ALSACE ADVENTURE – Rich Paschall

Strasbourg and Beyond, by Rich Paschall

For many years now Strasbourg has been a favorite vacation stop.  It is not just because of the wonderful historic sites and amazing food and wine, but also because of the friends who live in the region.  I am sure you will agree that any chance to visit one of your best friends is a good enough reason to head out on a new adventure.

In the northeast corner of France, right across the Rhine River from Germany, lies Strasbourg.  It is the largest city in the Grand Est (East). The metropolitan region is home to almost a half-million residents.  It is an important city in the European Union as the location of several EU institutions, including the European Parliament.

Strasbourg, France

Despite the many visits to Strasbourg, I never really walked through the area known as “Petite France,” where they maintain the architecture of the Middle Ages.  Known for the many white and black timber buildings, it is a lovely throwback to an era long past.  Of course, we have seen many buildings like this throughout the city and the region.

In 1988 the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.  This includes the famous cathedral, sitting on a foundation over a thousand years old.

Street of “Petite France”

Every visit to Strasbourg must include a stop at the grand Cathedral.  Built on the foundation of a previous structure, the current church was built between 1176 and 1439.  If you see the size and intricate detail of the building and then consider there was no modern building equipment, you will understand why it took centuries to complete.

The street leading up to the cathedral might be a bit “touristy” for some, but I must confess that we stopped in the shops and purchased some souvenirs along the way.  I can never return home without the required refrigerator magnet, and my friend picked up several items to remember the occasion.  We also stopped near the end of the street near the cathedral for lunch at an outdoor cafe.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg

Literally in the shadow of the Cathedral is the Palais Rohan.  Built in the 1730s as the resident of the princes of the House of Rohan, French royalty who served as bishop and cardinal of the cathedral, it has been a museum in modern times.  It was seized during the French Revolution and sold to the municipality where it served for a while as the town hall.  Some of the original furniture and artwork were sold off or destroyed.

The site had been a bishop’s resident since 1262.  The courtyard and the area between the palace and the cathedral have been the scene of archeological digs throughout modern times, including some of our visits.  There they have found artifacts from ancient Roman times.

Palais Rohan

One of the joys of centering your trip in Strasbourg is being able to head off to regional sites of interest.  Whether you are going to other towns or villages by train from Gare de Strasbourg-Ville, by tour bus or have a friend to drive, you will find much to see.

Mosbach winery

With my friend as driver, we always head to a wine producer for a taste of the local vintage.  It might seem a bit odd on a Sunday morning, but we found Mosbach willing to open the shop and hand out samples.  Alsace is famous for its white wines and my French guide selected a bottle for each of us.

There are many places to stop along the famous “wine road.”  The region is filled with vineyards that climb up the side of the hills, and wine producers ready to welcome you.

From here we went to the popular Mont Ste. Odile, or Hohenburg Abbey, where Saint Odile (c. 660 to 720) served as abbess.  Legend has it she was cured of blindness as a child.  This is why she is known as the patron saint of the blind.  She is also considered the patron of Alsace.

From atop this hill, Odile is said to look out over Alsace as protector of the region.  When one enters the abbey, its church, and its chapels, one wonders how they built this many centuries ago.  The modern-day road is narrow and winding and the hill has a dense forest.  One is left to wonder how they were able to get all the materials used in the building to the top of the hill.  The view is worth the trip.

Alsace region from Mont Sainte Odile Abbey

Someday in the future, I hope I can make this trip again.  There is a great value to the discoveries that travel will bring into your life.  When you have a chance, hit the road for new adventures. They are not only educational but rejuvenating in ways that are hard to explain.  As Rick Steves (PBS travel shows) will tell you, “Keep on traveling.”

Visit the photo gallery here.

DO OVER

What Would You Change?  by Rich Paschall

If you could do your life over, what would you change?  Would you choose a different career?  Would you choose a different house or apartment?  Would you consider living in another town?  Another part of the country? A foreign country?

Would you travel more?  Would you see other towns, other regions, other countries?  Do you have adventures that remain unfulfilled?  Do you wish to do more exciting things?

