Friday, September 10, 2021

Making sure these photos and videos of Leo are saved in perpetuity

Leo is now 2 years, 3 months old. He is so much fun and just cuter than cute! I just need to make sure these photos and videos are saved forever, so here they are! 

Here’s Leo singing the ABCs at just about exactly two years old. 

I met Courtney Campbell many, many years ago when I worked at Disney and she entertained young children all around the world. Our kids were so lucky to get some amazing “personal concerts” when they were young and now our grandson has fallen in love with Courtney, as well. A few weeks ago, when Leo and Courtney were together at our house, Courtney sang this dinosaur song for Leo. He adored it so much that Courtney recorded a quick video for him to watch from home. He apparently plays it over and over and over. ♥️♥️ Here is Courtney’s recording and Leo’s reaction to it. I just love his “Uh-oh Kootney!” (Leo’s about two years, 2 months here.)

And then there’s Leo’s first introduction to chocolate milk (at 2 yrs 3 months)!

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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Carl, Thomas, and I are featured guests for the Third International Day of Provenance Research, 2021!

A few weeks ago I was interviewed for the International Day of Provenance Research which highlights the social and academic relevance of provenance research on an international scale. In that interview, I spoke about my father, Thomas and my grandfather Carl, whose art collection is still quite relevant today.

The article( in German), along with the audio file of my interview (in English) can be found HERE:

Here is an English translation (with thanks to Google Translate and apologies to my mother, your great-Omi, who was a dedicated German teacher and is turning in her grave; she would have asked me to translate it myself! Apologies, too, for the bizarre formatting – attempting to fix it just made it all worse!):

LIVING MEMORY - The art collector Carl Heumann and his family today. A conversation with Carl’s granddaughter, Carol Heumann Snider

Several German museums are currently researching the art collector Carl Heumann (1886–1945), who created an important collection of German and Austrian art from the 18th and 19th centuries with a focus on Romanticism in the 1920s and 1930s. Because of his Jewish origins, he was persecuted under the National Socialist regime. In recognition of the fate of his persecution, the Kupferstich-Kabinett of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz in Berlin and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München turned to the descendants of Carl Heumann to jointly find a just and fair solution regarding the Find works of art from his collection.

In a conversation on the "Day of Provenance Research" on April 14, 2021 with provenance researchers Dr. Katja Lindenau (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden) and Melanie Wittchow (Lenbachhaus) Carol Heumann Snider, the granddaughter of the art collector Carl Heumann, discusses her grandfather and her father Thomas Heumann. She describes how she preserves the stories of the two of them and their memories for their children and grandchildren. She gives a deep insight into the life of her family and shows how the fate of both ancestors affects all family members to this day and what possible restitutions mean to them.

The interview was conducted in English on March 19, 2021, the 135th birthday of Carl Heumann, recorded and reproduced here in written form in German. You can listen to the original interview here:

(Go to original link, above, and click on the audio file.)

Melanie Wittchow (MW): Hello and welcome to our conversation "Living memories: The art collector Carl Heumann and his family today.” My name is Melanie Wittchow. I am a provenance researcher at the Lenbachhaus in Munich.

Since 2019, we have recognized Provenance Research Day on the second Wednesday in April. This year we are also celebrating »1700 years of Jewish life in Germany«. On this occasion, we would like to talk about how provenance research helps keep memories alive.

We warmly welcome Carol Heumann Snider to this interview. She is the granddaughter of the art collector Carl Heumann from Chemnitz, Germany. We want to talk about him and his family today. Carol, thank you for joining us from Gig Harbor, Washington, USA. It's so nice to have you here today!

A warm welcome also to Katja Lindenau. She is a provenance researcher at the Kupferstich-Kabinett of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. I am very pleased that you are here today for our conversation about the art collector Carl Heumann.

More than two years ago, the museum in Dresden, together with the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and the Hamburger Kunsthalle, called on those museums whose holdings include objects from the Carl Heumann art collection to recognize the fate of the art collector and his family and to work with the heirs of the family to get in touch. The aim is to find just and fair solutions with them regarding the works of art from the Carl Heumann collection.

Katja, you are one of the researchers in Germany who initiated this. Can you explain how and why it came about?


