A Liebster Award, for Me?

A few days ago I gleefully told my husband, “Blogging is fun! There are such creative people out there and I’m having a blast discovering them!” And then the next day I received notice that Jaded Apothecary (someone who embodies creative) nominated me for a Liebster Award.

The Liebster Award is intended to recognize up-and-coming blogs, particularly those with fewer than 200 followers. The rules are as follows: Post 11 facts about yourself. Answer the questions posed by your nominator. Pass the award on to 11 new recipients. Pose 11 new questions to your bloggers.

Liebster Award

Next, post a copy of the badge on your blog (you can find several options by doing a Google image search for “Liebster Award”). Finish it all up by notifying your selected nominees, and be sure to include links to the originating blog, as well as to those of the new recipients.

First off, thanks to http://jadedapothecary.wordpress.com/ for the nomination. This mysterious blogger stays private while questioning the world in a funny and informed fashion. Jaded Apothecary, your own acceptance post for the award is a hard act to follow! Here are my answers to your 11 queries:

1. Do you feel like you were destined to become a writer? And by that I mean, do you kind of feel like that scene in Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit when Whoopi Goldberg tells Lauryn Hill that if she wakes up in the morning and can only think about singing, then she’s meant to be a singer? Is Whoopi Goldberg saying to you, “You’re meant to be a writer, girl!”…or guy?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since the age of 6. I took way too long to get serious about it.

2. Since I can’t cook, I’d love to read about your worst cooking disaster. Go on now. Make me feel better about myself.

It was a dessert soufflé. I mastered savory soufflés so easily that I thought, How hard could it be to make one for dessert? I disappeared into the kitchen with 2 baskets of strawberries and good intentions. Pride goeth before a fall… and fall is exactly what my soufflé did. I came back out 3 hours later (really) with something flat that had the color and consistency of a rubber eraser. That is the first and last time I ever tried to make a dessert soufflé as the failure scarred me for life!

3. If you were a tree, what tree would you be? And don’t you roll your eyes at me. They ask this question during corporate “development” sessions for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is, but still. I’d like to know your answer.

Sugar maple.

4. What’s the last television show you gave up on watching because you just couldn’t deal with it anymore?

24 Hours. The word ‘jingoistic’ comes to mind.

5. What’s your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving, hands down.

6. Did you, like me, have a panic attack (but a good one) when you first realized that people in other countries were reading your work?

No, I had that panic attack when my husband first talked me into becoming a blogger.

7. If you could make a difference in the world (and I’m talking about a genuine, magical difference…not the Miss America crap), what would it be?

Convince people that we really are all connected. There is no “other”.

8. I can’t watch the commercial for the ASPCA without crying uncontrollably for 20 minutes, clutching my own dog and loving on him until he literally forces himself away from me, and, sometimes, placing a quick call to my therapist. Can you? I mean, it’s sad!

I leave the room when reports on animals caught in man-made disasters come on.

9. Do you have any friends in your life who date back to your childhood?

Yes!

10. What’s your favorite color, and what do you think it says about you as a person?

What does it say about me that I actually have several favorite colors?

11. When you travel, do you ever wish you could pull someone aside, open their suitcase, pull out a different outfit, throw it at them, and then send them to the restroom shouting, “You will change into this right now, because as things stand, you look ridiculous. Who let you believe this was okay? You’re in an airport, ma’am! Pajama jeans and an old Body Glove t-shirt are unacceptable!” Explain.

No. But I’ve wanted to strangle fellow travelers more than once for holding up the plane while they try to stuff their obnoxiously oversized carry-on luggage into the overhead bin. Which part of “must fit into space above or below the seat” did they not understand?

And here are 11 factoids about me:

(Photo from Wikipedia)

  1. I’m a southpaw.
  2. My father worked for the Forest Service, so as a kid I spent every summer in the woods.
  3. We had flying squirrels as pets every summer. (See #2)
  4. My siblings and I agree: we had the perfect childhoods. (See #2 & #3)
  5. I’ve probably watched the film Blade Runner 50 times.
  6. I used to speak conversational Spanish and Italian, but right now German takes up most of the brain space reserved for foreign languages.
  7. I can laugh at myself.
  8. I’ve been licensed as a massage therapist for 25 years. It’s the perfect work for me: it combines science (treatments for injuries, anatomy) with intuition (yes, there is a mind-body-spirit connection).
  9. I’m named for a grandfather who was struck by lightening – twice.
  10. I’m sometimes overcome with Happy Feet! (Steve Martin fans will get this reference.)
  11. My husband is German and no one does cake and coffee better than the Germans. For our stateside wedding party we had the bakery make 6 different cakes rather than the traditional white one. We had chocolate, coconut, yellow, spice, carrot cake, and so on… and asked the bakery to misspell our names on all but one of them. Since we’re Jadi & Uwe it was an easy request.