Here’s a big one for you to consider.  Would you change your mate?  Would you have more or fewer children?  Would you stay single or get married, depending on what you current circumstance is?

Contemplative

Many people like to say that they would not change a thing.  They would do everything the same way.  Some say this defiantly so, as if defending the life that they have led.  That may be just a front, however, for certain family or friends.  Would we really do things the same way?

No matter what we insist to others, we all have made mistakes that we regret.  Would we not change these mistakes, if only we had the chance?  Would we not make better choices if we had the chance to choose again?

Do you recall a statement that you said you wish you could take back because it was insensitive?  Do you recall the gossip that you took part in, only to realize later that it was just a way to put down a coworker, neighbor, or family member that you just did not like at the time?  Wouldn’t the passage of time make us wise enough to refrain from such things?  If we took part in these things with the knowledge of our lifetime in front of us, would we not take a different course?

Perhaps you have seen the article, frequently reposted on social media (I have seen it a number of times, anyway), that talks about The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. These were collected by a nurse and published in a book.  It is summarized on Collective Evolution website. The list indicates that if these people could live their lives again, they would not take the same paths.  When they looked back from death’s door, there was plenty to change.

Top on the list was having the courage to live your own life, rather than that which was expected.  As we grow up, there are expectation of parents, grandparents, other family members, teachers and even our communities about what we should do in life.  Our roles are frequently defined by others and we, as loyal children and friends, take the path expected of us.  Would we now decide on “The Road Not Taken?”

Every male patient wished that they had not worked so hard.  They missed family events or other adventures while they worked extra hours.  From the perspective of the end of life, the choice was clearly a wrong one.  Yes, many need to work harder to support their family, but did we choose work, when another choice would have been better on a particular day?

Many wished they had the courage to express their true feelings, or that they had stayed in touch with old friends, or that they allowed themselves to be happier.  Perhaps they regretted all of these things.  So I ask the question again, what would you change if only you could?

If time and health are on your side, then you can still do many of the things you missed earlier.  You can still make amends for bad choices, thus undoing some mistakes of the past.  Of course, we can not now change everything, but that is no reason to be sad about the past.  We can use what we learned to move forward with better choices.

I think the desire to make up for missing some things in the past is one of the emotions that gives rise to the “Bucket List.”  Of course, you may put things on the list that are new to your thought processes, but how many of the things you would list now would actually be things you feel you missed out on in the past?  Is there some adventure you should have pursued in the past that you can still do now?

While there are many decisions I regret from the past, and some that I regret now actually, I have one basic problem with a “Do Over.” If I had made different choices in the past, would I still end up in the same place? You see, there are many things about the present I like as they are.  If I had gone a different route, would I eliminate some of the things I like about today?  Would some of my close friends be missing?  Of course, I would not know they were missing if I had gone another way.

Friends meet up in Strasbourg
Friends meet up in Strasbourg

My jobs in recent years have allowed me to make new friends in other countries.  In fact, one of my best friends lives in France.  We have travelled to France, Germany and England together as well as much of the USA.  I can not now imagine a life that does not include him.  I never thought of these travels or friendships when I was young, so I could not have consciously made the choice to end up where I am.

Because of my love of my current adventures and friends, I guess I really do not want a “Do Over.”  I just hope the knowledge I have gained from past mistakes will allow me to make better choices in the future.

From where you are right now, do you wish to go on with the knowledge you have gained, or would you rather have a “Do Over” realizing it may take you to a different place?

NOT ESPECIALLY FLUFFY — UNLESS YOU COUNT THE DUST BUNNIES

I’m trying to think fluffy. It isn’t working. Last night, we had a storm. High winds. Rain. How fluffy can things be when the rain is coming down so hard it sounds like little rocks?

We got the promised torrential rains and wind — with a 4-hour power outage too. It was the dead of night — around three, I think when it hit — and it was repaired by morning. For the first time ever, my cell phone was dead. I usually turn it off when I’m not using it, but I must have forgotten. The WiFi was down of course and the only phone number I have for the electric company is on my cell.