Zoom screenshot

(The participants in the conversation on March 19, 2021 clockwise from top left to bottom right: Robin Knapp (technical support), Dr. Katja Lindenau (SKD), Carol Heumann Snider (granddaughter of Carl Heumann), Melanie Wittchow (Lenbachhaus)

Katja Lindenau (KL): With pleasure. In my work as a provenance researcher, I check the holdings of our museum for unlawful acquisition. One focus is on the years 1933 to 1945, when the National Socialists were in power in Germany and many works of art changed hands during this time. Much of it has been confiscated by the authorities or the owners have been forced to sell them. A few years ago, colleagues from other museums in Germany and Austria made me aware of the collection of the art collector and patron Carl Heumann.

While looking through our collection, I found two watercolor drawings by the Austrian artist Peter Fendi and an oil-on-paper drawing by Jakob Gensler showing a girl with a parrot. All three works were bought in 1944 by the art dealer C.G. Acquired Boerner in Leipzig. Bit by bit, I tried to find out more about the fate of the previous owner and how these works of art disappeared from his collection. In the end, we knew that Carl Heumann had not voluntarily sold these works, due to his Jewish origins, and we began to contact other museums and the heirs of Carl Heumann.

Restituted art1

MW: That's how Katja and I came into contact, and I was able to find out that the Lenbachhaus had also acquired a work of art from Carl Heumann's private collection, namely the drawing "Fischerweide" by the artist Albert Emil Kirchner.


Albert Emil Kirchner, Fischerweide, 1854, pencil drawing, washed, 30.5 x 28.7 cm, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus and Kunstbau Munich

KL: Carol, we spent months trying to put Carl Heumann's biography together. How and when did you find out about the fate of your grandfather Carl Heumann and your father Thomas Heumann? Did you talk about it in your family?

Carol Heumann Snider (CHS): When I was a child, we talked about my father's childhood. Since it was such a traumatic childhood, I think my father tried to protect us from the trauma he experienced himself. Paintings and watercolors hung on our walls. We knew where they came from. We knew that they came from his father, whom we of course never met. But we didn't know what my father was feeling and thought we just knew that they were from his homeland. Briefly about the background: It was obvious that my parents were immigrants. I knew my father was talking about a suitcase that he had with him when he came to the United States on the ship.

When we talked about his childhood it was mostly in situations where he couldn't escape us, and by that I mean, we were sitting in the car going to Lake Tahoe, for example, which was a four hour drive. We asked him to tell us stories. And he told us these charming stories, like when he and his brother nearly blew up the garage because they had misused their chemistry kit. Or how her little sister took a nap and they took a gingerbread cookie out of the oven and they said, "Oh, we burned your doll." I mean really funny little stories like these that every sibling does would tell.

But he never said, "I went and found my father's body and dug his grave."

These were things that we didn't find out until much later. It only started when I was going to college and my father suddenly felt the need to tell us more. He began to write his first book The Longest Year in the Young Life of Peter Bauer. I think it was easier for him to talk about his trauma in the third person and give himself a pseudonym so as not to have to use the pronoun "I.”.

Most of my childhood he just wanted to protect us. But that changed later.

Thomas and his kids

Thomas Heumann with his four children, Carol Heumann Snider in the middle, 2008, photo: Ulli Heumann Hanley

MW: Can you tell us when and how you first found out that works of art from your grandfather's collection are in Austrian and German museums? How did the collaboration with the provenance researchers develop?

Maybe you can tell us a little bit about Julia Eßl's visit to the USA in 2014?

CSH: Yes, it was a very special day. I think it was January 22nd, 2014. I won't forget it. I woke up, checked my e-mail, and there was a message from a woman named Julia Eßl.She said she was a provenance researcher in Austria and she thinks she had found some works from my grandfather's collection, and asked if I would be willing to speak to her. It was very exciting for me because I had never met my grandfather and only heard stories about him. And now here was someone who seemed to know something about him. So, as a granddaughter interested in her family history, I picked it up straight away.

This was also preceded by a meeting that my father had organized for our family, at which he came into contact with his children, his nieces, his nephews and of course his sister Ulli, who lives in California. He wanted us all to come together because he wanted to leave us things from his past, as he put it "with warm hands,” before he dies.

