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Buying a Home In The Midst of A Pandemic

14 Mar

For our aging days, I decided we needed one-level living.  I searched and searched and found the perfect home.  We put an offer in on February 1 and closed on March 2.

Wait, who said there would be a global pandemic now!!!  We are among the many who just purchased a new home and are saying, “Hey What is going on?”  Yes, my anxiety level is high.  Why? Because we actually own our old home as well.  We are real estate rich.  Perhaps that is a good thing.  It might go down for a bit, but real estate usually goes up eventually.

With the markets crashing a little…. Well a lot.  (Although I guess Friday, things were a bit better).  With the world’s countries shutting their doors to tourism to contain the spread of corona virus, and our country finally banning all flights from Europe, perhaps I can see a few good points.  I always try to do that when I am worried.  I try to put the upset away in a little box in my mind and focus on the good.  So here we go!

First, I was supposed to be on a plane to Europe right now.   I am obviously not there.  I am sitting in my own home writing a blog.  But with the move, I think I am happy to be home.  I wonder if I will get any of my money back.  Even with travel insurance, I am not sure if global pandemic is covered.  I guess we will wait and see.

But also, I am not stranded in Europe.  I am in my own home/s cleaning one and bringing stuff to the other.  Which is unreal enough without the pandemic.

Colleges are going into remote learning.  I worry.  I hope they don’t stay that way.  High school graduates need to get away from home and learn about living in a college dorm where it is somewhat safe and they socialize away from home.  I would hate for that to end forever.  Please let this last just for a short while.  But at least the students can still learn.  Think about time before computers and live streaming.  School and learning would just end!

But at the same time, I am glad that Friday was the last day of school where I work.  We now have a ten-day break.  Perhaps that will help stop the spread of the disease.  Our entire area is starting spring break.  No one is traveling anywhere, or almost no one.  Since all flights to Europe are ending tomorrow for a month.  I think it is safe to say this will be a stay at home vacation.  We have been informed that there is a possibility that Spring Break will be prolonged.  An extra week at home.  I brought my work computer with me, just in case. 

However, what about all the stores and shops and theatres?  We are supposed to avoid large crowds.  I can do that.  Already several concerts, programs and shows we were supposed to attend in March and early April have been cancelled or postponed.  I. told my husband I have to renew our Symphony tickets now, so that they know we are not giving up on them!  I also plan to get take out food from some of our favorite restaurants.  I do not want those to close for lack of income.

With entertainment shutting down, we will have lots of time to pack and clean!  But more important, I will still have time to read the  six kindle books I downloaded for my trip!

My husband is a hospital-based physician.   As a pediatrician he sees lots of sick children. And though they will get corona virus, most will be just fine as their immune systems are developing and learning about new disease.  It’s us older folks who are in trouble.  Even though I am not ill, I made the decision to stop my volunteer work at an elder care facility.  Just don’t want to hurt these people who I have come to love. 

I plan to practice safe social distancing with everyone I know.  I will go to stores at off hours.  I am carrying a baggie filled chlorox wipes to clean everything I touch. Hugging and kissing even my son and his girl friend is out for now.  Elbow bumps and words of love will be enough.

My husband was supposed to be gone this weekend as well, at a medical meeting.  It was cancelled. Most hospital have told their staff not to go to any meetings right now.  They need their staff to be healthy.  The impact on the corona virus could be devasting to our already stressed health care system.  So I am spending much of my quiet time sending out prayers.

We will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary this month. Our plans included a trip to Europe and a cruise in late April. Although it has yet to be cancelled, we are already thinking that our 40th anniversary will be spent quietly at home.  We already purchased a new home!  What else could we possibly need?

I guess we won’t be spending too much money overseas, which is good because I had signed contracts previously to remodel much of the new home using some savings.  My husband says don’t worry, he has a job and he will be needed for a while.  Which is true.  But I had not counted on a major market downturn.

Here is my rant.  If you do not want to read anything political, please skip the next two paragraphs:

I do worry.  I worry about everyone who might suffer.  I worry about our government who seems to have no idea what to do.  I worry that the CDC has been slashed by politicians who have no idea what they are doing.  I am angry that the elected officials seem to care more about their own power and glory then about the health and well-being residents of our USA.

