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December Chit Chat

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December Chit Chat

Post by carolhathaway on Sun 03 Dec 2017, 20:57

Since nobody has started a thread for december yet, I thought it's my turn to do so.

I spent the weekend in Berlin with my family, it was a birthday present for my husband. We went to ba concert by Steven Van Zandt, also known as Little Steven, one of Springsteen's guitarists. Some of his songs sounded very familiar, quite similar to Springsteen's songs. Others were very different. It was really good - though not close to as The Boss himself. We stayed at a hotel in a district of Berlin nobody had stayed just twenty years ago, it used to have a bad reputation. Now everybody loves to go there, they've got restaurants from all over the world - we even saw a restaurant with Tibetan cuisine!

Today we decided to show our kids some of the recent history of Berlin since we had realized that they know in theory what it meant to Berlin to be a divided city, but they can't imagine it practically. So we first went to the museum at Checkpoint Charlie, the checkpoint for the members of the US Army. 'You are now leaving the American sector!'
Somebody started a museum soon after the wall was built, and it also shows how people tried to flee from the GDR - and many of them either were shot or imprisoned, together with their family members. They also had to give up their children for adoption, so I can't imagine the desparation of those who tried to escape knowing about this.

Afterwards, we went to a panorama, a reconstruction of a West Berlin street near the wall in the 1980s, and the view across the wall. Assisted by audio recordings of politicians: the president of the GDR who declined that his government would build a wall just weeks before they actually did. The mayor of West Berlin begging politicians from all over the world to watch and not forget Berlin. JFK's speech in 1963 with his 'Ich bin ein Berliner' ('I am from Berlin'). The president of the GDR who said that the wall would remain in fifty and even in a hundred years - just months before it was turned down.
We also saw pictures and videos of the building and demolition of the wall, people waving each their friends and families from the distance after it was built, not knowing if they would ever see each other again. Very impressive, and I'm sure that our kids do understand it much better now. Since it wasn't just a wall in Berlin but also a border which cut Germany in half, the border was situated just a few miles away from where I was born, and it was just by chance that I grew up in the west. I do remember that, during the 1980s, we always went to the border when youngsters from our British twin town came to visit. We visited an information center, and I usually had to translate it for our guests - I still remember the vocabulary 'self-shoot-devices'...

I'm really thankful that my kids grew up not knowing about this and just hope it will continue to be like it...
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by Way2Old4Dis on Tue 05 Dec 2017, 21:51

Sounds like a wonderful experience for all of you, carolhathaway.

And what a thoughtful husband you have.

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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by ladybugcngc on Wed 06 Dec 2017, 16:04

Hi everyone, I'm hosting a Bid Whist group in the Los Angeles area.  All are welcome to join us.  You can sign up at https://www.meetup.com/spades-238/events/243693937/.
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by Joanna on Thu 07 Dec 2017, 00:01

Hi carolhathaway......you have brought back some memories for me as I, together with my "fairly new" husband, stayed with my friend in Berlin in June 1990, just seven months after the wall came down.

She was working there and went to the wall on that 
emotional evening in November 1989.

We also went the the "Escapees Musem" and the one thing that I remember was that someone came across from East to West Berlin in a compartment made in the
floor under the passenger side of a Mini ! 
How frightening that must have been.

I've got some pieces of the wall that I picked up from 
the floor at CheckPoint Charlie, so I knew they were genuine. 

I found Berlin to be very atmospheric with it being 
so soon after the demolishion of the wall, and driving through what had been East Berlin very enlightening.

Hardly any buildings had been renovated after the
end of WW2 and some had bullet holes in the masonry.

Of course this contrasted greatly with the rebuilding 
that had gone on in West Berlin.

We attended a symbolic open air concert, sitting on the grass in "no man's land" which had been the separation 
between East and West Berlin. Many people had been shot trying to cross to West Berlin.

The concert was Mahler's Sixth Symphony performed by a youth orchestra made up of young musicians from 
both East and West Germany. 
It was Very atmospheric in that place where many had lost their lives trying to get back to their families and friends in West Berlin.

You've given me many more memories of my visit 
to Berlin.....not the least being at an open air concert 
given by Placido Domingo !

So....thanks for the memories.
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by carolhathaway on Thu 07 Dec 2017, 06:52

Joanna,
that sounded like a great trip with lots of memories!
It's really impressive and also shocking to actually see what people risked to leave a country. I had a pen friend from Dresden for about ten years during that moving time. We tried to meet in East Berlin during GDR times, but I was hold up for hours at the checkpoint and couldn't contact her to wait for me, so she'd already gone when I finally got there. So when we first met - after the wall had come down, we found out why she often hadn't replied to my letters: She told me that they all had been opened by their secret service (she was actually astonished that this didn't happen in the west), and often parts of my letters were marked black. I certainly never wrote anything political or even critical, but it still must have worried somebody...

Most of my husband's family lived in the GDR although they lived just a few miles apart from each other. My oarents-in-law often told stories of what happened when they went there to visit (relatives were allowed to come to the GDR for a visit but had to pay a lot of money, so they usually had to save a lot to be able to go there). Relatives living in the GDR wrren't allowed to come to the west unless they had retired (many people then decided to stay in the west, so the GDR didn't have to pay for their pensions and health insurances anymore). My husband's aunt wanted to come to West Germany when her parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaryand was imprisoned in the GDR. The reason for it was that she hadn't told the authorities that she had been adopted as a baby, so - according to their authorities - they weren't her real parents! And a friend of me always went to Hungary during the summer holidays because people from the GDR were allowed to go there on holiday as well, so they were able to meet with their relatives and spend their hokidays on a camping ground together. Apart from 1989, when the travel allowances were cancelled because people crom the GDR had escaped via Hungary, taking a ince-in-a-lifetime chance, not knowing that the border  would be history just a few months later...