Thomas Ulli and fams

(Thomas Heumann (left outside) with his sister Ulli (3rd from left) and her family, February 2017, Photo: Claudia Bilbao (Ulli's daughter)

CHS: Among them were some official documents such as my grandfather's Jewish “ID card” and his identity card with the “J” on it. Or a document that said he had been persecuted and that he had been in a labor camp.

He passed all these things on to his family members. It was just amazing to me, it really touched me, and I wanted to know who this person was.

So that was before Julia's email. When this email came my family was planning a trip to Germany and Austria. All six of us - we have four children.

And I said to Julia that we would be in Austria in a few months and asked if we could meet.

The most important thing that stuck in my memory when I met Julia Eßl in the Albertina in Vienna was that she took me to her office and there were three or four very wide binders on a bookshelf with "Carl Heumann" on the spine.

My first thought was, "How is it possible that someone, whom I don't know, knows my grandfather so well that entire binders can be filled with information about him?"

That just aroused the curiosity and excitement regarding my grandfather between Julia and me. We got along really well and became fast friends. After our visit in Vienna, she wrote to me and asked: “What do you think about a visit from me? And that was just the beginning of an absolutely wonderful time.”

When Julia first contacted me and said she had the opportunity to come to America, my father blocked it. But then he gave in and said, "Okay, well, I'll talk to her."

Julia came and spent three or four days with my father. They were best friends. My father couldn't show her enough things. He found a document here and another document there, they spoke German and they became dear, dear friends. When it was time for her to leave there were tears everywhere, including my father. So it was a 180 degree turn.

KL: Thank you, Carol, for this lively report on Julia Eßl's visit and the relationship between Julia and you and your father. We are both very grateful to Julia Eßl in Vienna and Hanna Strzoda in Berlin, who did a lot of research and thankfully shared their findings with us.

At the moment, three museums in Berlin, Dresden and Munich want to return works of art in the near future. Carol, you are the representative of the heirs. That means you speak for all the rightful heirs of your grandfather and regulate the communication between the members of your family and the museums regarding the restitution process. Can you tell us a little bit about what it means for your family to get back the works of art that were confiscated from your grandfather 80 years ago through persecution? We are particularly interested in what the younger generation thinks about it.

CHS: That's a really good question. In fact, as a family, we are grappling with this issue. First of all, the fact that part of the art is being restituted means everything to us because of our connection to our grandfather. This is a man we have never known, but whom we have heard of all our lives. My father spoke of him with great reverence and instilled that in us too, so we knew Carl was a wonderful man. We were sad that we didn't get to know him. This little thread of a connection from Carl to his grandchildren, to his great-grandchildren, means everything to us.

Restitution is a strange thing because it has this very strong emotional aspect. Then there is this logistical aspect. There may also be a financial aspect that we don't want to emphasize at all. But it always finds a way in.

I was the executor of my father's estate, which means that after his death, I took care of everything related to his estate. So I became the main point of contact. I brought his direct descendants, that is six people in the direct line, together. That's a very manageable amount of people to work with. But if you add the next generation, with all of our children, that number goes up to 23. So we kept it pretty small and made decisions together. We met digitally last year, but before that we visited each other.

 Thomas with grandchildren

(Thomas Heumann with Carol Heumann Snider's four children, 2012, photo: Carol Snider Heumann)

CHS: About two weeks ago my 30-year-old son came to visit. He is very interested in history and speaks fluent German. He asked how everything was going and I said, “Well, there are some pieces that are being returned to us and we'd like some of them because we'd like to see them on our walls. We would like to see others stay in Germany so that they can be appreciated by the people there. And maybe we want to sell one or two of them. We do not know yet."

My son, who is a very strong personality, replied, “Mom, I would like to be asked to come to the table when these things are discussed. I am also a heir to Carl. He's important to me too, and I think I'm speaking for my cousins ​​when I say please don't make any decisions without us. "

Right now our challenge is how to deal with this issue. How can we respect the opinion of our adult children without turning it into a crazy situation? Perhaps we will talk to our children each time, get their opinion, and come back with a general opinion for our family. It's really important for us to include everyone, but it's not easy. This is where we are right now.

MW: Let's go back to your two blogs that you mentioned earlier. I always love it when someone says it's important to keep memories alive. But you're not just saying that, you're living this idea.