So — brilliant move, if I do say so myself — I plugged the phone into the laptop to got enough charge to call the electric company. I figured it was late. Although the whole street was blacked out, I might be the only person awake to notice it. If I waited until morning, there wouldn’t be (gasp) COFFEE when we got up!

I was right. No one had called, but there were several lines down and the power was back this morning. Now, the sun is out and the trees are bare. The 70 mph wind last night finished them off in a hurry.

In the course of last night’s meanderings around the computer, I was checking out a DNA research area called “GEDmatch.” It’s not an ancestry testing company. It’s more a researching humans on earth thing. It is free. So if you already have your DNA from some other organization — doesn’t matter which group — you can dump it into GEDmatch and get information about yourself and to whom you might be related.

The main problem is that this is pretty heavy scientific stuff and I’ve been staring at it for more than a week without it making any sense at all. Then, last night, I ran one more test. It showed up as a list and a pie chart. Bing! It made sense. I realized exactly what the pie chart was showing and how to get additional information on what each pie slice comprises. I love it when the light bulb goes on for the first time.



There are email addresses for people to whom you might be related, so I picked the one from the top who would be my closest relative in that heap of Ashkenazi Jewish people … and wrote a note explaining that I feel like a moron, but I’m too curious to not at least ask a few questions. He got back to me this morning. He’s trying to figure it out too.

I think he is my second cousin — or more to the point — the grandchild of my grandmother’s sister or brother. I think sister, but I’m guessing.

There are three or four more on my father’s side, too. A huge chunk of what might have been family was wiped out during the Holocaust. No surprise there. That may explain why the family never ever talked about the rest of the family that we didn’t know. It was not exactly forbidden, but it was definitely not encouraged. Without getting complicated, I think my mother found it too depressing to discuss. With anyone. Ever.

If you have had your DNA run by any company — doesn’t matter which one — you might want to check out GEDmatch. Prepare for a lot of “HUH??? Does this mean anything?” Total confusion — speaking of fluff — seems to be the initial reaction. There are some parts of it that are so completely obscure, I doubt I will ever make any sense of them. But I’m beginning to see bits and pieces of  information popping through the mishmash.

You can hook up with them on GEDmatch.com.  

You have to register, but it’s free. They do encourage donations because research costs money and research funding is hard to come by. If you have a packet of DNA from any company, you can add it to GEDmatch. After a while, you might get information you find useful. I’m getting there. It’s a giant puzzle, but it’s probably good for what remains of my brain.

THE WISH – A WEEKLY DAILY POST PHOTO CHALLENGE

WISH | WEEKLY DAILY POST PHOTO CHALLENGE


This is a home where many faiths are accepted without question. I don’t know what I believe, only that any god in which I might have a relationship would welcome anyone of good faith from anywhere on earth.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

WE HAVE TO GET AHEAD OF THIS GUY – BY TOM CURLEY

In almost all TV cop shows and movies, the bad guy, usually a mad psychotic, a mad genius or a mad psychotic genius, is always one step ahead of the good guys.

sdsouthard.com
sdsouthard.com

For at least the first half of the show, the good guys keep getting caught in the bad guy’s traps.

fantendo.wikia.com
fantendo.wikia.com

Or (and?) the bad guy keeps escaping at the last minute.

imgur.com
imgur.com

Inevitably, at some point (usually about half way through the show) the chief good guy says: “We’re constantly playing catch up. We gotta get ahead of this guy.”

This is when someone on the team, usually the brilliant but nerdy computer expert, will find a tidbit of information which leads the good guys to finally capture or kill the bad guy. The end. Stay tuned after the break for scenes from next week’s episode.

After two weeks of #45’s rule … it seems impossible, but it has really been two weeks!

countercurrentnews.com
countercurrentnews.com

We’ve learned a few things.

