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July 6, 2008

Maine on the Fourth

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I spent the long 4th of July weekend at my sister's cottage in Maine. NB: In Minnesota, they are "cabins," in New York, they are "camps," and in Maine they are "cottages." We had a great time --- eating, resting, talking, reading, paddling around the lake on the paddle boat, more eating, watching fireworks, roasting marshmallows, going in to town, & repeating same. It was a good get-away. It's great to be closer to family.

We stopped at a restaurant nearby for lunch, and their menu featured home-made potato chips -- they were thin, crisp, hot, and sprinkled with bacon, onions, cheese, and a Gorgonzola cheese sauce. Totally decademt.

On the 4th, we went into the Town of Limerick and stopped at the Runaway Cowgirl's Hideout on the main drag. I was totally smitten by a large Newfoundland. He came right up to me very calmly, and I thought I had known him all my life. In fact, I could have sworn that there was someone I knew in that dog suit. It was quite remarkable - I can't recall ever having such a strong pull toward a dog. That's probably a good sign as I prepare to welcome Sierra into my life in just about a month.


Posted by hgroteva at 8:38 PM

July 10, 2008

Objects and Feeling at Home

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My office is beginning to feel like my home-away-from-home now that I have unpacked my coffee cups. I have this unique collection of coffee cups that goes back to the early 1970s. Each cup tells a story and evokes memories. I thinned out the collection a bit before I left Minnesota, but I brought most of them with me. (There are several more out of view on the right of the photo.) And I was able to find a good spot for my Amado Pe├▒a tile -- I like his work very much (he has Austin roots -- used to teach art at Austin High before he got famous and moved to Taos and Santa Fe.)

Briefly, here are the stories of the cups in the front row (L to R):
Black Forest Inn, Minneapolis - a wonderful German restaurant / beer garden with an outdoor patio - I've enjoyed a number of meals and happy hours here with friends.

A cobalt blue cup with gold writing: "President Bill Clinton - A Cure for the Blues" (with him playing the sax). I picked this up at National Airport when he was running for election. With all the bad economic news that seems to worsen by the day, we sure need a cure for the blues! How about it, Bill? I have an extra one - maybe I should put it on EBay?

The Arctic Cathedral; Troms├Ş, Norway. I've been to Troms├Ş twice -- once to present at a conference and once to do some teaching about adolescent development. It's the northernmost university in the world. One visit was during May, not too long before the summer solstice. It was light almost 24 hrs / day, and people were out all night long, soaking up every bit of daylight possible. My friend Jane has an amazing hutte (summer cottage) that is glass all-round with a thatched roof.

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Within a short time of arriving in the Twin Cities in 1990, I heard my first live SPCO concert and was smitten. We had season tickets most years and thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful music and the intimate group that seemed to have a real personality.

Star Ship Enterprise -- I picked this up when Mark and I attended a Star Trek Convention in Minneapolis when he was a teenager. It was a very special day, even though we weren't dressed as Captain Kirk or Spock. (Many other folks were...)

Sundance -- A memory of numerous trips to Sundance, some for professional conferences and some for fun.

As I look at each of these objects placed in my new surroundings, all the wonderful memories flood back and keep me centered.

In Vol 8 (1) issue of Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research (2008), Jane Kroger has a fascinating article that fits well: "Symbolic meanings of valued personal objects in identity transitions of late adulthood." She and her colleague interviewed 20 folks age 65 - 89 who were in residential facilities in New Zealand, and they all talked with her about various personal objects they had in their living units -- some of which would have made little sense to an outsider, but made perfect sense to them. I saw how important such objects were during my father's last two years, especially when he was in assisted living. My sister lovingly gathered photo albums, CDs of his favorite big band music, and plaques and awards from his career and arranged them so they would be easily visible every day. They talked through the picture albums numerous times. Even if he couldn't remember whether he had eaten dinner, he could name all his buddies from high school and the Navy.

Posted by hgroteva at 7:21 PM

July 18, 2008

Over the Rainbow


I have always enjoyed the travel that is part of professional conference-going. I just returned from the ISSBD conference in W├╝rzburg, Germany. We stayed away from the city (a good idea) and took the bus to the main bus station and then walked to the conference each day -- through the Ringpark -- a park that rings the city. Two mornings in a row, I caught this beautiful rainbow on the way to the conference. Who could have a bad day after that??

