Today the church prays for the troubled and sometimes controversial diocese of Manicaland, in Zimbabwe.
. . . says AdventureMan, as he takes me to lunch and to a movie on Valentine’s Day.
It’s a perfect stretch, from my birthday to Valentine’s Day. AdventureMan bought the beautiful white roses at Celebrations, a wonderful shop in Pensacola. What I love the most is that the flowers they use last and last. My flowers, more than a week old now, are just beginning to droop, just a tiny bit. They are still unspotted and unstained, glorious in their pristine whiteness, glowing in our foyer. I still feel the glow. :-)
My sweet son and daughter-in-law invited us for a shared birthday dinner and we had a wonderful, laughter-filled time, talking books, talking kids, laughing, laughing, and the 1 1/2 year old is starting to really talk and to get the convenience of oral communication. She wants to be a part of everything! The birthday boy and I had a wonderful time, tickling and laughing and sharing jokes. It was a great evening.
Lunch was in Gulf Breeze, at Rotolo’s, where they have great salads and thin crust pizzas, and then we went to see the spellbinding (if you are a nerd and love complex thinking) Imitation Game, which we both enjoyed thoroughly. We are so totally geeks; this was the perfect Valentine’s Day movie for us.
We met President von Weizsaecker under unusual circumstances. He has asked to greet members of the US Forces living in Germany on Thanksgiving. A friend called us urgently two days before Thanksgiving, asking if we would join them; they had been selected for the President’s visit. Others had been invited, but their children had come down with chicken-pox. We had just moved, had no plans and were delighted for the offer.
President Richard von Weizsaecker arrived in a large motorcade, the streets lined with people. When he entered the military quarters, suddenly we all felt a bit shy, but he sat himself among all the children, who all happened to be boys and un-shy. He knew just how to get them talking, and us. He was a most gracious and elegant man, sure of who he was, and excelling in putting others at ease.
The next day our photo appeared on the front page of the Stars and Stripes with the President, and our friends from all over Germany were calling to ask if we’d gone undercover – we were identified with the names of the people who had originally been invited, whose children had chicken pox. Of course, the more we explained, the more nobody believed us. It was hilarious.
BERLIN (AP) – Former German President Richard von Weizsaecker, who urged his country to confront the Nazi past, promoted reconciliation and denounced far-right violence during a 10-year tenure that spanned the reunification of west and east, has died. He was 94.
President Joachim Gauck’s office announced Weizsaecker’s death on Saturday. Weizsaecker, a patrician and eloquent figure who was president from 1984 to 1994, raised the profile of the largely ceremonial presidency and established himself as a moral conscience for the nation.
Weizsaecker’s May 1985 speech marking the 40th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat in World War II cemented his reputation. It won widespread praise as an effort to bring fellow Germans to terms with the Holocaust.
“All of us, whether guilty or not, whether young or old, must accept the past. We are all affected by its consequences and liable for it,” said Weizsaecker, who served as a regular soldier in Adolf Hitler’s army. “Anyone who closes his eyes to the past is blind to the present.”
“The 8th of May was a day of liberation,” he told the West German parliament. “It freed us all from the system of National Socialist tyranny.”
Later that month, the Netherlands’ German-born Prince Claus presented the president with a Dutch translation of the speech, telling him that it enabled him finally to acknowledge his roots in a country where resentment of the Nazi occupation remained widespread.
In October 1985, Weizsaecker made the first visit to Israel by a West German head of state. His Israeli counterpart, Chaim Herzog, said the comments had won Weizsaecker “a special place in the history of your people.”
“Richard von Weizsaecker stood worldwide for a Germany that had found its way to center of the democratic family of peoples,” current President Joachim Gauck said in a message of condolences to Weizsaecker’s widow. “He stood for a federal republic that faces up to its past.”
It’s my favorite time of the year, and there is just so much to do. Cooler temperatures give me energy! As I am making my morning coffee (as opposed to my mid-morning coffee, or my after-lunch coffee or that regrettable late afternoon coffee) I noticed a ray of sunshine coming in obliquely from a new direction, illuminating how dusty my lower cupboards had gotten. While the coffee brews, I grab the spray and paper towels and quickly wipe down the streaked, dusty doors, hoping no one else has noticed their grime. There are even a couple stray Pete-hairs, which make me sad. I still miss that sweet cat. I wonder where his spirit roams?
It’s the time of year for cleaning-out and re-organizing, and when you are a quilter, you have a lot to re-organize. I have shelves and bins of fabrics, shelves of books and patterns, shelves of cut pieces and threads, shelves of quilts ready to be assembled. January is such a great month for getting rid of things that just bog me down and collect dust. There are a few things I am sentimental about, but for the most part, I love the free-ness of clearing out the expendable.
