Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Love Story Chapter 3: Valentine's Day, 1969

Water color by Micah Halverson

It was barely light when I peeked outside that morning. The aroma of fresh bread and hot chocolate warmed my chilly room and I followed it downstairs for Früstuck. Salzburg breakfasts are worth getting up for. Baskets of crusty Semmeln (rolls) chewy and soft, frosted with unsalted butter and raspberry jam; white teapots filled with cocoa—sleepy students perked up, and the dining room awakened to quiet chatter.

Früstuck in Salzburg

Valentine's Day, 1969, started as usual. After breakfast I skipped upstairs to get ready for class, and there on my table was a little bouquet of daffodils. A blue piece of airmail stationery was folded and propped up with a note that said Zu die Marty für Valentine's. I remembered my solicitation for flowers and knew Dee was the delivery boy.

My roommates came in and the news traveled quickly around the hotel. I was a celebrity . . . a very minor celebrity, but we didn't have any others that day, so it was exciting.

Dee met me on the stairs, and I asked quietly, "Was it you?" He nodded, I gushed and blushed and we walked to class. At lunchtime there was an incident. A guy in our group, (who wore bright turquoise levis, by the way) was offended that someone had singled me out. He said we should be careful not to pair off; we should just be a big, happy family during our semester abroad. He didn't want anyone to feel left out, so he had a big bouquet of flowers with a card that said, "To all the girls, from all the boys." There may have been a few who were touched by this gesture, but I privately thought it was lame. Besides, I liked being singled out.

That night at dinner I looked around anxiously, having planned all day how I would casually sit down by Dee and flirt a little. He didn't come. Maybe he was embarrassed by all the notoriety.

Dom, Salzburg

The next day was Saturday and I went with my friends to tour Salzburg. We walked up Getreidegässe and bought gloves, scarves and hats, took pictures of the horse baths, and looked inside a few churches. I was distracted—shivery, weary and queasy. I hadn't received any mail from home yet, and suddenly six months seemed like forever. The novelty was past, washing my clothes in the basin was a pain, my bed was lumpy and I wanted my mom. Homesickness was new to me and it was awful. My heart started racing, I felt dizzy and like I was going to throw up.

Looking back, I think I had a panic attack. Realizing that I couldn't call, or get in touch with anyone I loved, thinking that someone could die while I was gone . . . all the emotions of being far from home for the first time overwhelmed me. Plus, I figured I'd blown the whole daffodil surprise completely out of proportion. Obviously Dee wasn't even going to talk to me again. It was a pretty miserable day.


Dee was having his own miserable day. Anxious to go skiing in the Austrian alps (but unable to afford it) he'd put together a ski trip for 25 of our students, arranged for ski rentals, buses, and lift passes, all so he could get a discount on his own. He acted as the translator while all the girls got their boots fitted (the clerk couldn't get over how big the American girl's feet were!) and finally they left for Kleinarl.

After they got to the ski area, Dee made sure everyone could get along OK, and then took his first ride up the lift. At the top he saw our buddy (the turquoise levi boy) laying in the snow, bleeding profusely. Getting off the ski lift, he'd stabbed himself in the leg with his ski pole.

Dee got the ski patrol and then stayed to translate, skiing down with the stretcher. He ended up riding in the ambulance back to Salzburg. It was his only experience on mountain curves at high speeds—his ski day was over.

The next afternoon, I was studying when Dee knocked on my door. He suggested walking down the hall to a little office. When we got there, he said he'd been anxious to apologize to me. He was afraid the daffodils had offended me! I quickly assured him that I was thrilled to get them, and we started talking. I told him about being homesick, and how I missed my family, and all about them. I thought later what a great conversationalist he was . . . he just listened and let me talk about myself for two hours! How cool can a guy be?

There was a poem on a calendar on the wall, and I asked Dee to translate it.

It means:

"You are mine, I am thine. This must you always remember. You are locked inside my heart, and the tiny key is lost. You must stay inside forever."

Our hearts were opening to each other. We were getting ready to invite each other in, and we were completely unaware of what that would mean . . . forever.

Immer noch.


I found the letters the week I had the Hong Kong flu. I was 18. I came home from college a week before Christmas vacation started, and collapsed, counting on my mom to nurse me back to health. Being a little self centered in those days, I had forgotten she was recovering from a hysterectomy where they discovered cancer (she had returned a week later for another more radical surgery) and was in bed herself. Plus, she caught the Hong Kong flu from me. We were both so sick it hurt to even move our eyes. I remember us laying in her bed together, moaning and comparing the new symptoms we got each day. Actually, it was kind of fun.

One day when our eyes were better, I went downstairs searching for something, and discovered an old green duffle bag full of letters. I brought them up to Mom's room and she said they were Dad's letters from World War II (he was in Australia.) We dumped them out on the bed and started reading. There were some letters from his parents, telling day to day stuff, and love letters from Mom as well as a few other girls. There were lots of letters he had written home, too. I read a couple of those, and then I ran into a letter from a friend of Dad's. He told about some wild weekend he had spent on leave, describing how he got some girl to take off her underpants. I started reading this one out loud to Mom and she was horrified...especially when she saw who it was from! She shuffled through a few more letters and found others that were from this same Romeo and she became disgusted. She packed all the letters back into the duffle bag and hauled them out to our incinerator, and burned them! Dad's war experiences went up in smoke! They aren't recorded anywhere.

When we moved several years ago I found a shoe-box of letters my Grampa had written my Grama when they were first married, in 1920. I had rescued them from a purging years before but had never read them. They were so tender! Grampa was working in a different state and he wrote to her every day. He was only 20 at the time, and he was very lovey-dovey and flowery. "To My Dimpled Darling"...."From your most loving Sweetheart" and lots of poetry and longing words. I was born when my Grampa was 50, so I couldn't imagine them as young newlyweds until I read those letters. I had found a treasure.

Letters were the mainstay of communication "back in the day." It was very expensive to call long distance, so when loved ones lived any distance from each other they had to write. When our family lived in England for a year we wrote and received letters every day. I asked people to save them for us, and they are a journal of our experiences there. The kids chronicled their homesickness, we recorded current events (the space shuttle disaster, bombing of Qadaffi in Libya, terrorist attacks in London) and we all expressed lots of love to those at home. I'm so glad we have that record.

Now I have "free" long distance (for a price, of course) so I can talk to everyone as often as I want, no matter where they live. This is a wonderful blessing since I have kids and grandkids flung across the country, but there is no record...nothing to save and reread in years to come. And so, a blog.