In your two blogs "Northwestladybug" and "Letters from Omi" you tell the story of your grandfather and your father. I especially like your blog Letters from Omi because I love the idea that the blog is aimed at your grandchildren. Each contribution begins with "Dear Grandchildren" and then you tell about family members who, of course, have never met them. This is a great thing to keep memories for the future.

Let's go back to the past one more time. Your grandfather, Carl Heumann was born on March 19, 1886 in Cologne to Jewish parents. He converted to Protestantism in 1917 when he met and married your grandmother,Irmgard, who was a Protestant. Nevertheless, Carl Heumann was regarded by the Nazis as a ”full Jew.” At first he was protected by his so-called privileged mixed marriage, but in 1938 he lost his job in his own bank, he had to pay the "Jewish property tax," and was not allowed to manage his own financial affairs. In short, he was persecuted by the National Socialist system. After the death of his wife  in January 1944, he was even more vulnerable. Tragically, he was killed in the bomb attack on Chemnitz on March 5, 1945.

Heumanns c 1938

(Carl Heumann (middle) with his wife Irmgard and the children Thomas (left outside), Ulli (middle) and Rainer (right outside) in the Reichsstraße in Chemnitz, around 1940, anonym)

MW: Your father, Thomas Heumann, survived the Second World War. He left Germany in 1953 and went to the USA. He was also persecuted under National Socialism because of his status as a “Mischling, a so-called half-Jew.

Many Jewish people do not consider themselves religious, but define themselves by their Jewish origin. Can you tell us what role your Jewish origins played in your father's life? Are there any Jewish traditions or rituals that have been kept alive in your family to this day?

CHS: To be honest, I wish they existed. It's kind of strange for me to be the descendant of someone for whom his Jewish heritage played such a tragic role. It didn't kill him directly, but in some ways everything changed for my grandfather because of his Judaism.

When I was a child, I wanted to have a menorah for Christmas. We had one, but there was nothing behind it. Perhaps my father could have made some of the Jewish heritage his own. I think he could have done more research on his Jewish heritage and shared some of it with his children. But maybe I'm too hard on my dad because I think he had a great trauma and I think when he came to the US he wanted to leave it all behind. So the short answer is no. We celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. We never really celebrated anything related to Jewish heritage.

MW: Thank you Carol for giving us these insights into your family history. That’s so valuable. In our work as provenance researchers, it is wonderful to come into contact with the families and the heirs of the works of art. It is such a pleasant working relationship with you and your family. Thank you very much.

CHS: Thank you very much too! I really like working with both of you and everyone who has contacted us. If we can travel again, we would like to come to Germany, and it would be wonderful to meet everyone in person.

MW / KL: Yes, we'd love that too.

KL: I would also like to thank you, Carol, for your continued support in this very long process of research and restitution.

Through the posts in your blog, we got to know you and your family very well and also learned a lot more about Carl Heumann. But as I said, without the support of the other provenance researchers we would not have come this far, so once again a big thank you to the others who have supported us.

CHS: Yes, also from me. You have all been absolutely wonderful and some friendships have formed.

I would like to tell about another friendship. There was a man named Waldemar Ballerstedt in Chemnitz, who we think could have been a protector of my grandfather. You can read about it on my blog.

His grandson's wife just emailed me - I recently had an operation and she wrote to me, "Carol, we're thinking of you, get well."

So two or three generations later, there is a friendship between the descendants of a Nazi, who may have been my grandfather's protectorate, and the descendants of a persecuted German Jew.

It's just so heartwarming to me that we can forgive, forget and move on.

MW: Yes, that's great to hear. Really very touching.

KL: Nice! Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

CHS: I would like to tell you one more story.

I have a grandson, Leo, who is almost two years old. When he was very young, we showed him the picture of Sophia, a painting by Joseph Hauber from my grandfather's collection that had hung in my childhood home, and then in my parents’ houses, until my father’s death in 2017.

Leo and Sophia

(Leo, the great-great-grandson of Carl Heumann in front of the painting "Sophia" from the Carl Heumann Collection, Chemnitz, 2021, photo: Carol Heumann Snider)

CHS: Leo looked at the picture and waved when he was just eight months old. It then became a tradition that when he slept in our house and woke up in the morning, the first thing he wanted to do was to say good morning to Sophia. And in the evening he insisted on saying good night to Sophia.

