Archive: » 2022 » December

Amsterdam Has a Place in My Heart

AMSTERDAM — This is the Bicycle Capital of the World, a fact quickly brought home by a three-story parking garage solely for bikes outside Amsterdam Central Station, with 10,000 parking spots. We took a high-speed train from Hürth, Germany to here. We (me, my Beautiful Mystery Companion, daughter Abbie, daughter Mere and son-in-law Matt, who live in Hürth) sprung for first-class tickets for the three-hour ride and essentially had a private cabin with ample legroom and minimum hassle. I will take a train over a plane anytime, if possible. Nearly all sidewalks in Amsterdam have bike lanes...

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Christmas Reigns in Germany

HÜRTH, GERMANY — Germans love their Christmas markets. Over eight days, my Beautiful Mystery Companion, daughter Abbie, and I browsed, nibbled, sipped and gawked our way through towns in and around our temporary headquarters — a pleasant hotel a five-minute walk from daughter Mere and son-in-law Matt’s apartment in Hürth. That city adjoins Köln (Cologne), a much-larger city and home to one of the largest markets in Germany. Our first Christmas market stop was to the Bonn Christmas market. Most trips started in the late afternoon after Matt got off work and could ably serve as both...

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Headed to a European Adventure

SOMEWHERE OVER THE ATLANTIC — We are crammed in the outskirts of steerage on what my friend Albert would call a doublewide jetliner. It is a Boeing 777, now flying at 35,000 feet and 600 mph toward Heathrow Airport in London. That is our first stop before taking a short, even more-crammed flight to Cologne, Germany. That is where middle-daughter Mere and son-in-law Matt have lived and worked for a little more than a year. My Beautiful Mystery Companion, daughter Abbie, and I are on our way to visit for 10 days, a trip that required considerable planning. I took charge of the flights and hotel....

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Finding a Charlie Brown Christmas tree

We went in search of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree last weekend in the woods of No-Name Farm. It was my Beautiful Mystery Companion’s idea, to which I readily agreed. She drove the Mule while I rode shotgun as we bounced through the forest, looking for an appropriate tree, preferably a pine. The chainsaw was in the back of the mule. Hardwood trees dominate these 57 acres, but scraggly cedars grow throughout, never reaching significant size since the hardwood canopy keeps the sun from reaching them. There is a scattering of mature pine tree. We hoped we might find a pine sapling near one of them. No...

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Celebrating the Christmas Cactus & Its Friends

The Christmas cactus is now in full glory, red and white blossoms popping out all over, blooming about a month earlier than its name indicates. It sits on an antique wooden chair in front of my desk, alongside a plant called a painter’s palette, or anthurium. That plant’s bloom is also exquisite, very shiny, almost as if it were shellacked. Both plants were presents from one of my Beautiful Mystery Companion’s brothers. They have lasted, indeed flourished, for years thanks to my BMC’s talent with plants. If it grows, she knows how to care for it. I simply follow orders, lugging plants here...

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