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Written February 26
Dear Friends and Family,
is another of those diaries-just-for-a-record. Like last
month. My excuses remain numerous: busy, nothing interesting,
etc. However, the truth is that I am having to learn new web
authoring software. Aaargh. I am trying a shareware product
called "KompoZer" to have the flexibility I had with Dreamweaver,
without the expense of a new purchase. We'll see if this works.
I will try to divide this single diary, but that remains to be seen too. If I succeed, here's what follows:
Life in our village remains quiet, in February: cold and quiet. We had some remarkably cold weather, minus 10 to 20 C (about 13 to about -8 F) at night and just a bit less frigid in the days. We had been commenting how the winter had seemed to be passing without much snow and cold, but then "cold" happened. At least it only lasted a couple of weeks and as I write this, we are back above freezing. OK enough.
To try to capture the chilliness, here are a few pictures:
Otherwise, things were pretty normal. Marianne was busy getting ready for here first show, although it has now been moved back to April 26. We have already removed all the show pictures from our walls, so it seems like a bare house for now. I am still not getting back into photography, but I am trying. I had one excursion to try a "panorama" of our castle, but the results were so plain that I didn't even keep the "negatives". There will be plenty of time for better work.
Robin and Art came by for a weekend visit. They are
friends from the Frankfurt area and it is always nice spending some
time with them, talking and sipping wine. Actually, it was lots of
talk and a fair amount of wine. Well worth the calories.
Our only other guests are the spring birds eating in our trees.
Marianne and I remain on diets, but have stalled out short of our goals. Maybe it's the wine, maybe the winter non-activity. I'm sure it's not Burkhard's bakery.
My US Business trip
It has been quite some time since I had to visit the home office in America, but February broke my string of good luck. I really am not too fond of flying across the ocean: too long; too crowded; too many time zones. However, most of my work now is on American projects so I do need to get over there.
The flight over was OK, a short hop from Nuremberg and then a big plane from Frankfurt to Washington. The big plane was pretty empty, so I enjoyed spreading out over three seats. Better than business class! Of course it still takes close to 16 hours, door-to-door, and I suffer the six-hour time shift, but as flights go, not too bad.
On arrival night, I stayed with Geoff and his family. I
had bought Ryan an inflatable Airbus 380 at Frankfurt Airport and that
seemed to be a hit. Suzanne and Geoff surprised me with the
announcement that Ryan would be getting a new brother or sister in
August. Great news! (Ryan says it must be a boy, because
the sonogram picture didn't show any hair on the little head.)
I also got to join Suzanne's family to celebrate their second Christmas. Her cousin had been away on government training for the real Christmas, so the family had delayed things until he got back. We had a Christmas tree and kids opening packages and everything. It was fun.
From there, it was down to Lynchburg, Virginia, one of our company's US headquarters. The four-day stay was not too remarkable, except it did allow a couple of meals with friends. That may be the only part of work that I will miss in retirement! On Thursday, I drove back up to Dulles Airport and boarded the late United flight to Frankfurt. I really like this 9:50pm flight, because the airport tends to be pretty empty. This time, the flight was even empty enough that I again had three seats.
Frankfurt, however, was not so convenient. It seems the workers who direct planes to gates had gone on strike, so Lufthansa had canceled many domestic flights, including my hop back home to Nuremberg. They did give me a train ticket so, after I picked up my bags, I hoofed over to the airport train station and joined the crowds. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't what I had planned.
The good part was that Marianne was waiting for me, as always.
So, what's really new? Mostly, just our plans for retirement, including the next four months as we head that way. The big picture is retire at the end of June, using Sunday July 1 to host our annual Independence Day Bar B Que with another meaning for the "I" word. Before that, we need to get in three weeks vacation and a couple of business trips. This all takes serious planning.
The next "event" should be a US business trip next month to three of the following four places: Rockville, MD, Lynchburg, VA, Charlotte, SC, and Chattanooga, TN. It's the first two places that are questionable, but something should sort out. I do hope to bring a good camera to try some travel pictures, in addition to work, of course.
In April, we will go to southern Austria for a week.
Friends Kathy and John have a vacation place there and we are getting a
great deal, but it's too bad they won't be there. I am looking
forward to good mountain and valley pictures. And we need to get
back in time for Marianne's BIG SHOW on April 26th.
In May, Marianne will head to California to celebrate Sam's first birthday. That should be fun for her, but I'll stay around home to work and to do the inevitable Spring planting. Our plan for the garden this year is to figure out things that can tend themselves, since we don't expect to be available a lot.
In June, we may work in another week trip, or some long-weekends anyway, to German destinations such as the Black Forest or Berlin. Marianne's brother Chris and his family will visit at the end of the month and that is always fun.
July will see Independence Day (July 1 for me, July 4 for America) and a driving trip to France. We'll start with visits to friends in Lyon and Perigord and then longer stays in Bordeaux and Brittany. The goal is to avoid the roads on the major go-on-vacation days in France, but it will be hard to perfectly avoid the famous traffic jams.
August should find us back home, cutting the lawn, the field, and the weed patches. No rest before friends visit for a few days mid-month. It's another visit we look forward to, because they seem to be looking forward to it too and we enjoy showing off our neighborhood. After that visit, we drive up to the northern German beach to see what that's like. We did visit once, in late November one year, but the cold and nasty weather disturbed our positive impression. We'll end with a visit to Hamburg, another town we've visited in Winter but look forward to a better-weather visit.
From Hamburg, we hope to catch a train to Italy - with the car. The auto train runs through the Alps and would deposit us in Northern Italy, on our way south. That's as far as that planning has gone. And beyond that, it's a trip to America and then back for Christmas here in Germany. After that, who knows if we'll have money or health for anything, but we'll have time at least. THAT's what retirement is about.
And, if you want to squeeze in a visit, that's OK too. We'll leave the light on for you.John and Marianne
** ps: I am not really sure all this will happen. We'll see.
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