Words of wisdom

Words of wisdom

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Skål from Denmark!

Denmark is the  home of many castles and smørrebrøds (open faced sandwiches which normally contain herring, thinly-sliced cheeses and boiled potatoes);  sunny days filled with lots of intermittent rain showers; the Tivoli Gardens and the little, Little Mermaid; very tall, very good-looking, very blond locals (who are very friendly); a great many great museums, extremely clean streets, and real cool Danish modern furniture.  


Kokkedal is a small suburb of Copenhagen where I have been calling home since I arrived the day after The Wedding.  Here I have enjoyed my first 'house/pet sit'.  It has been especially great because I have been sitting for a friend and neighbor from our Minnesota days.  Rick was the middle of three brothers, all of whom were my boy's babysitters!  

He and his lovely wife are teachers at the International Schools. They have lived and taught in locations as varied as Guam and Ecuador; Mozambique and Bulgaria.  They have been in Denmark for 2 years and plan to remain here until their oldest of two beautiful daughters graduates from high school.   

Rick found my resume listed on TrustedHousesitters.com and asked if I would be interested in sitting for them while his wife and girls were in the States and he and his best friend from college did some traveling around Europe.  Of course I said yes!

I've thoroughly enjoyed my time taking care of Tego - a very adorable, obstinate, white terrier who shares my bed,  feeding the koi every morning, watering the pumpkins and the tomatoes in the greenhouse each evening, and eating from the bountiful garden Rick has planted!  He has six different types of lettuces, beets, kohlrabi, sweet peas, kale, and lots of fresh raspberries, plus cherry and heirloom tomatoes.  It's veggie heaven!  


My first day here I saw a working windmill and   toured Fredricksborg Castle and National History Museum,.  They were having   a special exhibit of Queen Margrethe II's wardrobe throughout her many years of reign.



I took a free, 3-hour walking tour of downtown Copenhagen  This is a wonderful option which is offered in most of the big cities in Europe with locals as your tour guides.  I loved the cancel boat tour and had a couple of delicious meals (fresh mussels!) in Nyhaven, the area of downtown Copenhagen that was constructed to look just like Amsterdam.  I also saw an interesting 'male fashion statement' and got one of palace guards to almost smile!




I spent a day in Helsingør, where Denmark and Sweden almost touch.  It is here that Shakespeare set the fictitional location of Hamlet's castle, Elsinor.  In reality, it's Kronberg Castle, built by King Frederik in 1509 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The town boasts a 'pedistrian only' area of large and smaller winding streets, some adored with really great works of art.  Even the train stations are old and imposing.

You can see Sweden just across the water

My second-to-last full day here I spent wandering through Tivoli Gardens, an amazing amusement park located in the heart of downtown Copenhagen.  They have live concerts all summer long - unfortunately I just missed Snoop Dog! He went from here to Sweden and immediately got arrested for procession of illegal drugs!

I don't ride rides, but if I did, this place would have been so much fun. The lines were very short even though there were lots of people in the park.  It was fun to see the big smiles on the children's faces and enjoy the beautiful flower gardens that intertwined with the rides and numerous restaurants.  I followed the sounds of a practicing orchestra and sat outside an open widow in a glorious garden bursting with flowers and fragrance listening to an overture of Broadway show-stoppers.  How perfect was that?!




Can you guess what this is?  It's a robotic lawn mower!

After my visit to the Tivoli and a quick stop for lunch, it was onto the Glyptoteket Museum which is located just behind the Tivoli.  They had a lovely exhibit of French Masters - along with their large display of Greek and Roman statuary.  There was one photo I just couldn't resist taking - sorry -  but it's really amazing what they can do with marble!

Tomorrow I will help Rick welcome home his family from their 4 weeks in the States visitng family and friends.  We've cleaned and scrubbed and filled with fridge with good things to eat.  Time now for me to pack-up and fly off to the UK where I will spend the next three months.  I will be house/petsitting and sightseeing  throughout England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.  And as my friend Peter says, maybe learning to speak 'proper posh English!'  Doubt it - but I'll keep you posted.

Until next time....