I love blogging. I just wish it had a better name. We are journalists, correspondents, photographers, historians, writers, artists, and graphic designers. Those titles sound so much cooler than "bloggers." Our writings will be as precious as any cache of letters would be, especially since there won't be any cache of letters to find...and nothing to burn.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Love Story Chapter 4: February 22, 1969

Me in Salzburg, 1969

Walking and talking—that's how we fell in love. After our Sunday talk we were together every day. Dee took his camera and asked me along. That first week we hiked to the Festung, "jogged" through the marble quarry, fed the ducks, strolled to the Post Office, and visited the camera store, knipsing photos and nattering all the way. We had such diverse things in common.


Walking over the footbridge to Salzburg, we noticed some men cleaning the banks of the river. Dee told me they were government employees doing welfare work projects. I commented that it sounded like the WPA. Dee couldn't believe that I knew about the WPA, and we had a long, involved conversation about Franklin D. Roosevelt.

I told Dee about a Young Democrats Rally I'd attended at BYU to hear Bobby Kennedy speak. Dee had been president of the Young Democrats at the time. Peter, Paul and Mary were my preferred group; I'd seen them on one of their first tours to Salt Lake City when I was in 9th grade. Dee had a tape of that very concert. His favorite songs from the concert were "Car, Car" and "Le Deserteur" and those were mine, too.

Salzburg Festung

I talked about Herr Bruderer, my German teacher in high school who was zealous about German history, WWII, and linguistics. And Mr. Tolman, my political science teacher who, even as a prisoner of war near Berlin, had come to love the Germanic culture in a roundabout way. Because of these teachers, I was in Austria. Dee was reading history books before kindergarten, and was majoring in European Studies and Geography before he went to Germany for a two-year stint as a Mormon missionary. How many swooning couples can weave these topics into their sweet nothings and find passionate agreement? We were meant for each other!

Marty at Salzburg Shrine

We walked and talked for hours. I made it very clear that I already had a boyfriend, and Dee made it clear that he staying in Europe that summer to work. We both understood there would be no long-lasting romance here, so we totally relaxed into a friendship. Then my roommate Judie bet me that I couldn't get him to kiss me before Saturday. I rose to the challenge.

After six days of walking and talking in Salzburg, we decided to go to Munich. Ray Clifford was a graduate TA and he and his wife Karen lived in The Steinlechner Hotel with us as chaperones. Newlyweds, just a few years older than us, they had bought a VW for the semester. We chipped in for gas, and made the 90-minute trip with them Saturday morning.

Hofbrau Haus, Munich

We bought me a Dirndl, toured the Frauenkirche, saw the Glockenspiel, and went to the Hofbrau for dinner. It was a glorious day, but it was almost over and I was losing my bet.

The drive home was cold, dark and foggy. Dee and I cuddled up in the backseat and he put his arm around me. (Up until then, he hadn't made any moves.) I put my head on his shoulder, and kept my lips puckered up just in case.

Ninety minutes is a long time to stay in kissing position without any action. My charms failed me. Dee said goodnight and Judie met me at the door with her hand out. Secretly, I told myself I admired him for respecting me. Even more secretly, I wondered what was the matter with me. Wasn't I kiss-worthy?

Dee in "The Apt."

Exploring the next night, we found a room in the attic of our hotel. It was tiny, with a couch, table and chair, and a carved wardrobe stuffed with linens. We nicknamed it "The Apt" (for apartment) and claimed it for our study.

Lunch had been special: Wienerschnitzel, Rotkohl, and Cremeschnitte for dessert. Now we had sack suppers, an English newspaper and a quiet evening ahead. Dee unwrapped his cheese sandwich and I took a swig of Quark. It was a sour, chalky tasting substance that looked like yogurt, and I shuddered. Dee laughed. I remember we were standing by the window, and then, very softly, he kissed me. Just once. It was too sweet to gloat over.

I don't think I even told Judie.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Love Story Chapter 5: February 24, 1969

I can still picture it.

Monday morning I saw Dee at breakfast. He was already sitting with some others so I said "Hi" in that awkward day-after-the-first-kiss kind of way. We had classes, and then we sat together, with a group, at lunch. It was fun, and we teased and laughed easily. Dee said he was going to study in the "apt" that afternoon. He didn't invite me, but I figured he'd told me because he hoped I'd join him. After about an hour I took a candy bar upstairs. The door was closed so I knocked and then opened it. Dee was sitting on the couch with another girl.

Her name was Susan and they were looking at her camera. How stupid could I be? Of course he'd like a girl with a camera! He loved cameras! I was an idiot to think the kiss meant anything. For all I knew, he'd bet HIS roommate he could kiss ME! I'd told him I had a boyfriend . . . what was I thinking? That he liked me? Who likes a girl who talks about FDR?? Stupid, stupid, stupid!!! And I just walked in on them! Oh, how dumb! I quickly handed him the candy bar, backed out of there, and fled.

Down in my room I could feel tears prickling behind my eyes. Could I be jealous? We were just friends, weren't we? I'd only known him a week. He wasn't even my type! Besides, supposedly I was in love with my boyfriend . . . of course I was. This was just a little fling, after all. What did I expect? I was just embarrassed by the situation—no big deal.

By mid-afternoon I had a roaring headache and an upset stomach. What would I do when I saw him? Just act normal? Act like I didn't notice or care? I couldn't show how humiliated and hurt I felt. It was all a disaster. He didn't like me after all. He'd probably liked Susan all along.

The Infamous Susan

I came down to dinner late and sat with a group at a big table. Dee came and sat in the only seat left, at the other end. I smiled and acted totally put-together and casual. Susan happened to be sitting at the table, too. I ignored her. Everybody was talking and the subject of having kids came up.

"How many kids do you want?" someone asked at my end of the table, and I said "Twelve."

"Marty wants 12 kids!" and then from the other end someone else said "Dee wants 12 kids, too! You guys ought to get together!" It was kind of amazing. This was 1969, birth control was the new thing, population explosion and women's lib—nobody wanted 12 kids! Yet here we had each independently told a group that we did. The conversation went on, but it was like we were the only ones at the table when we smiled at each other.