When Leo comes to visit now, the first thing he does is go to Sophia to say hello. To me, it's just the essence of everything we try to do to keep Carl's memory and story alive for future generations. Just seeing Leo look up while Sophia looks down at him - there is just this love bond that I can't explain. But the first few times it happened, I teared up. In my will, I will state that my grandson Leo gets the picture of Sophia so that he can have it on his walls when he grows up.

MW: Thank you for this wonderful story.










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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

I’m getting rid of my boobs before they get rid of me

March 3rd. A week from today. Disappointed smile

That’s the day that my currently healthy boobs will take leave of my body. I’m still in disbelief that I’m about to do this, and I have the urge every day to cancel the upcoming surgery. But I know that logically I’m doing the smartest thing, hard as it is emotionally, and as hard as the surgery will be physically.

I was born with the BRCA2 gene mutation (which I blogged about last year, after I found out about it). Instead of a 3-ish% lifetime chance of getting breast cancer, I was born with about an 80-ish% chance of developing breast cancer in my lifetime. (Think Angelina Jolie, who was also born with a BRCA gene mutation and had a prophylactic mastectomy.)

Mast cartoon,

So far, my mammograms and recent breast MRIs have been clear, but it’s likely just a matter of time before I’d be faced with a breast cancer diagnosis. And if that were the case, I’d have to go through this surgery AND chemo/radiation. No thanks!

I’m 64. That means a few things in regard to my mastectomy situation.

One, I’ve already worked through a big chunk of that 80+% chance of getting breast cancer, so my chance at this point is about 35%. I go back and forth, from thinking that 35% is perfectly tolerable and I should just take the risk, to ‘no way; that’s still a huge chance of breast cancer,’ and back again. Round and round and round. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting!

Two, I’ll be starting Medicare on November 1st of this year, the month in which I’ll turn 65. I was hoping that Medicare would be optional, but for me, it’s not. On the day that I’m eligible for Medicare, my other coverage is hugely affected. Long story short, I will be starting Medicare on November 1st of this year and MEDICARE WON’T COVER PREVENTATIVE SURGERIES. Nope, they want to wait until you actually get cancer, and only THEN would a mastectomy be covered! Yes, this is insane, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

So my hands (or rather, my boobs) have been forced. If I’m gonna do this, I need to do it now. The reconstruction process involves numerous surgeries, so I need to allow time for all this to happen before I begin Medicare.

There are three basic options after a mastectomy – “going flat,” flap reconstruction (which is harvesting fat from other locations on the body and transferring it to the breast… a very long and complicated microsurgery with a long, complex recovery), and implants. Because of my abdominoplasty thirty years ago to repair damage from my twin pregnancy, I’m not a candidate for the most common (DIEP) flap reconstruction and, although I’ve considered it, I’ve decided not to “go flat.” That leaves “gummy bear” silicone implants. This is the one I explored during my appointment with the plastic surgeon. I kinda like the shape, and the smaller size!


It’ll be months, though, before the gummy will be in my body. Expanders will be placed next week during the mastectomy surgery, and then those will be filled a bit at a time over the next couple of weeks, until I’m at my desired size (smaller). At that point, I’ll undergo an additional (“exchange”) surgery to replace the expanders (which I hear are awful) with the final gummy implants. Fun. (Not.)

Kat’s wedding will take place on May the fourth (of course, Star Wars fans that she and Ian are!) and will be off the grid at Danny’s prospecting claims, where they got engaged (including a very bumpy dirt road – gah!) in California, so we’ll need to work that into the scheduling.

Am I ready? NO. But I don’t know how I ever can really be ready to basically amputate a body part that’s integral to who I am. I’ve chosen to look at it this way: my boobs have nourished four healthy children and have served me well. Now they are trying to (or will likely try to) kill me and they need to go. That’s my logical approach, anyway.

My not-so-logical approach consists of feelings of sadness, loss, and fear.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Preparing for a very Covid Christmas

2020 can’t end soon enough. What an absolutely craptastic year it’s been, ending in another solitary holiday for Tom and me.

Fortunately, all four of our children are happily partnered and cohabitating, some even with a new Covid puppy, so no one will be spending Christmas alone. THAT would be heartbreaking.