Buying a home and having a pandemic at the same time has made me rethink even more what I believe about our government and what politician really care about.  In Kansas we have a Senate leader who cares more about banning abortion then about the people of the state and refuses to expand Medicare even though the people want it and the senate has come to bipartisan agreement.  Her ignorance and self-righteous attitude will kill many more people than any abortion bill.  I hope she is voted out of office or is forced to resign.  In my mind she is an evil lady, sort of a Cruella DeVille, who wanted the Dalmatian puppies for her own nefarious plans.  So this senate leader is holding Kansans medical care hostage for her nefarious plan.

End of rant.

I believe we will get through this pandemic.  I know we will persevere.  We lived through 9/11 and the stress and anxiety that seemed overwhelming.  Perhaps this virus is a sign from the Divine that we need to work together. The world was getting too hostile.  Groups were not working together. Lots of nasty behavior.  To survive the corona virus, countries need to help each other and the world.  I hope this adds to a world more dedicated to peace as the leaders realize even more deeply how we are really one world.  Just one.  And we have to act as one.

Life Is An Adventure; How Key People Changed My Life

21 Nov

I think everyone has at least one person in their life that makes a comment or a suggestion that changes the course of life.  I know I do. Below are three of my important people.  Two were educators, to which I am sure many can relate.

I grew up in New Jersey, but now live in Kansas.  I did not get here by happenstance.  Rather, it was a series of people who made the right comment at the right time, that changed the direction of my life.

First comment came from Professor Jacqueline Berke at Drew University.  I was taking one of her classes when she told me that I should become a writer.  She loved how I wrote and told me that I had talent.  Up to that time, I never thought of being a journalist.  I did work on the school’s newspaper, “The Acorn,” and I had been an editor of my high school newspaper, “PawPrints.”  But I had not thought of journalism as a career.  Professor Berke’s comments set me on to a path that has guided me for over 40 years.

I applied for graduate school in journalism. I was only going to apply to Columbia University in New York City.  A visit to my high school changed that opinion. I visited with Celia Whitehouse, my English teacher and the advisor for both yearbook and newspaper at North Bergen High School.  I was one of the editors for both these publications.   I told her I was thinking about journalism.  She thought that was a great choice and suggested I apply to the University of Missouri-Columbia’s School of Journalism as well as Columbia university.  She had been a mentor throughout high school and college, so I listened and applied to both schools.

I got accepted to both schools!  Now I had to decide.   My Mom’s comment sealed the deal.  My parents made it clear that they expected me to live at home if I went to graduate school in New York City.  Then my Mom commented, “How will I sleep at night knowing that you will be going to Harlem every day.”  My answer was sincere and to the point.  “I am going to Columbia, Missouri, that way you will not have to worry about me, as you will have no idea what I am doing at night.”

Which is why I attended graduate school in Missouri.  I will admit, it was a major change for me to move from New Jersey/New York to Missouri.   But I survived.

My second day in Missouri, I met the person who would become my husband a few years later.  Being a St. Louis boy, he wanted to remain in the Midwest.  My fate was just about sealed. But one more person had to make an important comment.

We married while he was in medical school.  Then moved to Kansas City where he was a intern then a medical resident. I got a job at a Girl Scout Council working half time as their public relations director and half time as a field advisor.  In this role I would go to different areas within the Council to train Girl Scout leaders, meet with leaders and give advice.  But in reality, I learned as much from the leaders as they learned from me.

One of the areas I was in charge of was Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas.  I went monthly to the military base to meet with all the Girl Scout leaders providing information about what was going on in the Council, camping and other activities.  The woman in charge of Girl Scouts at the base was Jane Stilwell, the wife of the base commander.  I can still see her when I close my eyes.

In any case, after three years working for the Girl Scouts, I was going to have to quit my job, which I LOVED, and move to Michigan, where my husband was to begin a fellowship.  I was unhappy.  I wanted him to accept an offer as a general pediatrician and stay in Kansas City. I was miserable and I let everyone know how unhappy I was about moving.