And, with all the juices of renewal flowing, AdventureMan and I are planning one of our wonderful road trips. I used to do all the planning; AdventureMan might give some input but for the most part, he was focused on his job and I took care of travel plans, reservations, funding, etc. Now he has more time, we call back and forth from office to office about hotel websites, Google Maps, travel time. I create the data base and print out the segments, he helps with things to do and see and hotels and side trips. At first, it was a real adjustment for me, having input, but now it’s made things a lot more fun.
I didn’t used to print out segments, not once I got my smart phone, but to our horror, we discovered there are still places in this great United States where (gasp!) there is no coverage! When you have to make tricky road connections, it helps to have directions, and a hand held map. I put together folders, and we can just throw pieces away as they are accomplished. Our trips are more like missions, but a lot more fun.
We don’t do bucket lists, or not so much, but we do try to scratch an itch. There are places I haven’t seen, experiences I haven’t had. We’re alike in that way, AdventureMan and I. We love our road trips, as much for the unexpected blessings as for the planned ones. At dinner last night, I told him that about the worst experience I could remember was finding myself in a camp on the Busanga Plains in Zambia; it was about a week too early, it was still soaked with the receding flooding, game was scarce and it was very very hot. Mosquitos were everywhere, and I was covered with bites. At the same time, I have had better, less memorable experiences. You have to have the odd bad experience to help you understand just how good some of the good ones have been.
I had to do this photo because these below $2/gallon gas prices are such an unexpected delight:
And I had a moment when I thought my heart would stop as our nearly 5 year old “baby” stood up on the high bar at gymnastics!
So January is rushing by.
There are times – it doesn’t matter where I am, but it’s usually a grocery store. Kuwait. Qatar. Pensacola – they all have this elevator music, music you barely notice, until you find yourself unconsciously belting out “I miss the rains in Africa . . . .”
I love that song. We’ve visited many African countries, and occasionally just before or after the rainy season. When the drops of rain hit the dry earth, there is a scent like no other, an earthy, clean perfume smell.
MIT scientists have worked out the source of that intoxicating scent – tiny bubbles.
Earthy, Post-Rain Smell Explained by MIT Scientists
Researcher create slow-motion video of “champagne bubble” effect to show the origin of the familiar after-rain smell. Raindrops can release aerosols from the ground into the air as they hit, researchers find.
(Photo : MIT)
Researchers say they’ve used high-speed photography to show the origin of the familiar earthy, sweet smell that lingers in the air following a rainstorm.
Scientists call that aroma petrichor, and have long ascribed it to chemicals and oils in soil released as aerosols when raindrops hit the ground.
Now researchers at MIT say they’ve created super-slow-motion footage to demonstrate how that “rain smell” moves from the ground into the air.
“It’s a very common phenomenon, and it was intriguing to us that no one had observed this mechanism before,” says professor of mechanical engineering Cullen R. Buie.
“Rain happens every day — it’s raining now, somewhere in the world,” he says.
When a raindrop impacts a porous surface, the researchers found, it traps tiny bubbles of air that then shoot upwards like the bubbles in a glass of champagne, ultimately bursting out of the raindrop in a fizz of aerosols.
Those aerosols contain aromatic elements that can be released by light rainfall and spread by winds, they say.
More aerosols are produced by light or moderate rainfall than during heavy rainfall, which is why the familiar petrichor odor is more commonly apparent after a light shower, they add.
“Heavy rain [has a high] impact speed, which means there’s not enough time to make bubbles inside the droplet,” says postdoctoral researcher Youngsoo Joung.
The scientists filmed raindrops falling on a variety of surfaces, including 16 kinds of soil and 12 engineered materials.
Identifying a mechanism for raindrop-induced generation of aerosols may help to explain how some kinds of soil-based diseases are spread, Joung says.
“Until now, people didn’t know that aerosols could be generated from raindrops on soil,” he says. “This finding should be a good reference for future work, illuminating microbes and chemicals existing inside soil and other natural materials, and how they can be delivered in the environment, and possibly to humans.”
The MIT scientists are conducting further experiments with surfaces containing soil bacteria and pathogens, including E. coli, to see if rainfall and its aerosol-generating mechanism can spread them.
“Aerosols in the air certainly could be resulting from this phenomenon,” Buie says. “Maybe it’s not rain, but just a sprinkler system that could lead to dispersal of contaminants in the soil, for perhaps a wider area than you’d normally expect.”
The results of the MIT study have been published in the journal Nature Communications.