  1. As bad as we all thought #45 would be, it’s a hundred times worse.
  2. #45 is not going to “pivot” or become “Presidential”. He is actually doing every crazy thing he said he was going to do during the campaign. No matter how stupid, counter-productive, or dangerous.
  3. We have learned who the current President actually is. Steve Bannon.
    thevilliagesuntimes.com
    thevilliagesuntimes.com

    He is the one writing all these insane executive orders. The guy running the country (this week at least) is an avowed White Supremacist who has stated that he wants to blow up the government. He wants a world-wide “Crusade” against Muslims and he considers himself “The Thomas Cromwell to the court of the Tudors”.

    bbc.co.uk
    bbc.co.uk

    Yeah, he really said that. I’m surprised he knows who Thomas Cromwell is. I wonder if he knows what happened to Mr. Cromwell.

    tudors.wikia.com
    tudors.wikia.com
  4. The government has been turned into a very, very bad reality show.
  5. The press has been declared to be “The Opposition Party”. The enemy of the state. Fake News. Or as I think they are going to become, “The Good Guys”.

In our new, very bad Reality Show, we’re early in the first half of the show. The media are constantly playing catch up. They have to react to every insane tweet. Every blatant lie. Every horrific executive order. Before they can fully expose how crazy the last tweet or lie is, another one comes out.

This is not the way to handle these chuckle heads. The press has to get ahead of these guys. And we don’t need a brilliant but nerdy computer genius to do it. The press hasn’t caught on yet, but they are the people driving this administration.  It’s been reported extensively that #45 has the attention span of a puppy.

dogtime.com
dogtime.com

He obsessively watches cable news.  He then goes off on a twitter rant over whatever it is that he sees.


This is how you get ahead of him. Don’t react to the latest tweet with hours of dissection.  Report it and keep going back to a single narrative, a single point. And that point is: “Is The President of the United States Mentally Ill?”

It’s a question being raised more and more all over the world.

“There’s something wrong with this guy.”

“This is not normal.”

“This guy is nuts.”

brietbart.com
brietbart.com

This is a valid question and the kind of thing cable news is really good at. Cable news spends much more time putting pundits and “experts” on the air to blather over the latest tweet or the last lie than actually doing investigative reporting. Let’s start getting experts and pundits talking about this for real.

The current resident of the Oval Office is a textbook case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder (yes, you can have multiple personality disorders at the same time).

kathyescobar.com
kathyescobar.com

This is something both my wife and I are intimately familiar with. Both of our exes suffered from the former. Here is a test sample question from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM-V.

DSM-V

Any of that sound familiar?

Now, when the press starts asking these questions, the blowback from the administration will be intense. Which is great. Why are they so defensive? Does the President have something to hide? I personally don’t know, but I hear lots of people saying  that the President is loony as a tick. (See, we can do that trick too). But in this case

IT’S A VALID QUESTION!!

The President has to have an annual physical exam — which he never did, by the way — so. why not a psychological exam?  This needs to become the narrative of the day. Every day. From now on. No matter what “President Bannon” orders. Whatever Cheesy McCheese Head tweets, we have to keep coming back to this topic.

IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES MENTALLY ILL?

It’ll work. We gotta get ahead of this guy.

SPEAK OUT | DISCOVER CHALLENGE

GIBBS’ SUPERPOWER

THE SCOTTISH SUPERPOWER!


I used to be Super Woman. I have written about it several times, in a variety of ways. Here is a link — BYE, BYE SUPERWOMAN — in case you are interested. It’s one of my better small pieces about life, and barking ones shins while attempting to leap tall buildings at a single bound.

Gibbs - Super Scottie!
Gibbs – Super Scottie!

For this challenge, I’d like to talk about Gibbs, the Scottish Terrier. He joined our family last March. He had never had a real home before in his life, but once he worked out the biscuit and petting connection, he took to family life with a vengeance. He took to the sofa with love, passion, and a quiet determination to never again be without a soft place to sleep.

Which is when we realized that Gibbs has a superpower. A real one. No kidding.

