Saturday, October 29, 2011

A golden Golden Gate day

Aleks and I flew to the Bay Area yesterday for what was supposed to be a big family get-together with my dad to discuss his book and the possibility of publishing it.  Obviously, with Dad in the hospital after open-heart surgery (which went relatively well), that’s not happening as planned.  But Dad insisted that we still all get together so Aleks (a political science major and very passionate about Opa’s book for a variety of reasons) and I kept our tickets and flew from rainy Seattle to Sunny San Francisco yesterday.


My brother and sister-in-law picked us up at the Embarcadero BART station and after a quick lunch in Chinatown, we spent the rest of the afternoon admiring the Golden Gate Bridge (and the City, if you turned your head) from far and near. 



It’s had living so far away at times like this.  If my whole family were here, all 11 cousins would be together.  As it is, Aleks will meet his 5-year-old cousin TJ today for the very first time.  That’s just not right!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My father's heart

Remember this video I took of my dad and his soon-to-be wife, Lou, playing a mean game of ping-pong EXACTLY three years ago today?

Well, Dad's heart isn't playing ping-pong these days. In fact, for about an hour and a half today, Dad's heart won't be pumping at all. Instead, it's (literally) being put into the capable hands of a heart surgeon who, through multiple bypass surgery, will attempt to bring oxygen back into this heart that, as of last week, was "days, not weeks" from stopping altogether.

I have never, ever heard Dad admit to being scared of anything.  But last night, when I called him to wish him well (and he was stressing over an unbalanced checkbook -- grrrrr!), he told me that he was scared -- and who wouldn't be?  Dad has never had surgery or been in the hospital for more than relatively routine procedures, so this is new for him.

I'm not the praying sort, though at times like this I envy those who are.  The most I can do today is think positive thoughts, fill my own heart and mind with the love I feel for my daddy, and trust that the universe is working exactly as it should.  Your positive thoughts, in whatever form they work for you, are welcome as well.

I love you, Dad.  I trust your heart, just like I always have.  Everything will be fine.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In the Pacific Northwest, moss always wins

Dear hubby,

It seems that you might have won a battle or two but you have definitely lost the war. 

You simply can’t fight moss in the Pacific Northwest and expect to win.  A lawn?  You want a LAWN?  I think your “lawn” wants to be moss.


OK, I agree that one COULD take a gestalt view of all this and conclude that our backyard looks like lawn…


“Oh, what a lovely backyard lawn!” someone might say, when they’re looking at our backyard from a distant vantage point.

But when you look closely, you really have to admit…


…that our yard wants to be moss.  It’s begging to be moss! 

Lush, bright green, needs-no-mowing, fends-for-itself MOSS!

What do you say, Mr. Environmental Engineer?  Can we wave the white hanky and surrender?

(Quinn would like to remind you that it’s Be Kind to Moss week month year.)



Your defeated wife (and diggy dog)

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A quick Autumn walk around Cottage Lake Park

As I was headed home from doing a few errands in town, I passed Cottage Lake Park – something I do nearly every day.  But today I couldn’t help but pull into the park’s lot, take my camera out of my purse, and shoot a few quick photos.  Oh, how I wish I’d had Kat’s Nikon D-40 with me! 

These pictures just don’t do the Fall colors justice.


Just look at that blue sky!



Then I came home to this:


There’s no mystery.  This perfect angel didn’t do it:


This little bitch did:


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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Quinn vs the (almost) empty dog food bag

What’s she so scared of??

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

English muffin breakfast casserole

Help! I have a new kitchen and I can’t stop baking and cooking!

I have never really been the domestic, live-in-the-kitchen type goddess (nor have I ever been any other type of goddess), so this recent urge to cook and bake is really beginning to baffle – and concern – me.  Not only is this not good for my already disconcerting weight issues, but if I don’t stop this soon my family might begin to (gasp!) expect it.

That said, I had a significant surplus of English muffins hanging out in the bread box lately and, being a lazy Saturday morning, it was time to finally do something about it.


Since one of the half-used bags of muffins were the cinnamon raisin variety, I decided to make a tasty breakfast casserole.  I had no idea how I was going to go about this, but figured that the first step was certainly to toast them.


While they were toasting, I beat together

  • 8 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup flavored coffee creamer (Only because I had it around and it sounded good.  You can also use 3 cups of milk.)
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • a dash of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Then I beat this whole mixture together for about 5 minutes…


…while I tore up the English muffins and placed them at the bottom of a 13 x 9” Pam-sprayed casserole dish.  (It turns out that I needed an 8 x 8 pan too.  This makes a lot of casserole!) Then I covered the muffins with the egg mixture…


…dabbed on some butter and cinnamon…  (But remember that I lined the dishes with Pam instead of butter, so we’re still good -- right?!  Pffffft!)IMG_0771

…and let it all sit for about 10 minutes before popping it all into the 350 degree pre-heated oven. 


Oh look!  There at the back of the stove (because a certain un-named puppy has been known to steal food off the counters… do you want her?) are the last of the oatmeal raisin cookies I made last night when Aleks came home.  I’m telling you, all this cooking and baking is becoming a problem. 

Dang new kitchen


I’m surprised that the luscious smell coming from the kitchen right now hasn’t roused Tom or Aleks from their Saturday morning slumber – or beckoned Kat home from visiting Portland, Peter home from visiting Leavenworth, or even Elisabeth home from Seattle – because it really does smell heavenly!

Ooooh!  They’re almost done! 


Hmmm… something must be wrong.  Breakfast is finished, coffee is hot, and certain guys are still sleeping!



