18 November, 2009

Behind The Wall: The Story of Birgit Lindemann

This is a cross post, so that they ladies in my book club can have a direct link to an interview I discussed in our meeting earlier this week. Apologies to my FB friends who've already seen this.

Behind The Wall ~

*Fantastic* interview from Birgit, who was raised as a "young pioneer" in East Berlin and how the fall of the Berlin Wall changed her and her family's life. Go listen!! Let your kids listen to this. Fantastic personal account of this time in history and what it was like for children of parents who loved their party and towed the party line. She also touches on what she thinks now about kids in Berlin who never knew what it meant to have a wall (real wall and political wall) dividing you from loved ones and privileges that you can only smell and imagine.

Take some time to reflect on history


17 November, 2009

Hand Bookbinding and Restoration services available

Anyone have a family heirloom or sentimental vintage book they would like to have restored/preserved (maintaining original integrity) for a family member for Christmas? Feel free to contact me for more information. I have many detailed photos HERE (on my blog) of much more complicated work, and happy former and current clients to recommend my services, if you are interested!

One of the plainest examples of my work, but I have many detailed photos you can view by clicking on the subject links in the right-hand margin, more specifically, bookbinding and restoration.This book had lost it's spine and spine cover, so I cleaned off the old, acidic spine glue and materials and created a new spine and covered it with new, matching bookcloth. I could have created a new title label for it, but it was not asked for.

These are just a few examples of hand-bound journals that I have made and sold, available in any size you would like. Bookcloth is more durable, but these craft papers hold up well. I can attest to this, as these are the style I use for my own journal books.

Let the binding begin!


10 November, 2009

Spanish practice through music

While trying to find a Spanish song to use in my Spanish classes this week, I found a site called Actualidades: a learning blog, that has a fantastic collection of music/songs to listen to. The site owner has gone to a lot of effort and also posted activity sheets that go along with each song (there are almost 50 in the collection!), including a vocab list that you can present before you play the song. They are not translated into English, for the most part, so you are forewarned that you will have to do this part yourself.

These have excellent sound quality, as well, and I'm looking forward to giving some of these a try.



Preview for any topics you personally might want to avoid with younger ages (i.e. love or dating relationships).

09 November, 2009

Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!

Happy Anniversary to Germany on this, the 20th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

These were courageous words spoken by then President Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Not even Reagan's own aides wanted him to utter that particular line, yet he did! Discussing the dismantling of the wall and the fall of communism, Reagan's biographer quotes Mikhail Gorbachev as saying, "I don't know if what happened would have happened if Reagan had not been there."

I remember the era and how fearful everyone was to elect Reagan, thinking for sure that he would cause nuclear holocaust. I wrote the president myself with my own concerns (I was about 16 at that time of writing that letter) as one of my brothers signed up for the Air Force during that time and was sent to West Germany, along with his young family, to serve his country and protect our allies as a Russian Linguist.

A small handful of friends and I got to visit Berlin, including East Berlin one weekend in the summer of 1984, while doing mission work there. My experiences can in no way be compared to those who lived through the time of occupation of parts of Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union. I am, however, very thankful to have been able to get to know a few people who lived that life, had family behind that wall. I am thankful to have been able to see some of Eastern Europe and East Berlin for myself. To witness a socialist holiday complete with goose-stepping soldiers and tanks, etc. It was a life-changing experience for this very-blessed American, then a college student seeking to live life with greater purpose.

Our very-long day of walking miles upon miles of exploring in East Berlin, without food until about ten at night when we finally found one of the few small taverns or restaurants in the city. Because it was Stalin's or Lenin's day, what services the city did have available were mostly closed. Lines of people wrapped around the one restaurant we saw after lunchtime, so we'd walk on to the next possible restaurant which we would not ever find.

We made it to Checkpoint Charlie in the late afternoon, with hopes of getting back into West Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie. We were so happy, thinking we could finally get something to eat just across the way! But it was not possible for us to do that.

The East German guards informed us that we could not under any circumstances re-enter the West through Checkpoint Charlie, because we had entered the city by train on another side of the city. As I look at the map of the city divided by the wall and the various checkpoints, we must have come in at Checkpoint Bravo, the only other checkpoint possible for non-Germans.
We drove from West Germany to an appartment of some church members in W. Berlin, but took a train in from West to East Berlin, from what I remember. We were told by our missionary friend that if we took cameras, there was a good chance that the guards would take our film on the way in or out, when they checked us in and out. How I wish I had photos of that weekend.

At that point, trying not to be discouraged, we bolstered ourselves and began the walk back to the other side of the city, hoping and praying for a place, any place, to eat. I cannot remember if and how we were able to find water or something to drink along the way. Convenience shops or kiosks that one would see in free Europe were pretty much non-existent. We probably found juice or some such thing somewhere, because we did spend our money. It was required of us by the guards that we convert a certain amount of Deutsch marks to East German Marks upon entering East Germany, and we were not supposed to take any of those marks out of the East with us when we left.
Sometime after dark, and I do not remember how many hours or miles, we finally found a small, hole-in-the-wall mom and pop place to eat. We were thankful when we were finally seated at a table. It took 45 minutes to an hour to be given a menu. It took up to another hour to be waited on. It was not because we were Americans, I truly believe. We were dressed as German as possible (though definitely Western) and we spoke in German. This place was simply almost out of food.
There were five dishes listed on the menu, but only two were still available. My team and I rallied each others' spirits my making funny references to things such as "now they're going to the barn to slaughter the bull for dinner," etc. I began writing a postcard to my parents while we continued to wait. Another hour after our order was taken, our food finally arrived; a small piece of meat, green peas, and boiled potatoes. It was one of the best meals I have had, simply because of need.

At some point during that weekend, we were able to visit the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, and spend time pouring somberly over the stories and artifacts of those who escaped or died trying to escape from East to West.

This was truly one of the top ten best times of my education. I came away from that experience more grateful for my blessings, and prompted me (still prompts me) to mourn the greed, waste, and indifference that I saw then and still see today. I am not perfect by any stretch in trying to live a less commercial lifestyle and to appreciate the simple things, but this helped to take stock of my life and my values and to live what I believe without apology or shame. I am not anti-capitalist, but, I am a fan of buying what you can afford or need, not being so indulgent.

This post is a perfect reminder of the attitude of gratitude that we should have as we soon celebrate Veterans Day, toward our military~our brothers, uncles, granfathers, sons, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, etc., who have served to protect us and our country through in the armed forces. We owe them more than we can give, and often, simply thanking them can really encourage them.

I know of no better way to leave you thinking about and pondering our blessings, and being thankful to God for them, and our military who have worked and fought to serve and protect us.

Chao for now,