Gibbs can alter his specific gravity. Under non-super conditions, Gibbs weighs about 27 pounds. A normal, big boy Scottie. But if Gibbs has found his “spot” and has decided he is in need of A Long Rest, he can increase his weight and became an immovable object. Garry and I together can barely move him, much less lift him. It is as if he has a powerful magnetism that ties him firmly to the earth’s core — the sofa being only the intervening platform.

Note the open eye. He does not sleep. He is waiting.
Note the open eye. He does not sleep. He is waiting.

It’s pretty funny watching two grown adult humans struggling to rearrange or relocate one relatively small Scottish Terrier. I have no idea how he does it, but it’s definitely a superpower and a pretty impressive one at that.

What’s different and special about Batgirl and Supergirl and Wonder Woman is that they do all of this through female bodies. They demonstrate that heroism and intelligence and strength and leadership are not male traits. Rather, they are human traits that can be performed by anyone. — Carolyn Cocca

I’m here to tell you this is not only not necessarily a male human trait, or a female human trait. It is a basic animal trait. They shall not be moved!

We have a dog. He has The Superpower. Drop by sometime. We will demonstrate!

TOUGH QUESTIONS, EASY ANSWERS

I asked. He answered. He asked, I answered. We’ve been together ever since.

Here’s how it happened. It began on the ferry ride back from Martha’s Vineyard. We’d spent a magical week. It was obvious that Something Was Happening.

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From there, we moved on to living together. Sort of. We each had our own place, but were almost always together in one or the other. With a lot of driving in between. As both of us were working full-time, we didn’t get a lot of time to relax together. Things were bound to change, but there was in no rush. I had no plans for moving on.

I’d gone to California on business for a couple of weeks. I came back early because I got sick. Which was just as well, because an earthquake — the one that stopped the World Series on October 17, 1989 — occurred the following day. If I’d stayed, I’d have been crushed under a collapsed highway.

A few weeks later, Garry had a few questions for me. He suggested we go out to dinner. Nice place on the dock in Boston. Garry was uncharacteristically nervous. I could tell because he drove around Leverett Circle half a dozen times on the way to the wharf . He kept missing the turn. As he drove, he explained he’d had a conversation with a pal about real estate. Prices were down. Maybe we should buy something. Live together. Like maybe … forever? Was forever okay with me?

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Having listened awhile, I said: “Let me see if I’ve got this right. You want to buy a house? Move in and live together? Forever? As in married?”

“All of that,” he said, and drove around the loop one more time.

This time, I said “Yes.”

The following morning, I asked Garry if I could tell my friends. He said “Tell them what?”

“That we’re getting married,” I said.

“We are?”

“You said we should buy a house and live together forever.”

“Is that a proposal?”

“It is where I come from,” I assured him. I had to remind him about buying a ring, but eventually he realized all he had to do was give me a ring, set a date, tell me what he wanted in the way of a wedding (everything, really everything). After which he could show up in a tux and be married.

We got married 6 months later having known each other only 26 years.

I asked, he said “yes.” He asked, I said “yes.” Not so tough after all.

DISCOVER CHALLENGE | TOUGH QUESTIONS

SWAG-WEAR FOR ALL

SERENDIPITY HEADER--Flare-AtteanView_003

Just as self-publishing has redefined authorship for many people, so has the “design-your-own” clothing business changed what we wear. Specialty shirts for teams, schools, and organizations have long been an industry, but in recent years “swag wear” has become ubiquitous. It’s everywhere. There’s slogan clothing for anything you can think of. And a whole bunch of stuff you would never have thought of.

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You can find a commemorative shirt for movies, authors (living and dead), as well as every book and concert tour … not to mention TV shows and their individual characters, historical, alive, or fictional — and any combination of the aforementioned.

I don’t remember exactly when tee-shirts with clever sayings became the clothing of choice for everybody, but if I had to take a guess, I’d say about 30 years ago.

Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens
Marilyn and Garry by Bette Stevens

That’s the first time I remember buying a tee-shirt that had people stopping me on the street so they could read it. It gave humorous definitions of world religions as they relate to the word “shit.” The only problem was it took a while to get through all the words, so I had to stand there and wait for people to finish reading.

