Showing posts with label Your Story Matters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Your Story Matters. Show all posts

Monday, May 20, 2024

Your Story Matters, Chapter 22, We Aren't in Kansas Anymore


 Chapter 22

We Aren't in Kansas Anymore

 My mother's side of the family thought they were German. My grandparents came from Germany and joined a German community in Kansas. However, when my youngest daughter was growing up, she researched our genealogy and found we were Swiss. Maybe my grandfather was German. I never heard his story. 

When I learned about Hitler, I was ashamed of being German. However, when Neil and I drove from Germany to Switzerland, I found a Pharmacy with Hertenstein on the window—my grandmother's maiden name. 

While Neil and I were on his business trip in Germany, I suggested we drive into Switzerland, where blood never reached its shores—no shores; it is landlocked. At the time, I still thought I was German, and I knew that the Hartenstein’s had left Germany before the war because Mom was born in Kansas, and her mother, Great-Grandma Hertenstein, was the first of their children born on American soil. Her mother was pregnant on the boat. Imagine. 

We visited Lucerne, where we found a drugstore and the name Hertenstein, and where the incredible Rhine River tumbled voraciously over rocks, creating Der Rhine Fall. A glorious white swan stood at the cress of a water flow, withstanding the current. In Lucerne, Neil took his sat-upon glasses into an Optometrist's shop, where they repaired them for free.

Neil drove until we reached the end of the road facing the Alps, and coming back at twilight, we saw a little boy bringing home the cows. The air had that fresh, misty fragrance that comes after a rain. Droplets sprinkled our windshield, and through it all, we saw a little boy walking ahead of the cows with the cows following docilely behind. One of the cows trailed the others, and she was so pregnant she stopped, breathed a deep sigh, and labored on.

 We drove through the green countryside of Germany, where cows stood on green hillsides and yellow flowers dotted the green. Beside the roadway, immaculately manicured farms had their morning feather comforters airing out the windows. Off in the distance, we spotted a castle.

It was Neuschwanstein, "New Swan Castle," King Ludwig's castle and the inspiration for Walt Disney's castle in the Magic Kingdom. We hiked the hill from the parking lot to the castle while a horse-drawn carriage carried other tourists. While medieval looking on the outside, that castle has state-of-the-art appliances from the time it was built.

It had running water fed from a spring above and flushing toilets. The kitchen had a Leonardo De Vince-designed device for warming dinner plates. It was constructed from two pullies, with chain shelves between the two. Plates were loaded onto the chains, and the pullies pulled the contraption up behind the stove, thus warming the plates. 

King Ludwig adored Richard Wagner's operas, and many of the walls inside the castle were painted floor to ceiling with exquisite murals of scenes from Wagner's operas. It is said that King Ludwig was crazy, but I don't believe it. He loved beauty too much to kill himself, and then there is a mystery surrounding his downing in the lake while his psychiatrist lived—and there was money to be made. Dum de dum dum.

I was up before Neil one morning. I walked a path until I came to a cemetery awash in May flowers. Iron fencing enclosed many of the little plots, and there were so many flowers it was as though I was in a greenhouse. I watched an old man walk shakily to a faucet, fill a sprinkling can, and carry it to a grave, where he tenderly sprinkled the flowers.

I developed a bladder infection while in Stuttgart, and Neil and I went to a hospital. A young man, an orderly who could speak English, checked me in. I was embarrassed to tell him my problem. However, he told me his story. 

He said he was doing community service instead of being in the military, for he was a pacifist. After hearing that we were from Southern California, he told us that once, while surfing at La Jolla, California (right beside San Diego where we lived), he was hit in the face with a surfboard. He was taken to the hospital, where the doctors treated him so kindly that he vowed to treat others the same.

The doctor gave me medicine and said, "This is Wednesday. We'll bill you."


We were off to Copenhagen, Denmark (home of Legos), where I took a perfect picture of the Little Mermaid statue sitting on a rock in the bay. At night, we visited Tivoli, the exquisite mini Disney-like park under the romantic glow of a million (?) white lights.

In Amsterdam, we took a Long Boat through the canals and under the lighted arched bridges, and they served us so much wine and cheese that I could hardly walk off the boat.

We attended Holland's Floriade, a flower fair covering acres, where they asked if you wanted salt or sugar on your popcorn, and we walked around in the rain. 

This morning, Neil reminded me of the black horse we saw at the Floriade in Holland. I thought that horse was the most exquisite creature I had ever seen, totally black, head high, and with "feathers" on his ankles. I asked what sort of horse he was, and the man nuzzled by the horse said, "Dutch Horse." That didn't tell me much. I was in Holland, after all, but once back home, I looked up "Dutch Horse" and found it was a Frisian, a warm blood. (Frisians were favored by Knights of old for they are heavier than a light saddle breed, easy to train, and could carry all that armor they stuck on the rider and his horse. Think of Zorro's horse. We just watched the new Indiana Jones movie, where I recognized the black horse he rode galloping through the subway and down steps as a Frisian). The Floriade horse was tied to a long rope that extended to a canal boat. It was a demonstration to show how horses were used to pull the boats.

I just now looked up Frisian and found you can pick one up for $34,900.

That trip gave me a taste for travel, which I had the privilege of doing more of later.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Tuesday May 14, 2024

This morning, while tooding down the road toward town, I saw an airplane approaching the ground fast and steep. At first, I thought it was doing a touch and go, and then I saw that it was a bi-plane, pretty and yellow, spewing dust over a field—a crop duster. I hope whatever chemical he used was a good one, for sheep are often in that field, but they were elsewhere today.

