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A Quiet Christmas and Year Ending

December 25-29
Written December 29

Dear Diary,

This is one of those "catch up" diaries that I do so that when we look back in a few years we will not notice a gap in our life.  The facts are that much of our time is spent so quietly, and a record of that time is so ... unremarkable, that I'll warn again that these are just simple records for our dotage, when we will want to remember even the "regular"parts of the past.  I think.  Better to record too much, and ignore it later, than not record enough.  Probably.
We managed to work in a second Christmas Market, in nearby Erlangen. In fact, the town has two, a normal market and an "old" market that seems more like a hippie market or a renaissance fair recreation.  Both are relatively small, but they have all the required offerings of small gifts, spiced wine, sausages, cookies, and people having fun. 

Normally, we would see several markets, but this year we managed just Nuremberg (huge) and Erlangen (not huge).  We have resolved to do better next year.

It is particularly nice to see kids enjoying the season and Erlangen added an ice skating rink this year that was a hit, especially with the little ones.

Every time around, this little girl got better and the joy of succeeding showed in her smile.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for Marianne and me were very quiet.  After our almost-six-months travel, it was OK to be just ourselves, comfortable in our old home.  We did keep up with family through phone, email, and Skype*, but we also vowed to be near family next year, after we hit a few Christmas Markets here in Germany.

* Skype, like all internet-dependent technologies does  not work well due to a very, very slow internet service from Deutsche Telecom.  However, for 2013, they have promised a speed improvement by one or even two orders of magnitude!  Wow, we can't wait.
Christmas Eve dinner -- small and fattening
Speaking of technology, I thought I would update folks on our new neighborhood power plants.  While we were in the States, four windmills sprouted on the hill across our valley.  It's strange.  They do alter the horizon, a view from Pommersfelden that had not changed dramatically for hundreds of years.  They clearly are our new landmarks.

Disclosure: I am not a fan of windmills, but not because they spoil the view.  I actually think they are quiet graceful machines and the engineer in me likes graceful machines. 

The problem I have is that they are very expensive and they inefficiently generate relatively small amounts of power.  There is a nuclear power unit not far from here, and it will take about 1500 of these windmills to replace it.  And the wind-scheme needs some as-yet-undefined energy storage equipment to bridge the gap over low-wind periods.  But that is the way Germen is headed.

(Diary including the windmill parts passing by our house.)

Graceful blades.
Last but not least is a summary of 2012 and prognosis for 2013.  First, 2012.  See the past 67 diaries for more details than anyone needs to know, even us.  Short version: Retirement;  A month driving in France;  A new grandson;  A month driving in Italy;  A few visitors;  Two months traveling in the States, seeing that new grandson, three other grandsons, a granddaughter, and all their associated parents.

As for 2013, who knows?  Some travel, including for family visits.  Hopefully, some new "local" travel as well.  Maybe something more exotic than drivable-Europe.  The big rumor is talk about moving "back home", wherever that may be.  Not soon, but sometime.  Visit while you can.
Backyard sunsets and neighborhood rainbows will always be memorable.
Finally, New Year's resolutions are the same as always: exercise, lose the weight we gained while traveling, improve German language skills, and stay in touch with friends and family.

For the last item, we need your cooperation.

Regards and have a good slide** into the New Year.

John and Marianne

** The German phrase is: "Einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!" and "Rutsch" is traditionally, but incorrectly, translated as "slide".  Ten points extra credit for anyone with the correct story.


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