, all is good with her world.

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But Simon, Mr. Alpha Cat, was a completely different story. Simon knew immediately! He just hung out outside Archer’s door, smelling and pacing and smelling some more – which is exactly what he should have been doing. Apparently, smell is the most important sense in the world of cat introductions.

On the third day, we allowed Simon into Archer’s room – while Archer explored the very kitty-laden smells of our bedroom. They never met during this shuffling, as we used our office as a “holding room” while moving each kitty into a new environment. We wanted them to get very used to each other’s smell before allowing them any face-to-face contact.

We’d been told that, although Archer had not previously lived with cats, he had lived with a large mastiff. Knowing that introductions to the dogs would likely be easier than introductions to the cats (or at least to Simon), I put Archer into the cat carrier (which I had left in his room and with which he had become comfortable) and I took him into the livingroom.

Once Archer saw the dogs, he just wanted OUT!

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Trepidaciously, I opened the zipper a bit, thinking he’d sniff and explore from the safety of the carrier. Instead, he immediately used his nose to open the zipper! He couldn’t get out to greet the dogs (and the house) fast enough! (The other cats were behind closed doors at this point.) Yup, Archer had most definitely lived with – and perhaps even ruled over – a big dog! Shasta really didn’t care about Archer at all, but Quinn fell deeply and madly in love right away!

From that point on, Quinn just had to be part of everything! She adores her new friend and wants to be with Archer at all times. It seemed to be mutual, so we just allowed them to be together as often as they both wanted – which was always.

At this point, it was time to allow Archer and Simon a glimpse of each other – a controlled glimpse.

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We cracked the door open just enough for the kitties to see each other. There was lots of curiousity, but no real aggression, other than a lazy hiss now and then. 

For the next day or two, this is as close to each other as we allowed Simon and Archer to get – and we made sure that these interactions were all very positive, with lots of treats and playing and petting for both cats, in view of each other.

Once it seemed that the cats were comfortable and even wanting more, I put Archer back into the carrier and brought him into the hall to “be” with Simon. Simon decided it was time to PLAY!

Progress?! Perhaps -- at poor Archer’s expense. But progress nonetheless. After this, Archer was pooped – and probably a bit overwhelmed!

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That night, we introduced both cats to THE best cat toy on the face of the earth: Da Bird. I was skeptical when the adoption counselor at Homeward Pet suggested we get this specific toy and no other, swearing it was by far the best “hunting” toy available for cats. But she was absolutely correct. It is, like she insisted, “cat crack”! Maybe it’s the construction that mimics a fly fishing lure, with the same spins and whirrs and bounces, but they LOVE this thing! I truly believe that this toy made kitty introductions 100% easier.

Tom took one Da Bird and I took the other and we gave Archer and Simon a long parallel play session, which they loved.

(Did you catch that Tom, being wiser than me, suggested that we “call it” while things were positive and comfortable for both kitties? We did, and it was probably a good idea.)

At this point, the cats seemed to tolerate, and even enjoy, each other enough to just hang for a bit together.

Supervised, of course.

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I swear, Archer could not figure out how one resident cat could be so fun and playful, while the other pretty much ignored him and just wants her spaaaaace.

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So here’s where we are now:

Simon and Archer have begun to play together – nicely, like this, for the most part. (I don’t count on Bailey ever playing with Archer. Just leave her alone and let her sleep, fergoodnesssake!)

We did have one set-back yesterday, when Simon cornered Archer, resulting in plenty of hissing and deep, loud meowing, along with an under-the-bed tussle, which freaked me out a bit. But no one got hurt and, I’d guess, a certain amount of posturing took place.

All three kitties have been asleep in the same room for hours today, almost two weeks after we adopted Archer. The slow introductions were well worth it and I believe that we are well on our way to having a harmonious menagerie around here.

Now if I hint at wanting another cat someday, please STOP ME – because four cats definitely does a cat lady make!

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