Monday, July 20, 2015


...amongst the tall corn stalks and green soy beans of southern Minnesota when my youngest son took for his bride the fabulous Melissa.  I met the new Mrs. Scott on a MegaBus ride between Madison, WI and Chicago in October 2014.  She was headed to Chicago for a weekend break from studying for her Doctorate and I was returning home after a week of 'seeing the leaves' Up Nord with old friends.

We quickly started talking and when she learned that I was a widow, she thought I should meet her single father, a dentist living outside of Madison.  Since I knew for a fact that men in the neighboring suburb of Oak Park won't drive the 8 miles into the big, bad city of Chicago for a date, I knew for sure her dad wasn't going to drive from Wisconsin!  But the more we talked the more I was convinced she would be perfect for my youngest, single son.  The only problem - he lived in NC and she lived in WI.  'So drop him an email', I suggested, and 'tell him how you had met his crazy mother on a bus and he'll understand.'  And she did...and as they say...the rest is now history!

I flew in from Frankfurt on Sunday afternoon.  Starting Monday morning a frantic 3 days of shopping with my good friend Carrie ensued as no, I did not have dresses or shoes or pants or even jewelry that would be classified 'wedding attire' in my 19" suitcase!  Add to that were appointments for hair, nails, toes and dinner with old friends.  

And then on Thursday, during a most perfect summer weekend, even with severe storm warnings in the forecast, 3 days of celebration began.  

From the Thursday evening gathering at the beautiful home of Melissa's mother Patsy, where the tiny Scott family met the large and extended Kasper family for the first time; to the wonderful lunchtime cruise of the 4 inter-connecting lakes that wander through downtown Fairmont; to the rehearsal on the back lawn of the magnifcent lakefront home of Melissa's 94-year-old grandmother (who so generously offered that location for the wedding celebration); to a fun 'burgers and beer' rehearsal dinner at the Channel Inn; to the the actual Big Event on Saturday night, the temps remained in the low 80's with a brisk breeze that kept the renown MN State Bird (think large mosquitoes!) far, far away.  

Everything was PERFECT!

After viewing the following photos, you must agree that the Bride is exceptionally Beautiful, the Groom is quite Handsome (if I do say so myself) , the flower-girl was adorable, (of course she's my granddaughter!) the location was picture-perfect and the Scott's (all but 4) were assembled en mass to be part of this wonderful occasion.  

Welcome Mrs. Melissa Scott - We love you and are thrilled you are now part of our Family!

Until next time.....

Saturday, July 4, 2015


The past 2 weeks have been filled with new people, new places, old friends and hot, HOT weather.

I left St. Ost, France on June 24th and flew to Basel, Switzerland.  From the airport I hopped the shuttle bus into town and to the train station (Hello Basel!) and caught a train to Frankfurt, Germany.  FYI, my 2 1/2 hour train ride was more expensive than my flight from Toulouse to Basel.  Switzerland and Germany are known for their very pricy trains.

I was met in Frankfurt by the daughter of my oldest and dearest friend.  Cindy and her husband Jim have now been my on-and-off again hosts for the past 10 days.  They live south of Wiesbadden in one of the most beautifully decorated and furnished rental homes I have ever seen.  The owner is an artist and when she wanted to start a new home project, she just left everything, includling the art, in this house and chose to rent it 'as is.'  Jim is a biggie with GM (Opal in Germany) and Cindy has become a castle affecinado -determined to viist as many in the surrounding area/countries as she can find!  FYI - there are 100's!!! 

For the past few years, they have made their home in Seoul, Russia and now Germany.  Cindy is the gatherer of history and facts about their new locations and therefore is a great tour guide!  Since I arrived we have 'done' Wiesbaden, Mainz, Eltville and Frankfurt. We have shopped,toured numerous   cathedrals, taken afternoon coffee and beer breaks, wandered through an amazing-smelling rose garden and I have enjoyed Jim's grilling and Cindy's cooking.

The roses at the Electors Castle in Eltville.
The cathedral in Wiesbaden 
The Carnivale fountain in Mainz
A little mermaid fountain on a small side-street
The glorious Chagall windows in St. Stephens
The ceiling in the Baroque St. Augistine's Church in Mainz.
A staute of St. Barthelmus in The Dom

Cindy & I at the Stock Market in Frankfurt.  Chose to have our pix with Da Bear! instead of the Bull.