Jane was not happy with me.   At the end of each year on the base, we had a luncheon at Jane’s home, a lovely Victorian home right on the river.  As everyone was leaving, she told me to stay.  Jane then gave me the most important lecture of my life.

She explained that being a military wife, meant you packed up and moved on a moment’s notice.  That not moving could destroy a career.  That I needed to think about what my husband wanted to do in learning more; how my decision, to be unhappy, could change the course of his life and mine.

She then told me that I had a choice in life.  I could look at this move as a prison or as an adventure.  If I chose to look at it as a prison, it would become a prison. But if I looked at it as an adventure, I could have a wonderful time and marvelous life.

She was RIGHT.  From that point on, I decided that Life was an adventure to be lived.  Her words touched my soul. I loved my two years in Michigan.  We traveled to Canada, Chicago and around Michigan. We made new friends. My husband completed his fellowship and we moved back to Kansas.  Jane Stillwell was gone. But her words continued in my mind and heart.

I still live in Kansas.  My husband has had a wonderful career that gave us the opportunity to travel as he gives lectures.  I have had so many adventures!

I still think of Jane’s most wonderful advice.  I tell that to people all the time.  You chose!  You decide if your life will be happy.  You cannot change other people, but you can change your reaction to what happens.  And if you chose to be happy and go on adventures, then you will enjoy the ride.

 

https://zicharonot.com/2018/05/11/end-of-the-school-year-has-me-bringing-out-my-old-yearbooks/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/01/19/my-days-in-the-english-department-office-at-nbhs/

Completing My Personal NASA Mission

10 Nov

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, I decided I needed to revisit the space centers. In June I went to Kennedy Space Center, which you can read about below. Yesterday I completed my mission with a visit to the Johnson Space Center in Space City … Houston Texas.

I had visited this Center 30 years ago with my husband and then three-year-old daughter. I found it much changed with an excellent museum area that caters to children and families with many hands-on exhibits.

Luckily for me the hotel I was out could sign me up for a tour of sorts. If two people wanted to go, the Houston Tour Company would provide a van for the round trip and the entrance tickets for the Space Center. When I first went to the concierge desk, I was the only one who had signed up. But I left my name and room number in case someone else was interested. My plan succeeded. Within a few hours I got a call that my trip was on. And then a friend of mine decided she would go as well.

The next morning we met our new friend and traveling partner along with our van driver, Ruby, for our adventure.

I first need to say that years ago when I went to the Johnson Space Center, we just wandered the lovely campus of the Space Center, walking to the different buildings on our own. Now it is much more controlled. The entrance ticket included everything. But to see the actual Johnson Space Center you now have to take a tram. There are two to chose from. The blue line, which we took, goes to Mission Control and to see the Saturn V rocket.

Seeing the control room where most of the space shuttle missions, and in a few short years, the Orion Missions, will be watched over by a flight director and his crew was interesting as was the presentation. We could see a live feed into an active control room where the space station was being watched.

Along the way to the next stop, our tram driver told us about the other buildings, including the Astronaut Training Center, which is the first destination of the red tram line. He also pointed out a grove of trees planted in memory of the astronauts who perished during a mission and others who had an important role in the space program. Both lines stop at the Saturn V building.

It is exciting to see the size of the Saturn V Rocket. It lies on its side so visitors can walk around it and see how it connected the different stages and fuel tanks. The Apollo capsules were just a tiny portion at the top of the rocket.

We took the tram back to the museum area, and went to a 15 minute movie about the history of the space program. When it is over you then tour an area that has the original Apollo 17 capsule and much more space memorabilia. But the highlight is the Discovery Space Shuttle perched on a 747. You can go up and enter both. In the place is an exhibit on how the space shuttle was attached for transfer. And you can enter the Space Shuttle and see how astronauts lived while on it.

Another highlight for me was seeing all the moon rocks and actually getting to touch one. The museum employee in the room said that this stone was once rough and thicker, but over the years has become as smooth as glass. I can attest to that as I ran my thumb over it along with all the children.

There is so much to do. We were there for five hours and could not see everything. There were two shows at the I-Max Theater, which we did not see. I wish we had checked the times of the shows when we entered. We might have arranged our visit a bit differently. However, it was fun and exciting to see all the artifacts from space.

