Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Today is my grandmother’s birthday. She would have turned 106 years old. Incredible how time passes.

When my mother and I moved to Munich, Germany in the mid 1960s I was five or six years old at the time. It was supposed to be a temporary stay. My father was in the Air Force then but had to leave for Vietnam and my mother didn’t want us left isolated in the vast farmlands near the stateline of Iowa and Nebraska. So my mother decided to stay with her mother in Germany for the time being until my dad would return.

Life, fate, or whatever one would like to call it, would have it otherwise. Due to numerous unforeseen circumstances my mother and I, and eventually my father as well, would end up staying and living in Munich for the following 25 years or so.

My grandmother, or Oma as I would call her, was a fully integrated part of my life growing up. She helped raising me as both my parents worked full-time. She was a very old-fashioned and simple lady with a traditional mindset, believing that the world was changing too much and too fast. She had her own worldview and little quirks but that made her so much more special.

She was indeed somewhat disconnected from a world that was going too fast. Progress would somehow not include her. And she wouldn’t allow a new evolving society to dictate how she should live her life. She had her own way of doing things and dealing with problems. Which basically meant sticking with old traditions and a way of life which was less affected by consumerism and the mass-movements of the time but being more entwined with self-reliance and common sense.

Oma lived a life reminiscent of simpler times. And it worked. For her and for us. I was heavily influenced by this way of thinking. Show humility and be modest. One can do much better with less but is not less worthy for it. Always be kind and polite, even if others don’t reciprocate. Always be mindful of your surrounding and use common sense. She taught me things without having to explain it with a million words. I learned and just knew...by watching, by listening, by participating.

She always worked hard all her life. She made sure we were all fed, clothed and everything was in its place and order. To leisurely spend a Sunday afternoon or even taking a vacation was unimaginable in her mind. But she would always be there for me. Despite all the household chores, health ailments and other hardships, she would always take time for me and made sure I was taken care of.

I remember her heartfelt and infectious laughter and her big hugs. I remember her making the most amazing Apfelstrudel, Marble Cake or Topfenkuchen, a Bavarian-style Cheesecake, all made from scratch. I still have yet to find anything even remotely delicious as these extraordinary treats.

I remember her amazement being on an airplane for the very first time when she was already over 70 years old. We would took her on a trip along the Eastcoast from New York City down to Florida. It was quite an effort to convince her to finally go on a vacation trip with us. But she enjoyed every single minute immensely.

I also remember that evening when she would leave us forever after a long sickness, standing next to her hospital bed and having to helplessly watch her slowly slip away. But I also knew that she would finally find that well-deserved rest. As devastating this moment was for all of us she was going to a better place.

Today is the birthday of one truly amazing person.

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Oma.

George and I visited my grandmother’s grave at the Haidhauser Friedhof (cemetery) in Munich last month. It’s very customary for German gravesites to have an area to keep holy water, usually a bowl-shaped mold carved out of stone. The above photo is a close-up of the cover for the holy water.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Time Flies

Is life just passing us by? I had not have a chance to post anything on here lately. Too much going on at work, at home and everywhere in-between. Time flies when you’re having “fun.”

However, I’m not complaining. Life is still good. Great as a matter of fact. George and I just celebrated our sixth anniversary. Time does fly when you’re having fun.

Below are additional photos from our trip to Munich. Hopefully soon, we’ll get back into more up-to-date posts.

In the meantime, don’t let time fly you by.

Delta recently acquired Northwest Airlines, along with its fleet of Boeing 747-400s. The fuselage of this B747-400 at Atlanta's Hartsfield Int.'l Airport now shows the current Delta livery. The Airbus A380 may be the world's largest passenger aircraft and it is impressive but the B747 looks just more elegant.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Bayerische Staatskanzlei, the Bavarian State Chancellery in Munich. We used to play a lot in this area when I was a kid growing up. This place always fascinated me even if I was too young to understand its significance back then.

Of course, now I look at this place from a completely different perspective. It is a very quiet and somber place and the clean and modern lines used for this sunken monument are conveying a certain solitude.

A mostly defunct public underpass was turned into a space for contemporary art, called the Maximilians Forum. I remember when this was built back in the late 1960s. It was rarely used by people and always felt somewhat creepy. That hasn't changed much.

Shoppers in the Maximilianstraße, a boulevard lined up with government buildings, first-class hotels, theaters, luxury stores and high-end fashion boutiques. Munich's version of a smaller scale 5th Avenue, if you will.

We are spoiled here in Las Vegas where there's an abundance of free parking all over town. No such luck in Munich. The locals in Munich either need to purchase a yearly parking permit or have to constantly feed these automated parking meters with money or a pre-paid card. They can't be missed since these automates were installed literally everywhere.

Graffiti has already been a big problem back when I was still a teenager growing up in Munich. Now it seems even worse than ever and those "artists" now don't even spare historical buildings, which still seemed to be taboo a decade ago. This picture was taken in the trendy area of Schwabing along Hohenzollernstraße and only shows a lesser impact of a far bigger problem.

Monday, February 1, 2010


George and I weren’t much impressed with the highly anticipated iPad. Another big hoopla about nothing. I doubt this toy will be successful but what do I know. Isn’t it just an over-sized...and over-prized!!!...iPhone anyway?

One thing you can’t do with an iPhone, iPad or iPhool is spending an amazing day at Red Rock Canyon, just outside of Las Vegas. George and I went hiking on one of the many trails that takes you through bizarre desert rock formations or semi-alpine landscapes with breathtaking vistas. Recent winter storms left enough snow on the surrounding mountain summits, looking as if they were topped with powdered sugar.

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is only about a 30-minute drive from our house. We can even see some of the red stone walls and summits from our upstairs windows. We should visit this amazing place more often.

But sometimes life has other things planned for us. Hopefully it’ll allow us a couple more of these excursions though. Below are some impressions from our hike on Saturday.