There was a concert downtown that night, and some of our students were performing with the University orchestra. I came downstairs ready to go and saw Susan walk up to Dee. I kept my distance, and then when a group started to leave I joined them. Right then Dee came up behind me and took my arm, asking if I was ready to go. Part of me felt so relieved and happy I wanted to cry. The other part of me bristled that he was acting like we were a couple, when he had been dallying with another woman all afternoon while my heart was breaking. The relieved part of me won out, I let go of my pride and we strolled downtown together.

Salzburg at night

After the concert we went to the Blaue Gans, a restaurant we have been back to many, many times over the years. Dee bought me dinner, (one of only 2 times the whole semester that we didn't go Dutch) and we had our first "relationship" talk. He asked me what was the matter (I had been less than perky, in that totally annoying, girlie way) and after very little coaxing I told him how embarrassed I'd been to walk in on him and Susan. He told me it was unplanned, that she had just gone to that room to study as well, and it was very uncomfortable for him, too, knowing how it looked to me. We both told each other how much fun we were having together, and reminded ourselves that we already had individual future plans, so we could enjoy our time in Salzburg without strings.

We had weathered the storm. Our friendship was in tact. We walked home feeling at ease, and relaxed. We held hands, but there was no kiss goodnight. We were on solid ground. I hated Susan.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dream Daughter

I had the dream again. It's the dream where I've lost my baby and I'm searching between all the cars in the parking lot trying to find her. People are helping me, but I'm panicked and I can't find her anywhere. Then I see Marta helping me search. That's when I realize it's only a dream. Marta's the baby I'm searching for, and I suddenly remember she's not lost, she's just grown up! It's the only repetitive dream I've ever had, and I started having it when two of my daughters got married within a few weeks of each other. At one of their bridal showers a friend pointed out the meaning: I was losing my babies!!

I think the dream happens whenever I rediscover what awesome people my babies have become. Yesterday I went to lunch with Marta and she blows me away! She's 25, and married to Dan who is in law school. He studies like crazy and has a part time job in another city, but she never complains about being on her own most of the time. She has 3 jobs, plus her own card design company. She works from 8 am until 6 or 7pm, rides the bus home in the dark, and then works for clients that are spread coast to coast. In between all that she hosts showers and luncheons, dinners and open houses, with darling decor, favors and handmade invitations. She's an awesome cook and brings cookies and treats to work regularly. She teaches the 5-year-olds every Sunday at church, is on the Activities Committee planning parties for 300 people, visit teaches 4 college girls with crazy schedules, and she's a designated invitation maker for Enrichment Night.

She loves to make personalized cards, books (which she binds herself) and collages. She surprised Dee with one using photos of antique cars. Not just any antique cars...the exact ones he loves. She searches dictionaries and quote books for very individual words, and creates unique gifts representing the person she's honoring. Her work has been displayed in art shows and libraries, and she's been honored for her designs. She doesn't spend a lot of money, but she spends hours and hours, and her creations are priceless.

Marta has 28 nieces and nephews of various ages who she dotes on. She buys them presents, sends cards, babysits...the older ones are like the younger brothers and sisters she never had. She advises them on dates, prom dresses, colleges, and even drove all the way to California with an 18-year-old nephew. She loves and visits Dan's grandparents, taking treats and going on outings with them. She's an awesome, attentive daughter and sister to her family and her in-laws, starting many traditions and supporting the old ones. She has many friends, and has gained lots more by marrying Dan; she emails and blogs creatively to keep in touch and build these friendships.

Her major role is being a wife. She's been married for over 5 years, and yet they act like newlyweds. She adores her husband (who is adorable) and tries to be available for fun whenever he is. She secretly saved money so they could get a new car, and surprised Dan with the means to move to a new state when a great opportunity came up. She is positive and upbeat, creative and funny, organized and efficient and unselfish beyond belief.

I realized yesterday that she literally will give the shirt off her back. She tried on a shirt she really liked, but it was $60 and she couldn't afford it. She makes about $20 an hour. Three hours of work would buy the shirt. I know she's given at least 3 hours of her time recently, unpaid, to help with invitations for a church function. This is the exact kind of work she would otherwise be paid for! I know from experience that helping someone is much more time consuming and tedious than just doing the work at your own speed, yet she patiently worked with the person, borrowing time from her marriage, her other projects, and money from her budget. Her generosity is her gift to others.

When Marta was little she had an imaginary friend named "Gnome." He went everywhere with her, and we always saved a seat for him at any event. She carefully lifted him onto his seat, and made sure he was comfortable, and never forgot to include him. It seems she was practicing for real life. If she was that nice to an imaginary friend, you can imagine what she's like with her real ones. I'm so glad she's one of mine!! My dreams came true. I didn't lose a baby, I gained a friend.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

If I get to Heaven

Austria 2008

♫ Oh you can't go to Heaven on roller skates, you'll roll right past those pearly gates...♫

Heaven sounded fun then when I was a sang this song in my grandma's backyard. We made up verses about everything and everyone we loved, and we were all going In my teen years I started picturing Heaven boring, with really old "Holier-than-thou" types of people just reading scriptures all day and whispering a lot.

As I've gotten older it's occurred to me that Heaven will be full of the most awesome people that ever lived! Everyone will be learning forever, and people won't be sick or depressed or poor, so there will be enthusiasm and happiness, and laughter. Minds will be expanded and all the scientific theories will be understood and put to use in the most positive ways.

I have great hopes for Heaven. One of the things I want to do is travel through time. I'm picturing a library/theater where we check out very high tech DVDs that offer virtual reality. When we watch one, we can actually be in the action, as an observer, and visit and experience times and places we've read about.

Another heavenly dream is that we'll have opportunities to develop new talents. I'm planning on singing in choirs and hootenannies (you might not remember them, but they're fun), and Barbershop Quartets, and performing onstage with John Denver. There will be all kinds of great music there: Dixieland Jazz, Handel's Messiah, Broadway, Beethoven, and camp songs with Sue Petty. I'm going to take lessons on the mandolin, the guitar, the banjo, and the balalaika. And I hope to team up with great musicians and write lyrics. There will be teachers of every kind and level available who will be supportive and encouraging.

I want to attend seminars taught by great leaders and teachers sharing their wisdom and experience. For their encores I want them to repeat their famous mortal teachings, in one of the virtual reality ways, so I can experience it as it was. I want to stand in the rain and hear the Gettysburg Address, sit in front of the radio and hear Winston Churchill say "We'll fight on the beaches..." I want to watch and listen as Jesus blesses the little children, and they're encircled by angels.

