Adventures in Babysitting

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to stay with my friend Lola while her Pop was out of town. We had a great time!

The week before, Lola had earned her AKC Canine Good Citizen and Novice Trick Dog certifications – Yay, Lola!

Lola: Canine Good Citizen and Novice Trick Dog
Checking out dinner prep to see if it’s how Pop does it.
Are you EVER going to get up?!?
Town Lake, on guard for squirrels.

A good time was had by all.

Greetings from Sweden!

This year’s vacation was in Europe – Sweden, Denmark, Hamburg, England, and France – then a trans-Atlantic crossing to New York on the Queen Mary 2. That was in September and October; it’s taken me awhile to get the photos all sorted out.

It was way over-the-top, so if it turns out to by my last trip, I can say I went out on a high note. I flew from Houston to Frankfurt on a Lufthansa A380. First class. It was unbelievable. I took advantage of Lufthansa’s carbon-neutral donation program, so I didn’t feel quite as guilty.

My pod was the windows above the “f,” “t,” and “h” of Lufthansa.

From Frankfurt, it was on to Stockholm. This was my first time to Sweden. Very beautiful and the very friendly people. We stayed at the Grand Hotel, which I was told hosts the Nobel Prize winners.

The Grand Hotel, Stockholm Sweden

The first stop in Stockholm was definitely kitschy. I did not buy anything in the gift shop.

From there, it was on to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa was a war ship built by King Gustavus Adolphus in 1626 – 1628 for his war with Poland-Lithuania. The king directed its construction, which turned out to be a bad thing since he knew absolutely nothing about naval architecture. It turned out it was top-heavy. On its maiden voyage on 10 August 1628, it pulled away from the dock, sailed about 1,500 yards, capsized, and promptly sank to the bottom of the harbor. In the 1950s and 60s, it was raised from water and restored. It’s now a museum.

After The Vasa, I walked around the old town; very 18th and 19th century feel.

I had a great meal that I was assured was traditionally Swedish.

The next day was a tour of the Stockholm City Hall where the Nobel Prize ceremony is. It’s a modern building – 1923 – in a piazza style. It is very reminiscent of St. Mark’s in Venice.

After the city hall tour, it was on to Drottningholm Palace, the residence of the Swedish royal family. Apparently it’s not uncommon to happen upon the king walking his dog around the lake.

After Drottningholm, it was on to the city of Uppsala. Uppsala University is the oldest in Scandinavia, founded in 1477.

The Uppsala Ikea. Yes, they actually have Ikeas in Sweden.

On the way back to Stockholm, we stopped at a runestone from the late Viking period. This is an actual stone that has been stored.

Viking Runestone

The next day, it was on to Göteborg (Gothenburg), home of Volvo. It was a quick city tour.

I particularly liked the sculpture dedicated to ending gun violence.

Anti-Gun Violence Sculpture

I really enjoyed the Göteborg botanical gardens.

It happened to be a “Climate Strike” protest, spurred by the movement started by Greta Thunberg.

Global Warming Protest

The tour ended with the Masthuggskyrkan, a church built in 1914. It has a very unique architectural style called “National Romantic.” It was certainly the most unique Lutheran church I’ve ever been in. Gothenburg has a large sailing history, which the church recognizes.

Masthuggskyrkan Ship

This macabre little vignette was in the corner where they do the children’s sermon.

Just plain odd.

After Göteborg, it’s on to Denmark.

Back from the Dead

Three years ago, when the neighbors put in their pool, something went awry with my yard; all the grass eventually died. After several attempts to spot treat, I went ahead and had the whole thing re-sodded in March. Finally, it’s coming back into its own.

I’m also happy with what’s going on in the front.

I stripped the deck, got a new rug, and fixed the outdoor lights. Now if I could only get rid of the mosquitos.

Mabel and Fannie are quite happy with their resurrected yard.

Fannie and Mable – Finally, grass!

Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit!

I had an absolutely off-the-hook time at an Oktoberfest yesterday!

Pretzel on bavarian napkin

Brezel und Bier – Die besten Freunde!

Die Speisekarte was:

  • Märzenbier and Brezel
  • Wine:  Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Emile, 2009 (the best white I have ever had)
  • Rotkohl (the best red cabbage I have ever had, either in or out of Germany)
  • Kartoffelknödel (potato dumplings)
  • Spätzle (homemade)
  • Münchner Bratwurst


Lots of laughing, singing, dancing, and toasts to die Gemütlichkeit!

And a new-found favorite German song – ‘Die Da?!’ by Die Fantastischen Vier.

Whitman and Hindemith – Odes to the End

I recently read a piece in The New Yorker from a British ex-pat who was returning to the UK because of her disillusionment with the Trump administration.  One of the things that prompted her to become a US citizen was the poetry of Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass.

I re-read Leaves of Grass and another Whitman piece that speaks to me profoundly – When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.  Lilacs was a paean to Lincoln after his assassination.  The 20th Century German composer, Paul Hindemith, set Lilacs to music as an ode to Franklin Roosevelt after his death in 1945.

One of the most striking sections from the Hindemith work is the Death Carol from stanza 14 of Lilacs.

Come lovely and soothing death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later delicate death.
Prais’d be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,
And for love, sweet love—but praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.
Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all,
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.
Approach strong deliveress,
When it is so, when thou hast taken them I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss O death.
From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose saluting thee, adornments and feastings for thee,
And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread sky are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.
The night in silence under many a star,
The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice I know,
And the soul turning to thee O vast and well-veil’d death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.
Over the tree-tops I float thee a song,
Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the prairies wide,
Over the dense-pack’d cities all and the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee O death.