I nominate the following bloggers for the Liebster Award. Thanks to each of you for inspiring me, as well as giving me a good reason to turn on the laptop each morning:

  1. http://lasesana.wordpress.com/
  2. http://thatgirlwhoreadsbooks.com/
  3. http://cvheerden.wordpress.com/ Her wonderful blog Bridging Worlds currently has 120 followers and I’m happy that fact makes it eligible for this nomination.
  4. http://unpackedwriter.com/
  5. http://travel-stained.com/
  6. http://thinktome.wordpress.com/
  7. http://volunteerfringe.com/
  8. http://themodernmanuscript.wordpress.com/
  9. http://wearenotconnected.wordpress.com/
  10. http://alaskamexicoandbeyond.wordpress.com/
  11. http://windhorseblog.wordpress.com/

 Questions for my nominees:

  1. Do you want to live to be 100?
  2. If you dream that you can fly, where are you flying to?
  3. What is ‘your’ song?
  4. If you could climb in a time machine, where would you go?
  5. Do you need a private space to write, or can you write anywhere?
  6. Are there foods you absolutely refuse to eat?
  7. Do you have a book you reread over and over?
  8. What person or past experience makes you sentimental?
  9. What is the best vacation you’ve ever had?
  10. Do you believe in reincarnation?
  11. If yes, what do you hope (or worry) you’ll come back as? If no, what do you think comes next?
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The Year the World Came to Party

I’ve lived in Germany for over 20 years. Stuttgart has become my second home (third? fourth? It’s hard to say when you moved every few years as a child). Stuttgart is the ideal city, with all you could want:

  • great restaurants
  • parks & public spaces
  • shopping
  • museums
  • outdoor cafés
  • public transportation
  • proximity to Nature

What a great place to live! I used to think, If only Germans would relax and have more funand then the World Cup came to Germany.

It was 2006. May was cold and damp, and June was no different. Everyone waited anxiously for the start of the soccer tournament and prayed for good weather.

The weather gods decided to smile. Our prayers were heard and a few days before the tournament opened, the skies cleared and the temperature rose. We suddenly had perfect, sunny summer weather. The country let out collectively held breaths and said, Let the Games Begin!

Watching the World Cup at the Schlossplatz

Watching the World Cup at the Schlossplatz

Stuttgart set up 3 gigantic outdoor viewing screens in the heart of downtown.

DSC_3915

Every restaurant and café had flat screen t.v.s. For once, patrons all wanted the set on and the sound turned UP!

Croatian fans

Croatian fans

I arranged my work schedule around the games and each afternoon my friends and I headed in to town to watch the afternoon matches.  DSC_4771DSC_4655AustraliaWe never knew what we’d see on the UBahn trains or on the streets. An Aussie might be carrying a life-sized blow up kangaroo, or we’d spot French fans with their hair and faces dyed in the tricolors of the French flag.

Downtown Stuttgart swam in soccer fans.

The entire city turned orange on the days the Dutch team played.

Got beer?

Got beer?

One early afternoon several hundred British fans partied hard, getting more sunburned – and more inebriated – by the minute as they cheered on England.

He brought along his date

He brought along his date

Needs no caption

Needs no caption

Another day the Brazilians draped themselves in flags and samba-ed their way up our main pedestrian street, the Königstrasse, accompanied by musicians.

Go Brazil!

Go Brazil!

My husband joined us each night after he finished work. We’d grab a bite to eat and then head back to the main plaza for the evening match. The sides of the area that erupted with cheers when a team scored let you know: that was where the Italians were sitting. Or Portuguese. Or Americans. Or…

What Team Italy had planned for Team France in the final game...

What Team Italy had planned for Team France in the final game…

The German team was coached by Jürgen Klinsmann, a Schwab whose family still runs a bakery in a Stuttgart neighborhood. The team kept advancing! The mood in Germany grew more animated! EVERYONE stayed in a good mood.

Bella Italia!

Bella Italia!

France

France

Home team!

Home team!

It didn’t matter who won. (Okay, it did, it did!) Let me rephrase that: Fans cheered and groaned and stayed civil and good-natured no matter how the matches ended. The crowds swelled to over 100,000 people as it got closer to the finals.

Fan Sea

Fan Sea

The Königstrasse literally became a sea of happily excited fans.

DSC_4839It was a social happening: people from all over the world came to Germany to share these games together. You wanted to be in a beer garden or plaza or outdoor café, anyplace with a crowd of people. The 2006 World Cup Games is the greatest international event I’ve ever attended.

Merci Allemangne!

Merci Allemangne!

My adopted country is one hell of a host. Forget dour and uptight: these people know how to throw a party! Now if they could just hold the World Cup annually instead of every four years. And let Germany host it again, soon.  I’ll be wearing a team shirt and face paint. And I will be hollering, Let the Games Begin!

(All photogaphs can be enlarged by simply clicking on the image.)

Chugging Slowly Upriver in Northwest Burma, Part 2

We had arranged in Sittwe for a guide, a boat and a special day visa in order to travel on to the semiautonomous Chin State. The ethnic Chin struck a deal with the Myanmar government at the Panglong Conference. The Chin won’t fight for their own independent state. In return the government basically leaves them alone to manage their affairs.

As we headed up the river the small boat traveled slowly. It was the last day of the year, a calm morning with no winds.

Sky and water reflected one another like twin mirrors.

In a mirror

In a mirror

We sailed on for several hours, and I was overtaken by a sense of displacement that was complete. It was preternaturally still, so quiet and without movement that it seemed we had sailed to a place located somewhere between firmament and earth. It wasn’t quite attached to either.

Finally the boat came to a stop and we debarked and began our walk up into the first Chin village. The villages are extremely remote and what makes them extraordinary (for us anyway) is the fact that the Chin practice the art of tattooing. The tradition had been strongly discouraged by the government since the 60’s, and was believed to have almost died out.

In the villages we sailed to by boat, only the old women were reputed to still have the facial tattoos. The men had gone out into the jungle and gathered the materials necessary for the tattooing process. Several days of painstaking tattoo work ensued; only faces of  young teenaged girls were transformed.

We walked through the village with our guide talking to the locals.

Chin village path

Chin village path

Pigs and puppies tumbled on the path as people worked. The tamped dirt was cleared and clean.

After perhaps 20 minutes of walking through the village and watching and being watched, the female elders suddenly appeared to meet us.

Part 3 to be posted soon.

(All photogaphs can be enlarged by simply clicking on the image.)