Heavenly Father is the ultimate artist. Look around at His creations! He created the original landscapes, seascapes, color combinations, textures, balance. Won't it be awesome to study in depth and learn techniques of design in such an atmosphere?

I'm sure every interest and subject will be available to explore and enjoy. Heaven will be perfected life and it will last forever!
"If you get to heaven before I do, Just drill a little hole, and pull me through!"

These are a few things I'm anticipating. What sounds heavenly to you?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Organize It!

I am an organizer. I spend days and weeks organizing things in order to save seconds and minutes. Someday it might equal out and I'll have all the saved seconds and minutes hooked together into an extra day...then I'll re-organize!

I've had a request (well maybe it was just a polite comment) that I should share Oma's Organized Packing System. I'm thrilled to share! This has taken me years of trial and error, and it's always evolving, but I have some discoveries that have worked for me.

These are my secrets: I have made several "kits." I use makeup bags (that come free with cosmetic gifts,) or ziplock bags as my kits, and I identify them with permanent marker. I always restock them as soon as I get home, while I still remember what I ran out of, so they are ready for the next trip. I throw all these packed kits into my suitcase so that when I'm packing for a particular trip, I can choose the ones that are applicable. There's a typed list inside my suitcase so my clothes are quickly chosen, the "extras" found and packed, and the kits picked based on the type and length of trip. I use small, travel-sized items in each kit, which I just refill at home, and keep the kits about the size of a sandwich ziplock bag.

"Night Stand Kit." This holds chap-stick, a little flashlight, nail file and clippers, hand cream, kleenex...the little things I always keep in my night stand. When I unpack, this immediately goes in the drawer next to the bed.

"Toiletries Kit" for the bathroom which has cosmetics, etc.

"Femmies Kit" for the back of the toilet, with unmentionable necessities.

"Makeup Kit" is separate from the cosmetics, so I can use it in the bedroom while Dee showers.

"Laundry Kit" for overseas trips when we'll do laundry in our room. It consists of a few hanger type clothespins, a tube of liquid detergent, and several 2 gallon ziplock bags folded inside each other. I put a little detergent and some water in a ziplock, along with a pair of socks, zip it closed and squeeze it several times for a little washing machine action. Rinse and hang. Cinchy. Dee does his own washing, and we alternate nights so there isn't too much drying at a time. I include a tiny mending kit, a couple of buttons and several safety pins of various sizes in the Laundry Kit.

"First-Aid Kit" has Neosporin, Band-Aids, a tiny plastic bottle of alcohol, and a variety of o-t-c heart-burn, pain and nausea meds, plus a list of our prescription meds, phone numbers of our doctors and pharmacies, gauze, aloe, and a needle.

"Secretary Kit" holds a little pair of scissors, a tiny stapler, paper clips, elastics, a little calculator and a checkbook register to keep track of expenditures. I keep a little roll of tape, and a pocket knife in there, plus an envelope for receipts, a coin purse to hold the money not needed in that country, and a phone charger.

"Map Kit" is unique for each trip, with maps, itineraries, and applicable pages torn out of guide books and stapled together. Travel documents for car rental, hotel addresses and confirmation numbers, etc. are kept here. I use a plastic school folder for this kit that slides in a side pocket of the suitcase. I love to personalize a city street map with stars and circles pointing the way to the restaurants we've read about, and the stores I've just got to visit. I create a pocket size, personalized guidebook/map, with important addresses, numbers and store hours written in the margins. The maps are handy in the side pocket upon arrival, to throw into the glove compartment, or my purse.

I use a large black microfiber LeSac bag as a carry-on bag. It holds my book, a neck pillow, pashmina, cloth shoe bag with a pair of little black socks, and an "Airplane Kit." The Airplane Kit has the items I need handy in the airplane pocket, such as chap-stick, lotion, kleenex, iPod, advil, and a chain for my glasses. Nothing inside the bag is heavy, so it's easy to carry through the airport, and it gives me a footrest when I'm sitting for hours waiting for connecting flights. I have a tiny velvet jewelry pouch in my purse where I put my jewelry when I take it off for security. When I get on the plane, I take out my book and Airplane Kit, slide them in the seat pocket, take off my shoes, put on the socks, and pack my shoes in the shoe bag to replace in the carry-on. I take out the pashmina and pillow and stash my purse in the carry-on bag and put it under the seat. I use it as a foot stool during the flight, and I don't have to get into it until it's time to land. I don't have to search for wayward shoes, or several items stuffed in overhead bins, since it's all together. If we rent a car, I leave this bag in the car (but I take my book), since it's unnecessary in the hotel room.

When I pack, I choose the smallest wheeled bag possible. I need to be able to lift it over my head when it's full, while I'm wearing a jacket, and holding a purse. I take 2 knit tops, or T's (usually blue and green,) a striped button down shirt, 1 white camisole, 1 pair black levis, 1 skirt (denim, or black for church), red sweater set, jean jacket, a couple of scarves, 1 pair of comfortable shoes for a skirt, PJ's and a maximum of 4 sets of underwear. I use mesh and velcro packing cubes, with outfits packed together. I always bring a washable laundry bag for a hamper. I use another little "Jewelry Kit" to take long pearls and pearl earrings, and some casual silver jewelry. On the plane I wear black pants, a black lightweight sweater set, black shoes for pants, and turquoise and silver jewelry. I throw in the kits that apply, and my jacket goes inside, on top of everything for easy retrieval. I also take a mini umbrella, if necessary. I take less clothes for a weekend trip, but never more, even when we go for 3 weeks. We'd rather find a laundromat than haul heavy suitcases.

Dee always takes "disposables." A shirt or shoes that are almost worn out take their final trip and get left behind. It lightens the load, especially if we want to get some new things there. The only down side to my packing system is that because I stick to the same color combinations, even though the actual clothes change over the seasons and years, I always look the same in all the photos!

Except for clothing, everything is always packed and ready to go. But there are a few "extras" I have to add each trip. They are: wallet, passport, phone, iPod, camera, current book, tickets and applicable travel info, prescription glasses and sunglasses, and Rx enough for the trip. I keep a packing list (clothing items) and "extras" list inside the suitcase with the kits. I can pack in 10 minutes! Unpacking is just as easy, because after refilling the shampoo bottles, jotting down a list of needed items for re-stocking, I just throw all the kits back into the suitcase along with the packing cubes and a dryer sheet to freshen things up, and put it all away. I wipe off the shoes, and dump my laundry bag into the washer. Then there's the fun of going through the treasures and putting them in appropriate boxes and shelves for later perusing.