Since then, the world has burst into a blooming bouquet of slogans and logos on all kinds of clothing, though not yet (but never say “never”) on business suits. It will happen. Just please, not yet.

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Somewhere along the line there came into my world “CustomInk” who can make anything you want in the way of a tee-shirt, sweatshirt, mug, mousepad, pen, calendar, or poster. You name it, they can put your design on it.

Use a photograph, drawing, or use the company’s design tools to create something that says “me” or “you.”  I’ve done both. I’ve designed special shirts as Christmas and birthday presents … and of course for Serendipity because … well … why not? Of all the enterprises in which I’ve participated throughout my life, this one is the most “me.”

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There are hundreds, probably thousands of places doing custom design and printing. CustomInk happens to be the one with which I have worked. Despite sticker shock, I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of the product. I tend to reward companies that do good work by continuing to give them my work … however little it may amount to in the overall scheme of things.

Since the subject in this week’s “Discover” challenge is essentially “clothing that defines us,” what could possible define us more than unique clothing we design and create?

I should also point out what I kick I get out of designing stuff. I’ve always enjoyed design, whether it was illustrations for a technical guide, a book cover … or a tee-shirt. There’s a special satisfaction in designing apparel. It’s not high fashion, but it’s my fashion. These days, you don’t have to wait for someone else to come up with your perfect fashion statement.

You can make your own statement. Using your own words and pictures.

WordPress DISCOVER | OUTER LAYERS

THE NOW OF AN ORDINARY HERE

Being in the now is a thing. We’re getting older, so now is what we’ve got. The past is gone, the future uncertain. La di da. Yada yada. Except no matter what, now is all anyone ever has. A memory of the past is not the same as having that time. A memory is a memory. Time is today. Now. Immediately.

Downtown.

The future is never a certainty for anyone. Anywhere.

So. Let’s look at life in the real now, not during one of those infrequent special Hallmark moments. Take yesterday, a typically now-ish day.

We got up. Drank coffee. Answered email and commented on this site. Garry checked in with Facebook. I updated Farm Town. We petted dogs and didn’t give them nearly enough biscuits — in their opinion.

Then we went out, picked up a couple of prescriptions and a few grocery items. I took some pictures. Nothing earthshaking, but the earth doesn’t shake here. Whatever downtown looked like yesterday, it won’t be a whole lot different today unless it’s winter and we get a foot or two of snow overnight. Otherwise, things evolve slowly.

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I discovered the battery in my camera was dead. Again. I think (maybe) I’ve got a bad one. I need to mark it so I can tell which one it is (I have four and they look identical). I’ll give it one more chance to prove its value before to the bin it goes.

Next, I decided to buy a bucket of chrysanthemums (yellow), the fuchsias having passed on to the big nursery in the sky. Then we went home. I sorted mail, dumped all but one magazine into the trash. Bills come electronically, so most paper mail is advertising or what we consumers refer to as “junk.” I don’t even take it inside, but toss it into the bins by the garage.

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Only when I got upstairs and my computer refused to boot did awareness of the now go to yellow alert. I spent a joyless hour trying to figure out why it wouldn’t boot. With no satisfactory answer. Which reminded me I should invest some time taking care of Garry’s machine.

All the excitement was followed by … what? I read a book. Garry read the newspaper. We both watched MidSomer Murders. I processed a few pictures. We ate dinner. Dogs came, dogs went.

I’m sure we were in the now because there really isn’t anywhere else to be. If we aren’t in the now, where are we exactly? If there’s a parallel universe, I wish it would open a wormhole for me. I’ve been looking for it for many years. If anyone deserves a trip to another dimension, I certainly do.

Special, defining memorable moments are not ordinary, daily events. If they were, they would cease being special or defining. One of the signifiers of specialness is that it’s extraordinary. I know it’s fashionable to talk about the now as if it every moment is so wonderful we dare not miss a single second. But no one could live in a constant state of hyper-awareness. We’d burn out.

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Did our trip to CVS merit a special page on our scrapbook of life? I kind of doubt it.

