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House Activity

March 28 , 2007

Written May 17

Dear Friends and Families,


This is one of those diaries that gets written when we clean out our cameras. There's nothing earth-shaking, but we just see some events or activities that we need to remember, for our own sake, not for you friends and relatives. Nonetheless, you get to kibitz because we have no easy way to warn you off of such boring material, other than this intro.

Marianne is thoroughly enjoying being retired. This enables her to take some of those classes she's had to pass on before, when work always intruded.

For example, the local Volkshochschule (adult education school) offered a one-evening course in book binding. It was held at a local bindery and, of course, conducted all in German. Consequently, Marianne managed to get two nice books for pictures and a language lesson.


Meanwhile, Marianne is also taking painting classes from a local artist. The first session was a weekend course, from Friday evening through Sunday, and covered painting with both brushes and fingers. The finger part looks fun!

By the end of the weekend, we had a new Rose picture and a scene of a crowd of Martians.


Our old house project has diverted into old furniture. Mr. Schlicht, our lock-restorer extraordiaire, has a barn full of old furniture. Sometimes, he's even willing to sell a piece or two, although clearly he prefers to keep his treasures and just get paid for restoring something we find on our own.

Nevertheless, he had shown us the collection of restored trunks he keeps in his house, and had hinted that we could buy one. We took him up on the hint, and bought this old wedding trunk, dated 1791. Much of it is original, although the top had to be repainted and there are pieces of wood inserted where the original had been destroyed by worms or wear or just old age. Schlicht is proud of his practice of repairing using old wood, and repainting using home-made paints, created with centuries-old techniques.


We were so happy with the 1791 trunk that we asked if he had any old "schranks" or wardrobes that he might part with. He led us on a tour of the loft in his barn and showed us several. Eventually, we settled on a blue piece, dated 1776, that he had owned for almost twenty years. He said it was in excellent condition, but we needed faith in his skills to believe that.

A few weeks later, on the day before Marianne and I were leaving for a month in the States, Mr. Schlicht called to say the schrank was ready. He insisted we come over to see it. As always, his skills had prevailed, and even the new parts looked authentic. The details struck just the right balance of restored, but not TOO restored.

I suggested we leave the schrank in his shop until we returned from America, but our craftsman would have none of that. He said that if the schrank stayed with him that long, it would be impossible to give it up. Consequently, we dismantled the wardrobe and loaded it into his red VW van.

At home, he and I carried the (HEAVY) pieces up our spiral staircase, damaging neither the furniture nor the walls, a minor miracle. A half-hour of fitting together the pieces, and our old trunk had an even older schrank as companion.

Footnote: In the attention to detail category, we've discovered that the replacement wood in the crown of the schrank was old enough to be home to woodworms. I just finished the third pass with poison injections and I hope that does it. There is only so much authenticity that we can handle.

Other than this, it's been normal at work and normal at home. We were looking forward to the blossoming of out fruit orchard, but it turned out that we would not see the annual show. My boss had asked me to visit the home office in Lynchburg, Virginia, for the month of April, and that's what we did. Details to follow.


John and Marianne.


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