The plane had an open cockpit, and it appeared that the pilot was having fun.  He would flow over the electrical lines, do a steep bank, turn and aim close to the ground again, and release whatever chemical he was dusting. Hubby and I had an aerial show.


Here is an offering from my grandson on how to find water in Africa. First, you must discover baboons, for they are skilled in finding water. And they like salt. So, you put some salt in a box with a hole large enough for a baboon to reach in, but he can't get his hand out since he doesn't want to turn loose of the salt. You cage him, give him more salt, and when he gets thirsty, turn him loose and follow him to water.

That sounds like a snipe hunt. When I was a kid, adults would send their kids off with a salt shaker, telling them if they sprinkled some on a snipe's tail, they could catch him. That occupied the kids for a while, and no one came home with a snipe.

"Any comments written while stoned will be called a high note." ( Not original.)

I posted Chapter 21, I Remember The Song of The Mediterranean, on Sunday, but I am leaving it for today. Next week will be Chapter 22, We Aren't in Kansas Anymore

Please scroll below.

Thanks for being here,


Tuesday, March 12, 2024





A reader commented that her favorite part of last weeks excerpt was when I shared the story of my first kiss. Then, she shared hers...

From TH:

"Oh Jo, I loved your sweet little first kiss mention. My favorite part! 

"My first kiss was from a neighbor boy a few years older than myself, who felt sorry for me having never been kissed and decided to rectify what he termed “my problem”. I guess that’s about as unromantic as you can get!"

However, later she commented that the first kiss from the love of her life, made her knees buckle. and she found out what she'd been missing.

I love it.!

Now, how about sharing yours, and say yes, if I have permission to print it. I will post your stories weekly.



CHAPTER TWO Continued from last week:





When I say, "Your story matters," I mean the real story, not the excuse stories—you know, the ones, "I'm not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, and I don't know the right people."

 Those are the "Ain't it awful" stories that some people repeat repeatedly until it fixes them in their brain so powerfully it would take an excavator to dislodge them."

Write your story to honor your life but look at it all so you can make sense of it and readjust it when needed. You can see where you've been and the people who influenced you. You might find out they were better than you thought. And you are better than you thought.

 You will find that you have picked up beliefs that no longer serve you. After all, you formed your fundamental belief systems when you were a wide-eyed little babe, taking in everything, smiles, frowns, words, laughter, tears, winks, eyebrow twitches, and shouts, with no filter system.

 These beliefs, impressions, and observations became locked in the subconscious mind.

And although the conscious mind thinks it's in control, it isn't. The subconscious mind is.

However, the subconscious mind is there to be utilized. We could think of it as our friend, not our enemy. One of the best explanations of the subconscious mind I have read came from the actress Angelia Lansbury:


One day, on a movie break, she launched into one of her favorite subjects: believing in her destiny. 

"Ah," she said, "I think perhaps I've phrased it badly. I don't mean anything magical or occult. Perhaps faith in the power of the subconscious mind would be a better way of saying it."

 "How do you go about tapping your subconscious mind?" an interviewer asked.

 "Heavens! I don't want to sound stuffy or highbrow, but it's awfully simple. If you tell yourself over and over again that there's no limit to the creative power within you, that's about all there is to it. Honestly, that's true."

 "It's there for everybody, like light and air."

 She explained that it isn't a cut-and-dried formula for success. You must keep plugging away, adding to your skills to be ready when an opportunity presents itself.

At age 92, Angelia Lansbury was performing on Broadway.


The people mentioned in this book deserve to have their stories told: June, the most upbeat person I have known; Jack, the war hero--shot down three times, twice the only survivor.  Bill, my writing buddy. 


A story not told becomes like an exquisite movie; when lost, it is forgotten.


I chose my parents. That's my belief, anyway. My dad might have felt shanghaied, but he seemed willing to contribute to making my body.

 One of my daughter's friends told her mother she believed she was conceived in the back of a Ford.

 "No," said her mother, "It was a Chevy."

 I didn't mean for Mom to feel guilty her entire life for getting pregnant at 16; I was happy she had me. I love the little girl I once was who ran while the breeze, soft as a feather's touch, brushed away the light skim of sweat from her skin. And older, she and her horse, Boots, pole-vaulted the orchard's cherry trees—not too close to the branches, but while doing it, she and Boots were at one with each other.

 I am curious how my mother's conversation with my dad went. Her best friend told me long after Mom was gone that she went with Mom to tell my dad he would be one. You see, the friend kept the secret, too, until I told her I knew I was conceived before marriage. I wish that friend was still around so I could ask about that conversation. I didn't realize Mom needed backup, but, hey, she was only 16.

 My mother didn't look like a 16-year-old. She looked like a healthy, voluptuous peasant from the hills of Switzerland. And since we lived with my grandmother, our family of grandmother, mother, father, me, and little dog Tiny worked out well.

Didn't we all come in as innocent little spark plugs ready to party? No wonder we get disillusioned when the party gets canceled. Or if our parents don't tell us that we need to sit down and shut up, the world does, "Who are you to question? Who are you who think you can be great? Many are called and few are chosen."

 Who are you, indeed?

 You are a magnificent child of God, like everyone else. So, stop denying your greatness, and live an exemplary life. That's what we came here for.

 Let's reboot.

 The voices of the world come in on us like pungent smoke. It coats our hair and lingers on our clothing.

 Why is that?

Well, who wants a bunch of Badasses running around thinking they are grand and, on top of that, knowing they can create the life they want?

 We do. That's who.