In a world of panicked political philosophers, delighted apocalypse-seekers, and news going from bad to worse, we all need an occasional break.
Mine came when I started reading less Facebook, and more Humane Pursuits. I’m not sure if it was an ISI.org friend, my mom, or my husband who pointed me in the direction of Humane Pursuits first, but I will be eternally grateful to whomever that I did eventually find it.
Humane Pursuits is great for three reasons: 1. It is uplifting and meaningful without being terribly political 2. It contains well-written and interesting articles 3. It has an easy-to-navigate interface that enables even the technologically-handicapped to find what they’re looking for, or to browse at random.
Imagine my delight when, several months ago, a friend of mine who writes for HP contacted me about being featured in one of Humane Pursuit’s upcoming series on creativity.
My mind was screaming YES PLEASE OH MY WORD I CAN’T BELIEVE IT but my fingers typed something to the very professional effect of “Elizabeth, I would be honored and delighted to be featured in your article etc. etc….”
All that to say… feel free to check out Elizabeth’s article, as well as the two others that precede my own feature. And while you’re at it, check out the whole website! Subscribe! Join the community! Spend more time enriching your mind, and less time on BuzzFeed.com.
Caio for now,
Here’s the link to the article, if you’re interested: http://humanepursuits.com/5-steps-finding-creative-groove-step-3/
Dropping McBryde off at the airport was hard. I loved having a family member/old friend here (he really is both in equal measures), and I’d really gotten used to having him around the house – randomly humming and scrolling through his blog while sitting on the couch, or sidling into the kitchen in search of snacks, or to ask me which filter I liked best on his Instagram picture.
However, the sadness of his departure was mitigated by two things: 1. I am sure he will try and get back over here before we move, and 2. IAN AND WILL ARRIVED THE DAY HE LEFT! In fact, I dropped McBryde and Tony off at the same time I picked Ian and Will up. They got to see each other for about 20 minutes in the airport before we had to split.
Let me take just a moment to brag about how Ian got here. That kid worked HARD. He took extra hours at the pharmacy where he works, and would often go back and forth between the college where he was taking classes this spring to go to work, and then back to school… and then back to work… We got his tickets through ABCTravel.de this past March, and as we FaceTimed and booked the tickets together, neither of us could hide the big grins spreading across our faces. I’m so grateful to have such good relationships with all three of my brothers, and knowing my (biggest)(youngest) brother was coming to visit me did me so much good back in the early days of transition.
Ian and Will were both pretty exhausted when I picked them up – the adrenaline of their upcoming adventure had kept them awake on the flight over. As I drove them through the German countryside on the way back from the airport, we talked non-stop about Germany – cultural differences, history and landmarks, and all the adventures that lay in store for the next few weeks.
McBryde had been to Europe recently, but this was a new adventure for Ian and Will. Everything was exciting: from the way the recycling worked to the endless walking trails and everything in between.
I didn’t give them long to recover from jet lag – just a day after they landed, we began exploring the surrounding area. We started with a hike down to the Moselle, where we met up for coffee (homemade cappuccinos to be precise) with our vintner friend, Andy. Andy was fantastic, as always. We drank our coffee in the mild sunshine beneath his grape-vine covered porch, and he told us all about his days as a German pilot, his early efforts in the art of grape-growing, and the prospects for the year’s crop.
We left an hour later, armed with a map and directions from Andy about the best hike nearby. We walked down toward the river through sweet-smelling rows of grapevines, and soon spotted the beautiful ruins of Beilstein castle towering above the picturesque town across the river.
We crossed with a ferry, the ferry-master had a Bavarian cap, which fascinated Ian and Will. I loved exploring with them – their excitement was so contagious. I actually held quite a decent conversation in German with a family that was also crossing the river, and was pleased to think about my progress in the language, compared to what it had been just a few months before. Ian and Will were eager to pick up the language, and were always asking: “How do you say ____ in German?” They really mastered quite a few good phrases during their time here.
We had a beautiful hike, and skipped rocks by the river as we waited for Aaron to join us after his work. We then went to dinner in a lovely little restaurant in Ellenz-Poltersdorf, the village where Andy lives. The food there is fantastic, and we got to introduce the boys to real German schnitzel.
In the days that followed we traveled all over the district – climbing up winding paths to take pictures on the top of ruined castles, seeking out the best radler in little biergartens in the valleys, and sampling far too many pastries.
One evening, we went to Himmerod Abbey and had dinner and explored the grounds and buildings, and even got a behind-the-scenes tour by a friendly pilgrim who had been working in the garden. The boys were delighted by this, and I thought they were going to pop from excitement when they were blessed by a passing Swiss priest.
Some of my favorite moments of their stay with us in Germany were the evenings, and the time we spent together in Muellenbach. After our adventures of the day, and Aaron’s return from work, the boys would help me set the table and get dinner ready, sometimes going into the garden for whatever fresh veggies we could add to our meal. One day I sent them out to get lettuce, and they returned with their arms literally full of salad – the next door neighbor had seen what they were doing and added about four plants’ worth from her own garden to supplement ours. After dinner, we would sit around inside (or more often on the back porch) and play board games, chat, and watch the late summer sun sink down behind the tree-line.
Often our thoughts and plans would focus on our upcoming trip together – to Paris! But that can wait until next blog post…
**Note: for those of you who don’t know, Will is not actually one of my three brothers – he is Ian’s best friend, and my best friend’s younger brother, so he’s family in all but blood. 🙂
Switzerland was amazing, but all good things have to end eventually. We eased our way back into reality by travelling through the Alsace region of France, and stopping for a day and night in the lovely city of Strasbourg. It was my first time in France, and I was really excited about getting a view of such a famous culture!
The strangest thing was… it wasn’t that strange! Because Strasbourg is so close to the German border, a lot of German culture has influenced the area. So even though we did get macarons at a macaron shop, there was a place selling bratwurst right next door!
We spent the night in a wonderful AirBnB constructed in the typical half-timbered style – a really neat building with windows overlooking the cobbled street below. As we sat that evening with the windows open to catch the elusive breeze, we heard snippets of conversation, someone practicing a piano, and the occasional bike-bell drift up on the warm air.
We had procured dinner from a grocery store outside of Interlaken before we left Switzerland, so we laid out our cheese and bread, and munched on it while we played board games. Tony had bought us a bottle of wine, but we came into difficulties when we realized we had nothing to open it with! Our search of the house proved fruitless (seriously – wouldn’t you expect a french guy to have a wine opener in the house?) so Aaron volunteered to take up the street to see if someone at the nearby restaurant could open it. He returned in triumph a few minutes later with the wine uncorked. We sipped it out of plastic cups, alas. Any true Frenchman looking in would probably have been disgusted by such barbarism.
We didn’t have much time there, but we certainly tried to use it well! We visited the neat cathedral that dominates the skyline with its lace-like spire and astronomical clock, and wandered the streets until we found the quaint historic quarter – La Petite France.
We saw the large stone bridge, the beautiful river and canals, and even got to glimpse a half-timbered house either being constructed or restored. Either way, it gave us a neat glimpse into how the building process worked.
Here, more than in any other area of the city, we felt at last as though we really were in France. Bakeries and crepe shops, nice menswear stores, and people passing us holding baguettes – everything deliciously stereotypical.
We ended our time with a crepe outside of a little creperie in La Petite France and considered our trip well worth it for the crepes alone.
It was our first taste of France, and it was lovely.