Finally, I actually have an opinion on this — which is (tada): There is nothing wrong with uneventfulness. A flow of days, even years with no crises, drama, or momentous peaks and valleys. It’s called contentment and it’s the state for which I have long yearned.

Add a few lovely vacations and memorable events to highlight the passage of time and it becomes perfection.

HERE AND NOW | THE DAILY PROMPT DISCOVER CHALLENGE

COLD MEMORY

I grew up in a very old, cold house.

It was first built in the mid 1800s as a four-room bungalow with a crawl space attic. At some point, owners raised the roof and built a small apartment under the eaves. One little bedroom, a miniature living room, tiny kitchen, and a bath. In front, there was a balcony just big enough for a single adult to stand and look down at the countryside.

This would eventually morph into our upstairs bedrooms. Two “kids” rooms so small the drawers were recessed into the walls to make room for beds, plus a slightly bigger space for my parents.

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The lower main floor expanded in all directions. From the original four modest rooms, it became seven. Each room was added to a different side of the house without regard for architecture or logic. It was a classic of “country” design based on utility alone. Eventually, the dining room had no windows and the large “salon” had but one small opening that faced north.

The downstairs was dark as night all the time. And chilly.

Two stairways twisted around each other, but there were eighteen doorways. You could get lost in the twisting hallways of that house. Some hallways ended at a blank wall. Perhaps they had gone somewhere … once upon a time.

My parents loved it. From the day we moved in, they began a series of renovation projects that would never be completed. I can’t remember when it wasn’t being remodeled. I still have a horror of home renovation projects.

One year, a slow-moving contractor left us without a wall in the dining room through a long, freezing New York winter. We wore overcoats from November till April when finally, the walls for the new room were added.

With all this renovating going on, you’d think they’d have put in a modern heating system at some point, but they didn’t. They kept the converted coal burner that probably was original to the house. The radiators were surely antiques, ornate, cast-iron relics from the turn of the century — possibly earlier.

That old furnace was barely able to heat to the first floor. The second story was effectively unheated.

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I was cold in that house most of the time. I developed a love-hate relationship with bathing. I loved being in a tub of hot water. It was the only time I was entirely warm. Getting in or out of the tub was terrible. The bathroom was frigid and I was a tiny, skinny kid. The kind of kid that is always being urged to eat.

Even today, I have trouble convincing myself to get wet in anything but the warmest weather. I have a knee-jerk reaction that getting wet equals chilled-to-the-bone. Until I develop some momentum, it’s a battle.

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It’s odd how old, nearly forgotten memories live on in our bodies. Physical memory is sometimes more powerful that more normal mental images. Some of my physical memories elude my conscious brain completely. I react, but I have only a dim, shadowy memory fragment of why. A lot of things I can’t remember are probably best left on the trash pile of personal history.

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One thing has come back to me.

I had a cold childhood. Cold at night, cold by day. Cold relationships with cold people. It shaped me in all kinds of odd ways that still linger as I trudge forward into my “golden” years.

CHANGING PERSPECTIVE

Perspective

1 Corinthians

11   When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12   For now we see as in a mirror darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I too am known.

I’m not usually big on quoting the bible, but sometimes — and this is one of those times — no place says it better.

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I was an “old” child. When I was very young, I talked like a much older person. I read “adult person” literature and thought of myself as very mature. I wasn’t. I was intellectually precocious, but still a child. Who used big words and almost understood many adult things.

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Almost. There are a whole lot of things that simply don’t make sense until you’ve lived a life. Reading about life isn’t living it. A child, no matter how smart, is never more mature than his or her years and experience. That’s perspective.

Perspective isn’t static. At 10, you see things through 10-year-old eyes. As years and decades roll on, you see the same things differently, sometimes extremely so. Perhaps you really do see through a glass darkly. Or you should. If decades of living don’t change your perspective, something is wrong — with you or the life you’ve lived. We are supposed to change. The only things that don’t change are dead.

I hear people my age or even younger saying “Well, that’s the way I am. I’m not going to change.”