I sometimes take an extra LaSport sac that folds down into it's own case. When it's unfolded it can be filled with extras and checked as an extra suitcase. When I use it, I stuff it full of dirty clothes and use the suitcase to pack the souvenirs we've picked up along the way. Often we find a post-office and send some of our stuff home. We always accumulate lots of books, and the bookstore will sometimes ship them for us, or we ship them book-rate for less money. They take a couple of weeks to get home but it saves a broken back, and several dollars. Post offices have boxes and packing materials and tape, so we just do it all right there.

I love planning every aspect of a trip, even down to the packing. It's so fun to plan the trip of a lifetime, and creatively organize it into 14 days, or organize clothes for a week of romance and sophistication into 2 small packing cubes. When I'm organized, each worry and concern can happily be filed in it's appropriate folder and I'm free to have fun!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Details! Details!

On our kid's birthdays we have a tradition of "The Birth Story." After the candles and cake, everyone listens while I recount what was going on in the world around their arrival, how happy we were when they were born and all the exciting details. Pete was born the day before my 30th birthday. Very easy to remember. All his life I've told the story of how he was born on Tuesday morning at 3:00 am. About 7 years ago I got a new son-in-law whose sister is one day older than Pete. The first time he heard Pete's story he said I was wrong!! How could I be wrong? I was there!! Well, his sister was born on Tuesday. I looked it up in my journal. It said Pete was born on Tuesday. I looked it up on the internet. Pete was born on Wednesday.

The other day Dee came home from our storage garage with a folder containing my 1969 Salzburg diary. It seems I've got some details wrong! When I asked Dee to go to the Folies-Bergere with us, we were in an elevator according to the account I wrote that night, and not in the lobby. And it wasn't Folies-Bergere, it was the Lido. Except a few years later I wrote that our conversation took place in the lobby, and I said the bus incident took place on the 11th, not the 10th. But my diary says the 10th, although it said it wasn't a beautiful day when we arrived in Salzburg, it was snowing. Hmmmm....I never bothered to check my sources, but then aren't I the source? And does it matter? I mean, do you really care??? It's not like anybody is going to question me under oath or anything.

That's what this is all about. Since I didn't know the details would be important, I didn't keep track of them very carefully. But what if I was running for president? Would I be accused of lying, or flip-flopping? Would someone from Salzburg step forward and say, "She's a fraud! Her stories have changed!!" Would the nurse from the hospital testify of my 20 year deception? Would someone decide I really didn't meet Dee, or have Pete, since I can't remember all the details correctly? Would they claim I made it all up? I just think it's interesting.

Try it yourself. Write down all the details you remember of an important event in your life that happened 15 or 20 years ago. Then ask someone else who was there to describe it from their memory. Maybe you'll find some differences. Maybe you've said it was March and now you realize it must have been April. Whatever. It still happened. You were there! If it's something you really want to remember, write it down somewhere (maybe a blog). It may not be 100% accurate, but don't let it get lost in the details.


I love downtown nights. When we lived in the suburbs our dog barked during the night, and raccoons played in the bushes and garbage cans. Other than that it was pretty quiet. I'd get up to see why the dog was barking and it was too dark to see anything outside. I don't like darkness or silence. If there's too much of either one I get scared and start seeing shadows and hearing footsteps. Actual shadows and footsteps seem comforting to me. It means I'm not the only one awake.

We live near a hospital and a fire station now, so there are often sirens, which make me feel protected. I can hear people walking home late, laughing and talking, as their shoes click along the sidewalk. There's a parking structure over a couple of blocks that's empty at night, and there are some kids that skateboard there. They ride the elevator up to the top and then cruise down eleven levels. It's lit, and I can see them in their baseball caps, and hear them call to each other. I often wonder if their moms know where they are. There are office buildings with lights on throughout the night. I can see people working late, sitting at their computers, or talking on the phone.

Right now I'm listening to someone's music as they wait for a red light, and I can hear our clocks all ticking at different paces. Dee is snoring. I've got my window open and it's raining, and a car alarm is going off down the street. I love to sit out on our deck late at night and just soak it all in. It makes me feel connected and part of the world.

I've always had insomnia, but even when I'm tired, I don't want to go to bed. I don't want to miss the night.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love Story Chapter 6: February 25, 1969

Carl Larsson

I'll never forget That Tuesday. I sat at the table in our "apt" studying the biography of Martin Luther "auf deutsch." It was slow going. The book was 800 pages long, and I was getting paper cuts from my German-English dictionary. Finally I decided I would just read and see how much I could absorb from the few words I understood. (Basically, I was inventing his life in my imagination.)

Another Marty

Suddenly I had an epiphany. I moved over to the couch to explain my new insight to Dee:

In the 14th century, church services were spoken only in Latin and the Bible was only in Latin. Martin Luther's congregation spoke German. Stained glass windows illustrated the stories—they were the main translation people had. Since they couldn't understand the Gospel as it was being taught, they had to make up their own version, based on what was familiar to them, just like I was doing with the biography.

Die heilige Familie

Luther got the church all upset because he wanted to hold services in German. Eventually he even translated the Bible into German. At last the scriptures were available to regular folks and they could study things out for themselves. Without understanding most of the words, I had caught the spirit of Marty's life.

As I was telling Dee my thoughts, I started feeling very strange. My heart started racing, and I could feel my pulse pounding. Tears tickled my eyelids like I was going to cry. Suddenly, without a doubt, I knew Dee was going to be my husband. I lost track of what I was talking about, and then I saw Dee looking at me in a very searching way. I said, "I don't know what's happening to me." He said, "I don't know either, but it's happening to me, too." He stood up and said, "I think we're supposed to get married!" in a panic-stricken voice. Then he turned quickly and left.

I have since had other personal inspiration, and I now recognize the pounding heart, the tears, and the overwhelming knowledge of truth that comes. But I had never experienced it before. I don't think this kind of revelation comes to everybody about who they should marry, but it came to us That Tuesday.

After Dee fled the scene, I sat there wrapped up in what I was feeling and what he'd said. One of my first thoughts was, "OK, I know he's The One. I guess we need to get to know each other, and fall in love."

Salzburg in the Rain

I waited all afternoon for him to come back. Finally I went to my room, and then down to dinner. He never showed up. It was pouring rain outside, and I was starting to really worry about him. What if this had given him a heart attack? What if he'd just run away? Had I imagined the whole thing? Maybe he didn't say married . . . he could have said harried, or buried . . . maybe he just thought we both had the flu . . . maybe he had dashed out because he had to throw up. All the certainty of the afternoon was fading into doubt. I'd never heard of this happening.

