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April , 2008

Written May 3, 2008

Dear Friends and Families,

Every once in awhile, we need to write a diary entry that just updates our own record, so we can look back a year from now (or a week) and say: "Oh yeah, that's what we were doing in ...". This is one of those diaries. Pretty boring, but at least now you are warned.

Around home, we still enjoy our small-town village. We noted the passing of our neighbor's barn. It was born in 1853, but now has been reduced to a pile of old beams. On one hand, we regret the disappearance of anything old, but we recognize one would need to be crazy to try to keep an old tumble-down barn, just because its' 150 years old. Around here, that is almost-new.

We improved our neighborhood by planting a few trees. The goal here is to block the view of the barn in the field behind our place. So far, these trees are sticks, so we'll need to be patient. Meanwhile, we'll enjoy the view out back, whether foggy or clear.

Marianne is staying busy in her retirement. She has a breakfast group for "quatching" (chatting or, less charitably, gossiping) and manages to squeeze in an art lesson from time to time. This month's lesson was "mountains", and her teacher provided yet more good tips and coaching. When Marianne's mountain is finished, we will feature it in these diaries, but nothing before its time. Speaking of time and teaching, Marianne is also giving a couple of kids English lessons. They sit around the kitchen table and laugh a lot, hardly the normal classroom setting.

Speaking of teaching, Marianne is also taking ballroom dance lessons to practice for the upcoming weddings. The stranger dancing with her is Herr Prietz, the nimble-footed teacher. Unfortunately, her normal partner can't seem to get the hang of things, beyond posing, stationary, on the dance floor.

When we aren't dancing, we make do with walking. By the end of April, the weather was warmer and we wandered around Pommersfelden checking out city-wide developments and enjoying the flowers. "Developments" included the filling in of the old castle's moat. While it was contrary to the historic setting, it seems that the moat wall was giving town fathers little choice: fill in the moat in a planned manner or the wall would collapse and take Main Street with it. Meanwhile, Pommersfelden still has some old roofs on old buildings to remind us this isn't California.

After that, it was flower pictures. There is no better excuse for walking in the sun.

I have been trying out "macro" close-ups and have discovered it is HARD! Our camera equipment is great, but this is yet another part of photography that requires skill and practice. MUCH more practice of course, but I do like this new excuse to be outdoors. (Click on the flower to see the first attempts of flowers - and barn pieces.)


We have been in Franconia long enough to eagerly anticipate the look of spring. One of the best parts is arrival of the bright yellow fields of rapeseed blossoms. I swear farmers plant these fields just because they look good. Others tell me it's part of the German bio-fuel efforts, yet another excuse for farmer subsidies.

The other predictable sign of spring is the arrival of home and garden shows. Our first one this year was in Erlangen. It was OK but not as good as the show in late May in our our neighboring palace, Schloss Weissenstein. We have to miss the Weissenstein show this year because we'll be on the beach in Maui. (Gabby's wedding, it case we haven't told you.)

So, that's it. April, 2008. A pretty good month, no business travel and the arrival of enough sun to enjoy. May promises a sharp increase in our activity level, but that will be another story.


John and Marianne.


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