Just as we spent Thanksgiving alone, Tom and I will also be spending Christmas alone. It’s simply too dangerous now, with Covid numbers surging to unprecedented levels in every corner of the country, including our little upper left-hand corner. Vaccines are being distributed now, but only to frontline health workers. Shannon, a nurse at Virginia Mason, will receive her first dose on Christmas Eve and Elisabeth, a nurse anesthetist at UW will receive her first dose on December 30th. But we don’t know yet whether that vaccine also protects those the recipient comes in contact with. Until we know the answer to that question, we just can’t risk seeing our kids and their families without being masked and outside, where we can socially distance.

So that’s what we did last weekend! We met outside at Elisabeth and Danny’s new house in Sammamish. Our assumption was that we’d meet under their covered front porch (it is December in the Pacific Northwest, after all)…

(Look at the sky. This photo was NOT taken this month. Duh.)

But the weather cooperated and we were able to meet in the fenced  backyard. This was especially good news for the four dogs (two of them, puppies), as well as the one toddler in attendance.



Coincidentally-on-purpose, it was also someone’s “Medicare birthday”! How did that happen?! Tom and I met when we were barely 19 and 20. The thought back then of us ever actually being OLD was just… well, pretty unfathomable. And yet, here we are!


Something from “the olden days” is back, though. Tom had relatively long hair when we were dating…


I think he’s trying to relive his youth with what he calls his “Pandemic hair”! A little grayer and not as “coiffed,” but equally as handsome.


It was so good to see our kids with their significant others and fur babies!

Alex and Erin, with Misha…


…who loved the cold waterfall!


Peter and Shannon with (camouflaged) Masta-dor (Mastiff-Labrador) pupper, Chessa…


… who ran around acting like she was already 130 pounds and tall as a horse! (Give her another month or two…!)


And the Markus family, with Grace (who IS actually as tall as a small horse) and sweet Santa-Baby Leo…

IMG_7942…who I wanted so badly to snuggle! I mean, look at this adorable little Christmas elf!



Kat and Ian are quarantining at their home in San Francisco. The plan had been for them to drive up to Seattle in their new camper, but obviously that’s not gonna happen. Sad smile We were able to FaceTime with them, though which, for this year, will have to suffice. But oh, how I miss them! It might be that the next time we see them will be at their wedding!

This Covid fiasco has changed everything. Who would have thought that families who normally gather for the holidays would need to stay home? But I think there’s actually an upside to this Christmas celebration apart, at least for our family: each couple is going to be alone this year, freeing them to establish some tradition, big or small, that will persist long past the end of the pandemic, when they’ll remind each other, ‘Remember when this tradition began…?’

And that will have to suffice as the upside to a very Covid Christmas.

















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Saturday, November 28, 2020

A very Covid Thanksgiving

Anyone who knows us knows that Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday. It’s rare that we have fewer than 15 or 20 guests (a bunch of them as houseguests for the whole week!) and we cook and bake for days on end in anticipation of a house filled with great smells, happy conversation, and lots of holiday spirit.

Last year, for example, was epic:


This year’s Thanksgiving celebration was very different. With Covid numbers skyrocketing around the country, we made the heartbreaking decision not to gather at all this year. It just isn’t worth the risk. The news on vaccines is promising – if we can just hold out for the next few months, excruciating as it will be.

So it was just Tom and me on Thanksgiving. Very weird! But, actually, it was kind of nice, too. We have absolutely nothing to complain about (other than not being able to be with family, of course) and everything to be grateful for, so we decided to make the most of this very bizarre situation.

In the morning, we decided to head just a few miles north to Manchester State Park. The idea was to scope out some good campsites for spring, but we also enjoyed a nice walk around the park…




Who knew that there was such a great view of Seattle from the sleepy little town of Manchester?! Once that fast ferry to Seattle from Southworth begins this coming June, this area will explode!


Last week we decided that if we had to be alone for Thanksgiving, we might as well make the most of it, so we ordered take-out dinner from one of Gig Harbor’s nicest restaurants, Brix25. It was delicious – and clean-up was a breeze!




We weren’t alone, though, as each of our four kids and their partners checked in remotely…

Peter and Shannon


Alex and Erin


Kat and Ian


Elisabeth and Danny


…and then we all hopped on a Zoom call for a fun game of remote trivia. Tom and I actually didn’t feel alone at all, thanks to technology!

We’re so grateful that our kids are happy and healthy, riding out this bizarre pandemic with someone they love.