It was Fasching, the traditional Austrian carnival season, and there was a dance that night. Everyone was going. I didn't know exactly what to do, so I decided to go without Dee. I was outside when a car pulled up and he got out. He rushed over to me and hugged me with one arm. "Everything's fine," he said, and miraculously everything was. On the bus he told me about his day.

He had felt the same sudden knowledge that I had felt. It was scary and unexpected, but definite. Needing to think, he had gone walking. When it started raining, he dropped in on one of our professors.

Doug Tobler, 1969

He didn't know Dr. Tobler very well, but he trusted him, and found himself pouring out his heart about our experience that day. Dr. Tobler didn't seem skeptical, which calmed Dee down a bit. Something similar had happened when he was dating his wife Carole. He said that although they were young and poor, getting married was the best decision he'd ever made. They lived on $5 a week for a while, but didn't regret their choice. He advised Dee to "Go with it. See where it leads. You have a few months. Just see what happens."

A sense of peace settled over us, even though we were overwhelmed with what this meant. It was a little like the Martin Luther book. We didn't really understand it, but we had caught the spirit. We would have to wait to translate it all and decide what to do, but in the meantime we could trust our feelings.

That night at the dance I saw a whole new side of Dee. He was dancing the Twist! (That was way before my time. I danced the Surf.) We had so much to learn about each other, so much to talk about. It was beyond exciting. I'd never felt this way before.

"Sehr schön."

On the bus home we cuddled and whispered. An endearing little lady in a hat with a feather was sitting across from us. She smiled wistfully, and told us love must be wonderful. "Die Liebe müss schön sein." Jawohl.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Love Story Chapter 7: Young Love, 1969

A Brave Start


After our talk That Tuesday, I started to think about it. What were the important things? Hobbies in common? Interests in common? Similar childhoods? Religion? Financial or social standing of our families? Did we look like a couple? Should I get out the old Seventeen Magazine checklists to identify if Dee was the right guy for me?

The funny thing was that I didn't care about any of that. I knew. Deep in my heart I knew I loved him. I wanted to always have him in my life. None of the questions mattered a bit. I loved his heart. I loved how I felt with him. I remember thinking I ought to pray about this, but I didn't want to. What if I got a "No" for an answer? (I later realized that Heavenly Father helped us find each other under the perfect circumstances. He'd said "Yes" before I even thought to ask the question. That's actually why it felt so right.)

What's it like?

At 19 I didn't even know what I liked, let alone what Dee liked. How did I know what kind of father he'd be? I'd never met his parents, and I'd never seen the house where he grew up. I didn't know a single one of his friends. Because we were living for 6 months out of one suitcase, and everyone cut each other's hair, I didn't really even know how he dressed, or what he looked like in real life. He didn't know anything about me, either. We had none of the props that people usually judge each other by. We just walked and talked. I got to know how he thought and how he felt, what his values were. That's what we shared with each other, and that's what we fell in love with. Winter became spring and we blossomed, too.

Just the two of us.

I've often thought that shared interests and hobbies are overrated. So what that you both like tennis? Real life happens in the kitchen. If you can have fun together on the tennis court, that's awesome, but a marriage takes place in your hearts and home. It's based on how you support each other through life's ups and downs, how you show the other you're on their side, and what you do to face problems together. We love to travel together, but sickness, money woes, flooding basements and wrecked cars are faced on a more frequent basis than planning a trip. The trip is the reward for getting through the day-to-day. A great quote says "Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." Love can make life enjoyable and happy while we endure it's challenging moments.

The weeks after That Tuesday were mind and heart expanding to me. I was like a caterpillar who had just emerged as a butterfly. It was spring, and I had felt myself metamorphosis from a flighty girl into a mature young woman, with purpose and new-found wisdom. I was in love. I just knew.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Love Story Chapter 8: March, 1969

So it was time to dump the boyfriend.

This was embarrassing, because in my pre-true love days (just two weeks before) I had assured him I loved him, and even thought I meant it. We had dated for about three years, and I knew his whole family, even his grandparents and cousins. He wasn't really who I wanted to marry, but I thought he might turn out to be, after we'd grown up. I had grown up now, and he was still a kid on a mission.

He was in Brazil. The day I arrived in Salzburg I'd sent him a package of candy for a birthday present. His birthday wasn't for eight weeks, but I couldn't afford airmail, and surface-mail took forever. I'd been sending him letters every day for a year. Since my love affair with Dee had been so sudden, I hadn't done any "prep work." This news would come as a total shock. Even worse, I also had to break up with his mother.

All night my roommates and I composed my "Dear John," using the appropriate compassionate and loving words. I wrote it and re-wrote it. Then I wrote to his mom. The next day I mailed his letter, and a few days later I mailed hers. It was sad and liberating at the same time. I was a woman now, honest in my relationships, mature and adult in how I dealt with others. But I was terrified of what would happen next.

A couple of weeks passed before I finally received my response. It was one page. His mother had written him a condolence letter: "You'll get over her, you'll find someone else, it's all for the best," etc. He'd cut that paragraph out of her letter and glued it onto this page. "Thanks for letting me hear it this way," was the only sentence he'd written.

He hadn't gotten my letter! I felt awful. We always numbered our letters so we'd know if any went missing (that was a common thing in Brazil) but none had ever been lost before. The "Dear John" was the only one that didn't arrive.

After spending so much time on the first draft, I still remembered it almost word for word, but I couldn't re-write it in case the other one somehow appeared. So I composed a second compassionate and loving letter, which really meant, "Sorry, but I guess I didn't love you very much after all," and mailed it off.

In April I got a last letter from my old boyfriend. He had received the 2nd Dear John—and the birthday package—on the same day: his birthday. Not knowing about the early posting of the present, he assumed I'd sent it more recently. He wondered if that meant I still wanted to write to him. Apparently he was OK with me being in love, and even getting married, but he would miss my letters. (Maybe he should read my blog.) I had to write again and say I wouldn't be writing again.

I never heard from him after that. But I did see him one more time.

Fast-forward 16 months. I had just given birth (4 days before) to my first baby and I was staying at my mom's. I couldn't fit into anything, so I was wearing one of Mom's housecoats. My boobs were boulders protruding from just below my chin, and my stomach wobbled loosely when I shuffled down the hall (carrying my donut pillow) to answer the doorbell. And there he was.