Posted by hgroteva at 11:50 AM

July 22, 2008

Views of W├╝rzburg

A few more views of W├╝rzburg before I move on.

Here is a view of the city and the River Main, taken from the Festung Marienberg (Marienberg Fortress).


Here's the fortress, taken from the old town side of the river. Much of the city was leveled by Allied bombers during WWII, and the fortress was seriously damaged. They have worked hard to restore it.


The museum in the fortress had artifacts, carvings, and fine art from many centuries back. Here is a carving of the "Death of Mary."

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And at the entrance to our hotel, we kept tabs on the mama and babies in the bird's nest each day. Nice serendipity.


Posted by hgroteva at 7:45 PM

July 28, 2008

Batman - 6 stories high

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Last night we went to see "The Dark Knight" at the IMAX theatre - what an experience. The IMAX at the Minnesota Zoo is the largest screen in Minnesota - 6 stories high. Although the story was OK, I was most taken in by the effects. At the beginning of the movie, the audience is gliding through the sky toward a huge downtown skyscraper - and almost collides with it. I truly felt like I was there and flying. There were a number of similarly compelling scenes throughout.

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Heath Ledger played the demented Joker. What a talented actor, taken from us in his prime - or maybe even before his time. Although I know that movie stars' personal and professional lives are totally separate (right?), I can't help but think that playing such a role wouldn't rub off a bit. In any case, his death was tragic, and we have been robbed of seeing his rich career flourish.

Tomorrow, Mark and I set out for Amherst with the Tribe. It's about 1400 miles, and we will do it in 3 days. I've been getting all kinds of advice about kitty tranquilizers, how best to transport them, etc. If I do go with tranquilizers, they may have to share them with me! Seriously - it should all be fine. When I visited them on Saturday, Pookie kept licking my nose as if to say: "I remember you!"

Posted by hgroteva at 10:49 AM

July 30, 2008

Traveling with the Tribe

Tuesday we began the journey with the Tribe back to Amherst. They have had the incredible good fortune to stay with a very loving and attentive foster family since early April, when the house when on the market. Bibiana, Kai Miok, and Lee have our unending thanks and appreciation!

The trip actually went better than I had feared. I read a lot on the internet and talked to many people about strategies for traveling with multiple cats. My sister lent me a large dog crate that fit 3 of the cats and their oval bed.

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Shadow went in a separate carrying bag - he would have popped out of the crate like a jack-in-the-box and incited a riot, if he could! I got kittie tranquilizers from the vet and gave a 1/4 tablet to Shadow. By 20 minutes, he was staggering like a drunken sailor. It seemed to take the edge off for him, but by the end of the day he was his usual active self.

When we got to the hotel (thanks to LaQuinta for their pet-friendly policy!) in Merrillville (or something like that) Indiana, the Tribe were all thrilled to get out and explore a bit. They were especially fascinated by the mirrors in the bathroom.

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They did a lot of sniffing etc. Sadie jumped in a dresser drawer and then promptly got behind the drawer and at the bottom of the dresser. Fortunately, she popped back up, because the bottom drawer was a false one and did not open.

Once they explored to their hearts' content, they settled in. All four found a space on what was to be my pillow. Hmmm - where will I sleep??

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They pretty much slept together through the night. Pookie found a warm corner on the floor and they all piled on, as they are wont to do. So Day One - so far, so good. We made it past Chicago. YUCK- I hate the traffic there, no matter which route. Several of the major freeways are undergoing major construction, so the remaining lanes are very narrow and the trucks are MANY.

Anyway, off to hit the road again. Round em up, move em out.

Made it to Erie PA by 6 pm. The driving was MUCH easier east of Chicago. The tribe seemed to be less anxious today - now they know the drill. Shadow didn't need medication. They love exploring the hotel room. Tomorrow night we will be home. They'll have lots new to explore there.

We made it home! The cats spent a lot of time sniffing out the new house. Unlike a one-room hotel room, here they have 2 floors and a whole bunch of rooms. But they are settling in and seem pretty happy. Phew! But the very best news of the day is that we have an offer on the house. Fingers crossed, but the buyer has verbally accepted our counter-offer. It's good we're all comfortable with technology. I was communicating with the realtor from somewhere on the New York State Thruway, and Susan was calling in from West Texas on her way east. We will be signing contracts pdf'd to us and faxing or pdf'ing them back to MN. But her favorite story is the closing she conducted when the seller was on a boat in the Suez Canal.

Posted by hgroteva at 8:10 AM