On July 28th, I boarded a bus with 16 other Anglos and headed to Laubach - an hour northwest of Frankfurt - where I would once again spend my days teaching English - this time to Germans.

Englischhausen is part of DIVERBO, the company that owns Pueblo Ingles in Spain but it's run a bit differently.  Though the curriculum is almost exaclty the same, it is squished, as this program is only 5 days in length, compared to the 8 days in Spain.  They don't pre-screen the participants as carefully for their English-speaking ability.  It was so hard on 2 of the participants (and on the Anglos too) who barely spoke any English and understood even less.  But the German students were wonderful.  So fun and interesting, from all over Germany, each with varied backgrounds and work expereince.  

We were housed in the lovely Waldhaus hotel outside of the village.  We each had our own rooms and they fed us quite well!  This time on 'German time.'  Breakfast was at 8, lunch at 1, dinner at 8.  Most nights I was in bed by 10 - where in Spain we hadn't been served the 2nd course yet!

One scorching afternoon (its was 94º) we walked into the village of Laubach to view it's very own castle.  The Earl, who still lives there, is from the original family that goes back 100's of years.  From what our tour guide said, his family has always been very kind and generous to the villagers - in comparison to some others who were awful!  The town is filled with the very quaint half- timbered homes. 

FYI - Did you know that the timber in these homes were quite valuable?  When the owner was forced to move, they would just tear down the home - the white space between the timbers only being a straw and mud plaster - and take the valuable timbers with them to be used in their new home.  You can tell the age of the home by how much their timbers have sagged or bowed out from the plaster.  

Now I want to share with you one of the best 'it's a small world' stories ever!  We had been asked to post a small bio on the Diverbo websiste so that our fellow Anglos would know a little about each other.  When I boarded the bus I found myself sitting next to Don and Dennis, a fabulous couple from the San Francisco Bay area. We started chatting and Don said he had read my bio and wanted to know how I had started my business.  I told him that my husband and I had moved to Brussels in 1972  and I had joined the American Woman's Club. 

 At that point he got the biggest grin on his face and said "Where did you attend church?"  Now that might seem strange unless you knew that the American Protestant Church in Brussels was the home of every American, and a bunch of Brits too, of any and all denominations, because it was THE social gathering spot of Brussels - and it was the only church that was  heated!  Turns out 'young Donald (age 17 at the time) was the cocktail-hour piano player at the AWC, attended church with his parents (I knew his mother!) and went to the Internaltional School of Brussels with all of the teenage children of our closest friends.  We spent the entire week coming up with more and more names we rememberd and things that had happened while we both lived there.  What a wonderful way to remember some of the best years of my life.

Cindy was kind enough to pick me up on Friday afternoon when the program concluded - after stoping to tour one casle and one palace along the way.
 We were so happy to spend the time in her cute Opal Adam with the air conditioning blasting as it is now 100º in Franfurt and nothing is air coditioned except the cars!!!!  IT"S HOT - and sticky.  

So what do your do in Germany when it's so hot and so sticky that you can't stand it?  You go jump in the pool - the community pool that is - that is large enough to hold hundreds of happy German's and few, much cooler Americans celebrating the 4th of July!
This photo was taken as we were getting ready to enter and it shows only about 1/2 of the complex.  German's don't believe in heating pool water, so on a day with when the air temp is 100º, the pool was a wonderful 76º!!!  Too many people to swim laps, so we just stood in water up to our shoulders for about 3 hours and let our body temps cool down.  

To celebrate the 4th, Jim and Cindy treated me to a delicous dinner at Baiken.  As you can see, this restaurant is sat, literally, in the middle of the vineyard.  It's a 'farm-to-table' experience, including the fresh grilled trout I had that had been caught in a local stream.  

The view from the patio window next to our table was 'framed' by vines.  It has rained earlier but the sun came out just as I shot the photo.

And we concluded the evening watching fireworks over the Rhine!  Though the locals were only celebrating the first weekend of the month, we really knew they were celebrating our Independence Day!  Streets and sidewalks were packed, so Cindy and I took advanage of the great vantange point by sitting on the back of Jim's convertable!  

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.  Back to the States for the wedding - then Denmark.

Until next time......