Freshly home from Brazil, he was there to woo my little sister. I was mortified, he was speechless; I was a mother, he was a kid. Vast relief spread over his face: he'd been dumped.

Lessons From the Bedroom

I've been sick for about a week, and I've learned a few things.
1. Looking natural should cease to be a goal.
2. Laying in bed does not make me better; it makes me stiff.

3. "Just resting" gives me too much time for stressful thoughts.
For example: "Why doesn't anybody dust the light fixtures?"
And: "Maybe it's not laryngitis, maybe it's throat cancer."
Or: "Why does the phone keep ringing? Don't they know I'm sick?"
And: "Maybe I'm not stiff. Maybe my throat cancer has spread to my spine."
Or: "Why doesn't anybody call me? Don't they know I have cancer?"

4. Being sick gives me tons of time to read blogs.

5. The advertisements saying "My doctor says..." or "My doctor was worried..."
or "My doctor and I..." aren't referring to MY doctor. My doctor doesn't even call back.

6. I should have had cable installed in my bedroom. I actually should have a TV mounted on the ceiling. Maybe I should be
in the hospital just for TV viewing purposes.

7. Food tastes the best when it's made by my husband.

8. I love my apartment! I love my view! I love my decor! (Get me out of here.)

9. Doing nothing makes me feel useless. Doing anything makes me feel useful, (even if it is actually useless.)


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Daydream Believer

Where would you be right now, if you could be anywhere?

I would be sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Paris with a blue umbrella over my table. It would be a spring morning, but there would be a drizzling rain, and I would have hot chocolate with whipped cream, and buttery croissants next to my book. A mom and her two kids, clad in raincoats, would be playing in a puddle, with a young couple flirting on a bench nearby. The street wouldn't be busy, but there would be a few cute little French cars and bikes going past, and enough people walking by to make it interesting. Some would be carrying long loaves of bread, or flowers, an old man would be walking a little dog and an ambulance would be sounding that great European "ee-aaw---ee-aaw" siren somewhere in the distance. Two elegant women "of a certain age" would be sitting at the next table, with beautiful silk scarves draped casually around their necks, and speaking English, so I could listen in. Then suddenly Harrison Ford would appear and call to me, "Sabrina..."

Oh! I just woke up from my day dream! I have a runny nose and a hoarse voice and I look nothing like Sabrina. I think I'll go make some cocoa! Whipped Cream anyone?

Where would you be? Daydream a little!

This post was inspired by http://jolynm.blogspot.com/.

Love Story Chapter 9: Budapest, 1969

Artwork by Polly

It was for real now.

On a glorious Saturday in April Dee and I hiked up to the Cafe Winkler overlooking all of Salzburg, and Dee asked me to marry him. I said yes. We knew we would arrive home to $00.00 so the timing was yet to be decided, and I knew that until he gave me a ring, he wouldn't consider us engaged. I had considered us engaged since his first "I love you," but thought it wiser not to announce it, even to him.

View from Cafe Winkler, Salzburg

Then we went on a chaste group honeymoon to Budapest on April 30 to celebrate. Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain, and we had to have visas and official guides to go. We were told that the border was strictly guarded and we were not permitted under any circumstances to take photos as we crossed.

Guard towers on the road to Budapest, 1969

The guard towers were all around us, and soldiers with machine guns were watching every vehicle carefully. As we passed one of them, Dee took a picture out the window of the bus. I was shocked at his blatant indifference to the rules; I've since discovered that Dee never thinks rules apply to him. A few minutes later some soldiers on motorcycles pulled up next to us and waved us over. We stopped and the officers boarded our bus.

Guards stopped our bus.

The driver was Czech and the communication was awkward between our German and English, and these new foreign tongues. Of course it didn't take a linguist to figure out what they wanted. They had seen someone on our bus take a picture and they wanted to confiscate all our cameras.

Dee, realizing it was time to step up, volunteered that he was the criminal and they didn't need to take every one's camera; they could have his. After a little negotiation, the soldiers said he could just give up his film. This was 'back in the day' when it was impossible to tell what was on film until it was developed. Our friend Bryant slyly passed Dee his own film, allowing Dee to keep the fatal shot of the border towers. He handed over the phony film. To our relief, we were allowed to go on. Nobody saw the humor in the event, or even the adventure; everyone was just mad.

Communist May Day parade

May Day had special significance because there was a giant Communist Parade. I was clueless, and pictured floats and costumes. It turned out to be thousands of factory workers carrying Communist flags, marching past the government officials. Dee said he wanted to take a picture and left me in the stands. He didn't come back. After the events of the day before, I was worried that he'd been arrested and sent to a concentration camp. The atmosphere at the parade was not comfortable for us Americans, and I could feel the oppression of the people.

Dee's new Commie buddy 1969
(We still have this flag, which Dee liberated from Communism captivity himself.)

Our guides started rounding us up to load into the buses and Dee still hadn't returned. I looked down at the workers in the parade and there he was, marching between 2 men, carrying a huge Hungarian flag. Somehow he made it back to the bus with photos of President Kadar and others who could put him in prison . . . I could hardly wait to get out of this country!

Gypsy singers in Budapest cafe.

That night we went to a quaint restaurant, decorated with brightly colored embroidered linens and hand painted pottery. There were gypsy musicians wearing tall, black hats, puffy shirts and baggy pants tucked into boots. Playing their violins, they wandered from table to table while we ate Chicken Paprikas and Palatshinken. As we were eating, some girls at the next table began talking about candle passings.

Back in the dorms there would frequently be a sign on the door announcing a special ceremony that night. Everyone would gather in anticipation, wondering who. Standing in a circle, with crossed arms, holding hands, we sang love songs while a candle decorated with flowers and ribbons was passed from girl to girl. Sitting on the candle was a diamond engagement ring. There were sighs, and whispers and a few warbles.

♫ They say there's a tree in the meadow,
a tree that will give you a sign . . .
♫ Come along with me, to the Sweetheart Tree,
♫ Come and carve your name next to mine . . . ♫

After the candle had gone around the circle once, (or twice to add to the suspense,) the lucky girl blew out the candle and put her ring on. Squeals, hugs and tears would follow.

That night in Budapest someone started passing a candle. It went around one table and then another before it came to our table. I was sitting next to my true love, the gypsies were playing, everyone was watching, and when it came to me, I blew the candle out. Our engagement was official.