For me who was born in 1969, it was normal to live in a divided country. We were used to it - which us probably the most frightening issue about that.
On 11/9, 1989, I was learning for an exam the next day, si I didn't watch TV or heard the radio. The next morning, I set on the radio, and the first news I heard was that the border had been ooened. One of my mother's cousins lived in Berlin and went to the wall to welcome people and buy them drinks to delebrate with them the whole night. I took my sisters and all the sweets we had in the house on the following weekend, and we drove to the border. We couldn't get any close because there was so much traffic so we just stopped the car in the traffic jam and gave the sweets and also little toys to every child in a GDR car. When I returned to the city I studied on Sunday, a lot of shops were open, and tgey all sold bananas for high prices - bananas were really rare in the GDR, so visitors bought them no matter how much they were. The churches opened to let visitors sleep there because there weren't enough trains running, and their cars needed a different sort of petrol our gas stations hardly offered.
When we first went to the GDR in early 1990, we were shocked about the bad conditions of the houses and streets, you're right: They looked like nothing had been done since the end of WW II. You wouldn't be able to tell a difference now.
That really was an incredible time...
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by LizzyNY on Thu 07 Dec 2017, 13:49

To anyone in southern California, praying for you and your loved ones to be safe. I hope the fires don't affect you and can be put out before they cause much more damage.

Just an aside: Since the fires are so close to LA, I wonder if G&A will take the twins away for safety's sake. George's house backs onto parkland so, if that catches fire, his house could be in danger. It might be smarter to just get out until the fires are under control. Maybe they should have just stayed on vacation.
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by annemarie on Thu 07 Dec 2017, 14:25

I think George will make sure that the babies and Amal are all safe. They may have just stopped to pick up the dogs.The winds are supposed to be bad through the weekend.

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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by it's me on Thu 07 Dec 2017, 19:19

Damn....
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by Joanna on Fri 08 Dec 2017, 18:28

Lizzy & 
annemarie....
Yes I agree with what you both say and we all know that they would soon get away if there was any sign of danger from the fires.

The arial shots of the fires look dreadful and very frightening.
We can only hope that the forecasts are wrong 
about the winds getting strong over the weekend. 

Are the military helping in any way ?
The firefighters are Real Heroes and must be exhausted 
already.
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by Way2Old4Dis on Fri 08 Dec 2017, 20:06

My LA friends are telling me that the winds are supposed to lessen in intensity/speed this weekend, but become more erratic in pattern. I don't think that's an entirely good thing, since it means less predictability.

Positive thoughts to the Universe...

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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by LizzyNY on Fri 08 Dec 2017, 20:27

Ladybug, You said you're in the LA area. Are you ok? Are you away from the fire zone? Please be safe.

I have a cousin in Valencia I haven't been able to contact. Do you know if the fires have reached there? She's often slow getting back to me, but not knowing if she's in a fire zone is making me worry.
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by ladybugcngc on Fri 08 Dec 2017, 21:00

LizzyNY wrote:Ladybug, You said you're in the LA area. Are you ok? Are you away from the fire zone? Please be safe.

I have a cousin in Valencia I haven't been able to contact. Do you know if the fires have reached there? She's often slow getting back to me, but not knowing if she's in a fire zone is making me worry.
He Lizzy,

I just got back from Vegas and learned of the fires.  I'm in the inner city not close to the fires.  However I'm concerned about a house on the far west side of Malibu I hope to move into soon; that area is close to Ventura.  I don't know the status of that house.

Valencia is north east of Ventura. I don't think Valencia is in danger of current fire hot spots.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by LizzyNY on Fri 08 Dec 2017, 21:20

Thanks for the info, Ladybug. My cousin got back  to me a few minutes ago, and they're ok. She works at a Walmart that had to close yesterday because they lost power, but all is back to normal today.

I'm glad you're not in harm's way and hope your new house doesn't get damaged by the fires. Malibu is a beautiful area. I hope you get to enjoy it.
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by carolhathaway on Fri 08 Dec 2017, 22:58

It's always frightening to hear about these natural disasters, we're so helpless when we learn that we can't control nature...

I can only hope and pray that nobody is seriously injured or killed, you can always build a new house, memories are what really hurts. But if you loose a beloved one, that's the real loss...
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by PigPen on Mon 11 Dec 2017, 14:35

Everybody on the East coast okay after the snowstorm?

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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by LizzyNY on Mon 11 Dec 2017, 19:09

PP - Was it a storm where you are? Here it was only a couple of inches - even less in most places - and pretty much gone the next day. The only snow around now is on tops of cars whose owners didn't bother to clean them off. It is cold, though.

Hope everyone in California is safe. The people I know out there are outside the fire zone - at least so far. It's frightening to know that the winds could shift and start fires in areas that haven't been affected yet. Praying for all to be safe.
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by Joanna Yesterday at 19:05

There's a frightening video on Face Book, taken from inside a car, of the cars driving along the highway
with the fires ahead and alongside them.

It's scary on a scale to number 10 !

I'm just sorry that I can't post it.
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Re: December Chit Chat

Post by Donnamarie Yesterday at 20:36

Joanna, I’ve seen news reports on TV that show exactly what you described.  It’s looks surreal and almost apocalyptic.  These fires won’t let up.  Just awful.
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