I better go make sure they’re still breathing.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

German citizenship: 70 years to full-circle

My grandfather was a German Jew.  Because he had converted to Christianity in his youth and married a non-Jew, he believed, at least in the beginning, that his Jewishness was a non-issue.  He was wrong, of course. 

Beginning in the 1930’s, my grandfather was officially identified as a Jew by the German government (see ID below with the “J” to identify him as a Jew) and his independence and his livelihood were slowly taken away from him.  He was forced to relinquish his position as vice-president of a prominent bank and then was forced to sequentially give up small but significant rights – such as the right to own a telephone.

Carl aussweiss - name blurred

My father, the child of a Jew and a non-Jew and the product of what was known as a “privileged mixed marriage” was, according to the very detailed and specific Nuremburg Laws, dubbed a “mischling ersten grades,” or “mixed breed of the first degree.”  He was forced to resign from school and be taught by other persecuted Jews (which, it turns out, led to an excellent education) and, unlike most of his peers, he was not “allowed” to join the Hitler Youth – which at the time, was hard for a young teen who wanted to be accepted.

There’s so much more to tell, and my father has been writing about it all for years, but he doesn’t want me to share details on the internet, so to respect his wishes I will be vague -- except to say that, because of my grandfather’s and my father’s experiences in Germany during World War II, my children and I will likely have the option to obtain German citizenship, and my father can very likely have his own German citizenship reinstated.  None of us would have to revoke our American citizenship; instead, we would all have dual citizenship.

The application for German citizenship/naturalization is complicated, with very specific requirements and requiring many qualifying documents (which, fortunately, my father has) and other information.  I have been in the process of preparing these applications for a few months now and I’ve been working with my father to gather the many required documents that prove the lineage and the persecution of the family under the Nazi regime.  

A primary impetus to head down this road is Aleks’ strong desire to work and live in Germany or elsewhere in the EU.  He’ll graduate from the University of Washington next June with a degree in International Relations and minors in history and political science.  He then wants to go on to earn an Erasmus Mundes master’s degree in European Economy, State & Society (the IMESS program), so having German citizenship would help greatly for his ability to work and live in Europe.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Aleks “brings the family back” to Germany after two generations in the US!

Peter, too, has entertained the idea of working and living internationally – possibly in Australia – and he’s been told that having an EU passport would help his chances immensely.  So there’s that, too.

And yes, there’s just a small twinkle in my head and heart called Ruhpolding, my favorite place on earth.  Is it possible that perhaps Tom and I could retire, at least part-time, there?  I don’t know, but having options is a good thing.

And you never know when radical politics and insane leadership could drive people from a country that they’ve loved since they could remember and would never consider leaving… until the unthinkable happens.  Ah yes – full circle.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rosenthal “Maria Weiss” dishes and memories of my mother

I miss my mother every day but today, nearly eight years after her death, I miss her a lot.


Omiandme72Omi and Carol Xmas 01Abrighter

Today was the day when I finally fully inherited Mom’s Rosenthal Maria Weiss dishes.  I rarely saw these dishes on a table when I was growing up because they were used for only the very fanciest of occasions.  But I often admired them as they sat on the shelf in the built-in hutch of the dining room in our turn-of-the-century Berkeley home.  I wish I had a photo of Mom’s Rosenthal dishes in use during my childhood.  It would almost certainly have been taken during a Bavarian Christmas Eve dinner (a tradition I still continue with my family today), weisswurst and kartoffelsalat on the beautiful white hexagonal plates, and eager children, ready to eat quickly because we knew that presents would be next. 

After Mom’s death, Dad packed up all the Rosenthal and called to let me know that Mom had wanted me to have the set. I was thrilled, but knew that there was no way they would fit into our small, already-stuffed kitchen.  But we have a new, larger kitchen now, and today I finally brought Mom’s Rosenthal from the wardrobe in the garage where they’d been stored for so many years…


…into the new kitchen, where I carefully unwrapped each delicately wrapped dish…


…and laid it on the dining room table. 


In the box with the dishes was a brochure written in German, which I had picked up in a Rosenthal store in Munchen when Mom and I went to Germany together in 2001.


I couldn’t help thinking how much Mom would have liked helping me – and how much I would have loved for her to be be there.  (Which is silly because if she were still alive the dishes wouldn’t be at my house!)

Some pieces brought back such powerful memories of my mother – her voice, her touch, her smell.  Maybe she was with me after all… somehow. 

What is this piece?


It’s the stunningly beautiful coffee pot!  I absolutely love this piece!


I remember when a coffee cup chipped and Dad painstakingly fixed it, so careful to glue each tiny piece back onto the cup.  It never looked quite right again, but it had become the “special” cup.


Every so often, stores like TK Maxx would sell Rosenthal knock-offs and both Mom and I would grab them up, almost as if they were as much a treasure as the originals.  But really, no way!


This is the insignia of the true treasure:


I’m not even sure what this is:


Something to use at afternoon tea, perhaps?

Look at these itty-bitty espresso cups, just an inch or two high:


Eventually, all the pieces had been unwrapped and placed on the table.


This is by no means a full set.  There are missing dinner plates, extra cups, and partial sets.

This lid, for example…


…belongs to a butter dish that was broken by an un-named grandchild not so very long ago.  Maybe I can find just the missing piece somewhere on the internet.

butter dish circled

When we were designing our kitchen, I specified glass-doored cabinets specifically with Mom’s Rosenthal in mind.  And look!


I’m not sure how much we’ll use these dishes, but I feel better just finally having them out of the box and in our home.  I think Mom would have preferred this, too. 

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