It must have been a trick candle,
because after forty-one years, the light is still bright.

(Click on Older Posts below for the next chapter.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Love Story Chapter 10: "Bis aufs Wiedersehn." Salzburg, 1969

It was time to wake up: the Salzburg Dream was over. (See all Salzburg posts.) Our semester abroad ended, the 14 final days touring Europe rolled into each other, and we flew home June 12th. Towards the end of our long flight, all 65 girls (it seemed) changed into our new dirndls, so we could greet our parents looking like a giant von Trapp Family. (The boys kept their dignity, with normal attire.) When the wheels of the plane touched down, the whole group cheered and some of us cried. We arrived very late, after midnight, and our families had been waiting for several hours. Dee's parents had already gone home. His mother had received a diagnosis of MS earlier that day, which must have been extremely upsetting. I can't remember who gave us that information, but we'd heard it by the time we found my parents. I assured Dee he could stay with us.

I had feared the big meeting with Dee and my parents, since our airmail correspondence had been so negative. I was excited to be home, and anxious for everyone to like each other. I flew into my dad's arms, and hugged my mom, and then introduced them to Dee. It was cordial, but stiff. Then I informed them that I had invited Dee to stay at our house since his folks had left. Their polite faces started slipping, and I suddenly felt defensive. In later years my mother would become very hospitable in this kind of situation, but it was the first time a stranger (to her) had ever stayed overnight. It was also the first time I had announced such an intention without asking first. We hadn't interacted like this before. Since I was the oldest child, it was new for our family, and a little awkward. I felt like I was walking into a stiff wind, but it worked out OK. It was great to see my family and sleep in my own bed. Dee slept on the family room floor.

Did you see Father of the Bride? It was so reminiscent of our experience. My dad was very suspicious of the new man in my life, and my mom was restrained. Emotionally, I had become a woman and they still saw me as a little girl. (It had only been 6 months...) I'm sure they assumed I would come home and everything would be the same, that I would be the same. I wasn't. I had allowed an intruder to become the biggest part of my life, leaving my family on the sidelines. None of us knew how to interact.

My mom had planned a special welcome home dinner for me with my grandparents, and I, of course, invited Dee. He was aware of the irony of his status (not at all welcome), and became reserved and quiet. This was a side of him I hadn't seen before and it made me nervous. My parents were not showing off very well, either, and I felt extremely tense and uncomfortable. Halfway through dinner something happened that I have never forgotten. My Grama leaned over the table and whispered (in a Grama whisper that everyone could hear) "Marty, he's real quality." I appreciated her so much at that moment! I needed approval and encouragement from someone I loved, and she had given the thumbs up.

So now reality set in. Although Dee lived only an hour away, it was as if we were on different planets. We were back in our parent's homes, without a car between us. Telephoning long distance was expensive and reserved for emergency 3-minute calls, so we had to write letters. After spending all day, every day, together, this was a shock and we were miserable. We had no income, work, or savings, and according to my dad, no future. My folks figured if they ignored the situation, it would go away. I had no one to talk to, or dream with. It felt like our whole romance had been imagined.
Dee immediately got 2 jobs, and I went back to work in my dad's Optometrist's office. Two weeks later, Dee surprised me at work, arriving in his new (used '67) light blue VW bug. He asked if I wanted to go for a walk. I got grudging permission from my boss, and we strolled around downtown, to the Assembly Hall. It was the middle of the afternoon, we were all alone in a beautiful room, and Dee told me he hated for us to be apart. He thought he had a solution to our difficult situation. He pulled a box from his pocket and there was a beautiful, antiqued diamond engagement ring. He figured we could get married in 2 months. "By then we'll be rich."
(We've been using this line now for 38 years...it's a good line.) I was overjoyed! It was for real.

We went back to my dad's office, but he'd left for the golf course. Dee drove me home and we just happened to pass my Grampa driving on the freeway! We pulled up close to him, honked and waved and I pointed to my new ring. He honked back, making cheering signs, grinning from ear to ear. My grandparents were awesome!

We got to my house, anxious to announce our news. Nobody was home. We talked and planned and waited. Finally, I heard my dad getting out of the neighbor's car. I ran out, flashing my diamond, squealing with delight. Dad took a look, opened the trunk to get out his clubs and went into the garage without a word. Mr. Glazier hugged me, shook Dee's hand, and congratulated us with exuberance. Dad walked into the house and got in the shower.

When Mom came home, she reacted with surprise and reluctant acceptance. Over the next few days she got excited about planning a wedding with all the trimmings. That was ironic, because I didn't want a wedding. I wanted a small dinner. I had always thought it would be silly to spend the biggest night of my life shaking hands with my mom's friends, and my dad's business associates. (This was a classic Marty/parent situation. I wanted my life one way, they wanted it another. They knew I'd be happier if I did it their way. Then I was considered "spoiled" when I didn't appreciate their efforts to do it their way. While I did appreciate the gesture, most of the time I didn't want it! It's hard to explain. I basically wanted to be respected enough to make my own choices.) But, whatever.... I was getting married!! Let mom plan her wedding and invite her friends. I was getting married!!!

Dad wouldn't talk about it for 3 days, and then he started suggesting that we wait a year, or at least until December. He said he couldn't afford a wedding so soon. (Why wasn't anyone listening to me??) By then, mom was talking dresses and florists, photographers and invitations, and eventually Dad realized it was happening with or without his approval. It actually took another year or so, and the birth of our first baby for Dad to accept this marriage. For the first several months when we visited my folks, Dee sat downstairs and read National Geographic because nobody would talk to him!

Although our engagement was short it seemed endless. Dee worked at a golf course and didn't get off until an hour after dark, so by the time he could get to my house it was 11:00 pm. We'd talk until 3:00 am, when he'd leave because his other job started at 8:00 am. This schedule allowed us to see each other only a few hours a week. In Salzburg we had studied, walked and talked, and now we wrote letters. The only real date we ever had was the day we went to get our marriage licence. We went to a movie afterwards, and as cheesy as it sounds, the movie was Sound of Music!

Our obsession and loyalty to all things Austrian can be traced to our beginnings. Our semester abroad in Salzburg was more than either of us had expected. While living in central Germany for 2 years, Dee had planned to return to Bavaria to study. As a sophomore in high school, I had a student teacher who introduced the idea of going to school in Salzburg. In our separate worlds we had both worked and saved until the perfect time and opportunity presented itself. It started as a dream and it became a dream come true.