Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I love Rothenberg. It's a walled, medieval city in Germany. It's like Disney World only it's real old stuff, not new stuff made to look old. I love everything about it. I go there every chance I get. When people come to visit it's the first place I take them. It's only about three hours away, but it's so much better when you spend the night.

Even though I've been dozens of times, I still take lots of pictures. There is one spot where we have created a tradition of photographing our guests. It's a covered foot bridge at the Spitaltor. Last week we completed our family collection of photographs at the bridge with the visit of Rob and Tracee to Germany for Christmas. Come with us to Rothenberg and we'll add you to the gallery. I thought I'd share them.

Jenny and Bob, November 2007

Chris and Lindsay, November 2007

Paul and Wendy Clinton, and Kelsey, July 2007

Bob and I, May 2004

Kevin and Kelly Culver, and Jenny, March 2006
Jenny, November 2007

Rob and Tracee, December 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Commercial Free Radio

Since we live in Germany, and we don't speak English, when it comes to news and entertainment we are slaves to AFN. On the Armed Forces Network, we can hear all the news we need - that they or NPR deem we need to hear - and, between the FM and AM stations, hear a variety of music and TONS of clever but annoying public service announcements, or as they are called affectionately, commercials. But they aren't really commercials but because that is the one element missing from the broadcasts and fill the space where a commercial might play, listeners refer to them as "commercials."

Don't get me wrong. The German stations are pretty good. For the most part they play American music - in English. But when it comes to a traffic report or weather or news, we surf back to the AFN station where we get very broad weather reports ("In Germany today you can expect a high of 41 degrees and cloudy skies....." Germany covers everything from Bavaria where there is tons of snow and often treacherous road conditions to our local area where we have 12 months of rain.), NPR news, and generic local reports on school assemblies, units and post office hours.
We also get sports talk shows. About five hours a day. It is these sports talk shows that prompt this writing.
I wake up early. I'm out of bed at 5:15 AM and
out the door by 6:20 AM. In that hour it's nice to listen to something. For several years it was "news and information" during that hour, but then it switched to a sports talk show. Are you kidding me? I tried listening to it, but it has become just plain noise.
I switched to the FM station and it's OK, but it's
all music, and since they boast playing a wide variety of music, occasionally you have to endure a style that is not to your liking.

On weekends the AM staion plays oldies music, but only overnight. They can brag that they play all kinds of music, but not that you have to stretch your day way out to enjoy it.

Last week I flipped the switch from AM to FM and happened upon some oldies music. So I left the dial right there. It went on and on - no breaks for an "Army Now" or "Air Force Today" or "Roads in the KMC are condition Amber." It was nice! Turns out that the Canadians living in Germany have their version of AFN, CFN. There are some wonderful radio shows broadcast. I have listened to some wonderful stories writen and submitted for broadcast on the show called Vinyl Cafe, and a replay of the American Top 40 Countdown with Casey Kasem from a selected date in 1967. And there truly are no commercials - PSA or otherwise.
"Oh Canada," thank you so very much.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank you for the fleas

Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to follow the admonition of the popular hymn and "Count Your Many Blessings." Here is a great story of thankfulness:

Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsie were Dutch women and devout Christians who hid Jews in their home during World War II, until the sisters were captured by the Gestapo and imprisoned. When they were transferred to Ravensbruck, the women's concentration camp, and moved into new quarters, their barracks were crawling with fleas. Corrie and Betsie had always been scrupulously clean and these vermin were abhorrent to them. Corrie tells the story:

"Here! And here's another one!" I wailed, "Betsie, how can we live in such a place!" "Show us. Show us how." It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.

"Corrie!" she said excitedly. "He's given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!" I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. ... "Here it is: 'Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all... . Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus--(1 Thessalonians 5:14-18)..... .'"

"That's it, Corrie! That's his answer. 'Give thanks in all circumstances!' That's what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!" I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.

"Such as?" I said.

"Such as being assigned here together."

I bit my lip. "Oh yes, Lord Jesus!"

"Such as what you're holding in your hands." I looked down at the Bible. "Yes! Thank you, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank you for all the women, here in this room, who will meet you in these pages."