At this point, a traditional Christmas is looking very iffy and chances are good that we’ll be celebrating that holiday alone this year, too. We’ll take it day by day between now and then, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, and act accordingly when the time comes.

I can handle everything except Christmas Eve; being alone of Christmas Eve would break my heart.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2020

My father, a German half-Jew, discussing similarities between Trump and Hitler (July, 2016)

 Look what I came upon as I reviewed video conversations I had with my father during the years before he died, when he was finally willing to talk about his experiences as a half-Jew (a "mischling") in WWII Germany. 

Dad wrote prolifically about his experiences, but he insisted that his books and stories be only for family, never for people he didn't know. I begged him to publish his memoir, stressing the importance of his first-person voice during a time when those voices were growing quieter and quieter, while another voice - that of Donald Trump - was becoming louder and louder," but he refused, saying only, "You can tell my story when I'm gone" - which is becoming my life's work.

This video conversation with Dad, shot at his house in Ashland, Oregon in July, 2016, four months before Trump was elected and seven months before he died (I swear, Trump's election killed him), is chilling, prescient, and terrifying. 

As much as I miss him, I'm glad he's not alive to witness what's happening in our country. He totally called it.

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Tom does it again: A "gar-lodge" project almost two year in the making (and counting)

Back in late 2017, when we decided to scrap the idea of building in Suncadia and instead decided to move to Gig Harbor, we bought a house that kept coming up on Tom's Redfin searches, but never on mine.

Why? Because I checked that box that says "must have a garage" and Tom didn't.

Yep, we bought a house with no garage - and only one real closet! I knew storage space was going to be an issue, especially storage of Tom's massive collection of tools, machines, and other gizmos, but Tom had big plans - he was gonna build a workshop. 

As you probably know from Tom's previous projects in our Woodinville home, he does amazing work. He is truly a craftsman, but he is sloooow, methodical, and meticulous. So when he begins a major project I brace myself for the long haul - and I knew this project would take a while.

It began about a year and a half ago, in February, 2019. The idea was to create a workshop attached to and just behind the car port. The first step would be to grind down a huge stump that was in the way and to pour a large, deep slab. Fortunately, we hired both those tasks out.

Once the foundation was in, Tom's work began. I don't know the technical terms for everything he did, but I do know that these thingamabobs held some really heavy concrete blocks in place.

Once those blocks were in, "lodge" became the guiding word! Look at these heavy beams!

Next: the walls. For the walls, as well as for the roof, our dear friend Neal came to help Tom. Goodness knows, I was useless as a helper. 

See those three square boxes on the near wall in the above photo? Those will contain windows meant to mimic the three windows way up high on the house.
Before the roof could go on, Tom and Neal had to lay down more big, heavy, "lodgy" beams.

Of course, Tom insisted on the same green metal roof that we have on the house.

Tom's projects live in his mind. No real architectural plans, no formal drawings, nothing - so it was only at this point that I came to understand what his "gar-lodge" would ultimately look like. I loved how it was taking shape!

Being... well, me... I was focusing more on this. The mess-for-months-on-end in the carport was driving me nuts. 

Next step: every inside surface was covered with pegboard. This was to be, after all, a WORKSHOP! Tom was going to build a workbench, but then found some adjustable-height work tables. Brilliant! They're on wheels, so can be rolled pretty much anywhere, individually or together, for just about any project.

Finally, it was time to get stuff out of the carport and begin moving it into the workshop. I'm kind of ashamed to admit how excited I was about this milestone.

I just love some of the finishing touches and fixtures Tom insisted on!

Of course, Tom's attention to detail extends to outside the workshop, as well, including shingles all around. I love the little "swoosh" at the bottom of the shingles. Eventually, he'll install rock along the workshop foundation - and he's busy making a gorgeous wood and rock staircase right now.

 Eventually, Tom will make a set of shingled barn doors to close his workshop off from the carport. And you know by now that he has to do something special to those as well, right? It'll likely look something like this.

And you KNOW I love this!

Next project (because there always is one...): creating a new and improved entryway. 

Tom will work on the entryway (creative and fun) next summer at the same time that contractors will rebuild our deck (not creative and not fun). Our current deck is in desperate need of a facelift. Hell, it's in desperate need of a complete re-do!

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