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There’s a terrible finality in that statement. A sad finality, like a eulogy for “self.”

Someday, I’ll be too old or sick for change. The end comes to everyone. But until then, I hope my perspective keeps changing. I hope I revise my opinions often and contradict myself frequently.

Perspective.

MY FATHER: AHEAD OF HIS TIMES – ELLIN CURLEY

Most of us believe that our current beliefs have been our beliefs forever. Of course we know that germs cause disease and that the earth is round. But people didn’t always know these concepts as “facts”. We once thought the earth was flat and had no idea what caused disease. Someone had to propose these “new” and “revolutionary ideas.And someone just as assuredly had to argue against them and give the proponent of the new ideas a hard time.

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My father was a brilliant, innovative thinker in the fields of psychiatry and the social sciences. All he got initially was a lot of grief and aggravation. Even today, only a few academics have heard of him.

His name was Abram Kardiner. He had a long and varied career in the fields of anthropology, sociology, and psychiatry from the 1920’s to his death in 1981. He deserves at least part of the credit for three major contributions: the idea of interdisciplinary studies, the concept of early, “pre-school” education, and acceptance and understanding of PTSD.

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Everyone knows that interdepartmental studies are the best way to thoroughly understand at least history and cultures. Didn’t we always apply the tools of sociology, economics, political history, art history and other cultural history to the study of history? The answer is no. In fact, the concept was anathema until the 1960’s.

When I went to Barnard College in 1967 (the sister school to Columbia University), I was one of the first classes to be able to take an interdisciplinary major. At the time, I was old enough to understand that my father’s struggles at Columbia University in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s had cleared the path for me to be an American Studies major in the 60’s.

My father studied with Sigmund Freud in 1921 and came back to New York to help establish psychoanalysis as an accepted and respected “new” field of science. But he was also interested in sociology and thought that using psychiatry to better understand the individuals in a society would help understand the society as a whole. So he decided to study more primitive cultures (anthropology) to further establish the interrelationships between the individual (psychiatry) and the society (sociology).

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Unfortunately at the time, each academic field was considered a totally separate entity. No one was allowed to stray into another academic’s carefully guarded territory.

For more than 30 years, my father was bounced back and forth between the psychiatry, sociology, and anthropology departments. No one wanted to claim him. He was “tainted” with methodology and ideas from a different discipline. This sounds ridiculous today, but even now, the only department at Columbia that recognizes his accomplishments is the Department of Psychiatry, the department he helped found.

When I had my first child, I enrolled him in play groups and I planned to send him to preschool when he turned three. My father, once again, had been on the front-lines years before, espousing the importance of the first three years of life. He believed that early childhood intellectual and social stimulation was necessary to foster a child’s ability to learn and to adjust socially throughout it’s life. His writings became the basis for Head Start, President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s program which provided pre-kindergarten for all kids. Dad also focused attention on the optimal environments for preschoolers to develop well intellectually, socially, and emotionally.

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Reading to your children, playing counting games, and talking to them — these concepts, now so familiar, became part of the standard of early child care because of my father. He helped prove, scientifically, how important these activities are both for children and for the society.

When a member of our family was ten, he had a tonsillectomy — and awoke during surgery. This resulted in PTSD as well as a myriad of other issues. Guess who was one of the first people to study PTSD and recognize it as a psychiatric syndrome?

You guessed it. My dad! He studied World War 1 veterans and built on Freud’s concept of psychiatric trauma. He published a book called “The Traumatic Neuroses of War” in 1941 but it wasn’t until the Vietnam War, in the 1970’s, that PTSD became a hot topic. Luckily, by 1991, further advancements in this field, building on my father’s work, helped our family cope with the aftermath of childhood trauma.

So, thanks Dad! You cleared the way for me to have the college major of my dreams, a well-educated toddler, and a family member with doctors who could understand and help him. I wish I could tell you your name is now known throughout the world for your amazing contributions.

But I understand and appreciate what you have contributed to society and now, maybe some blog readers will know, too.