"Yes," said Betsie, "Thank you for the very crowding here. Since we're packed so close, that many more will hear!"

She looked at me expectantly. "Corrie!" she prodded. "Oh, all right. Thank you for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds."

"Thank you," Betsie went on serenely, "for the fleas and for --" The fleas! This was too much. "Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea."

"'Give thanks in all circumstances,'" she quoted. "It doesn't say, 'in pleasant circumstances.' Fleas are part of this place where God has put us."

And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.

But as events turned out, it was Betsie who was right. Both Corrie and Betsie were diligent missionaries, constantly bearing testimony to God, bringing the hope of Christ to women trapped in that dreadful place. Betsie was too sick to go out with the brigades of women workers into the forest where the women had to gather wood. She was assigned to knit stockings for German soldiers; and because there were so many women, Betsie was in a group that had to work in the barracks instead of the work room. She was a lightning knitter who completed her quota ... long before noon. She kept our Bible with her and spent hours each [afternoon] reading aloud from it, moving from [sleeping] platform to platform.

One evening I got back to the barracks late... . Betsie was waiting for me, as always, so that we could wait through the food line together. Her eyes were twinkling. "You're looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself," I told her.

"You know we've never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room," she said. "Well-I've found out." That afternoon, she said, there'd been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they'd asked the supervisor to come and settle it. "But she wouldn't. She wouldn't step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?" Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: "Because of the fleas! That's what she said, 'That place is crawling with fleas.'"

My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie's bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for. (Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place, [New York: Bantam Books, 1971].)

Regarding thankfulness, President Monson has noted: "Gracias, danke, merci -- whatever language is spoken, 'thank you' frequently expressed will cheer your spirit, broaden your friendships, and lift your lives to a higher pathway as you journey toward perfection. There is a simplicity -- even a sincerity -- when “thank you” is spoken." (Source: President Thomas S. Monson, Think to Thank, Ensign (CR), November 1998, p. 17.)

Here's a website where you can learn how to write "Thank You" in over 465 different languages: http://www.elite.net/~runner/jennifers/thankyou.htm

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Old Stuff

Since I got all turned on to facebook - you know you have one, 'fess up - it has been so much fun connecting with uncles and nieces and cousins and nephews. Folks, both related and not, that I haven't had contact with for years. Decades. Embarrassingly long periods of time. Now all of a sudden I can stalk--er … have contact with--all of them. When the number of Blaylock "friends" reached about 40 I decided to start a facebook group. About 30 have joined although they are pretty slow on the uptake in regard to participating and posting but that's OK. It will come.

The group page was looking a little lonely, except for profile pictures of the members, so I decided to post some pictures and rather than have them all be my kids and my grandkids I went searching through my digital file and picture boxes for extended family pictures and found some great oldies. I'm posting them here, too. See slideshow.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

To Fix or to Feast

It's quiet here this evening. My husband left earlier in the day for a business trip - will be gone all week. Confession: I really don't mind that at all!! I know there are those out there that worry about me ("Please call if you need anything while he's gone."). I like being home alone. The first 36 hours I tend to get naughty - stay up late, eat junk food, and watch trashy TV. After that I get repentant and settle down to the task at hand. However, tonight the quiet is nice. No junk food, no TV. I'm feeling quite mature about it all.

Thanksgiving is coming and the chit-chat at church today was all about Thanksgiving plans. I noticed that while everyone else was comparing plans and making big gatherings larger by inviting more people, I was thinking small - like going to an Army dining facility. No cooking, no clean-up, delicious food at rock bottom cost. OK, so there's no leftovers, either, but the payoff is a relaxing, enjoyable day. Don't get me wrong - I love to cook. I read recipes recreationaly and love trying them out, but why make more work for yourself? We have even toyed with the idea of going away for the long weekend. I know, that sounds down right unAmerican but hey, WE CAN! And here in Germany it's not a holiday - things will be open. Christmas markets will be starting up, there is snow in the Alps -- so many possibilities.

I love this empty nesting!

Thanksgiving 2006, Baumholder