I loved walking the exhibits and trying out some of the interactive activities. There are virtual rides to help you experience the actual feel of space. Many families stood on line for these activities.

I believe I have celebrated mankind’s space accomplishments with these two visits. I look forward to seeing the start of the Orion Missions.

For true space enthusiasts, I also recommended a visit to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas, and the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. I have visited both places when my daughter and son went to Space Camp. (See blog below.)

https://zicharonot.com/2019/06/06/visiting-kennedy-space-center-my-celebration-of-the-walk-on-the-moon/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/03/07/our-daughter-not-an-astronaut/

Watching Tango, Flamenco and Arabic Dance Performances is Like Watching Ballet

6 Oct

After years of ballroom dance lessons, by husband and I still dance whenever we have the opportunity.  But besides dancing ourselves, we enjoy watching other, who are much better, dance as well.

My favorite dance is the tango.   We never danced a true Argentine tango, we danced more of American ballroom tango.  We did learn a few basic and important tango steps like the ochos (figure eight swivels), corte (a sort of forward lunge for the woman), and the gancho (hook a leg around your partner’s leg).

Although we never became proficient in our tango, we have enjoyed watching others dance it professionally.    I loved the tango scenes in the movies Zorro and True Lies.  But to be honest Antonio Bandaras dancing a tango is quite nice whether it is in Evita, Take the Lead or Zorro.

A favorite for me is the tango between Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez in Shall We Dance.  MY husband and I both loved that movie.  It was so fun to watch an awkward man, uncomfortable with dance, become better throughout the movie. This tango is the start of his ability to actually dance.  The movie reflects my husband’s improvement.  He started out not knowing anything about dance. But now he loves to dance.

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Tango in Buenos Aires. You can see the band above the dancers.

We have been to Montevideo, Uruguay, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, the two cities where researchers believe tango was created in the 19th century.  Of course, we had to go see a true tango, which we did while we were in Buenos Aires.  It was excellent.  The dance is so quick in Argentina, unlike the slow dance we do in American ballroom tango.

The group dances were invigorating, but I loved the performances best when it was just one couple on the stage dancing together. This is the moment that I thought I saw true tango.  This is the tango I wish I could dance!

I also love the music in tango!  At the tangos I have seen, musicians play the guitar and the bandoneon, which is a small accordion-like instrument.  But I have also seen when even more instruments are played, including violins, flutes and piano in addition to the guitar and bandoneon.

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The group we saw in Malaga, Spain.

Instruments also play a part in Flamenco.  The guitar and a drum to sound the beat are usually played. Flamenco, which is a much older dance from at least the 18th century, is another dance we enjoy watching.  No one knows exactly how it started, except that it was different groups of people who came together in Andalusia, southern Spain, and the Flamenco was born.  For me in was interesting that there might even be a Sephardi Jewish influence in the dance.

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The woman in the red scarf sang with such emotion.

But Flamenco, unlike tango, has other important part besides the dancing.  There is the singer, who sings a story with unleashed pathos. Also, unlike Tango, one person can dance Flamenco, without a partner.

We have seen Flamenco danced in Barcelona, Spain; Malaga, Spain; and at a performance in Kansas!  That surprised me as well. But the group who came to a local college was wonderful and the performance was packed.

I admit that some of the Flamenco shows I have seen were touristy.  But even in these some of the performances were extraordinary. Flamenco is not a dance you can just learn for social dancing. This takes intense emotion, training and experience. However, you can still watch and appreciate the performance.

I will admit that to me the Flamenco reminds me of a belly dance or Arabic dance performance.  This is something I do know, as in my younger days I took years of Arabic dance lessons.  Like Flamenco, the older Arabic dance is a form of folk dancing, this one originating in Egypt.  I see in this dance and the Flamenco the movements of the torso and the hips and the intense emotion of the dancing and the artist.  It is also another dance, unlike ballroom dancing, where one person dances alone intent in his or her own emotions.

As I was doing research for my blog, I saw that there is a theory that this type of Arabic dance is one of the elements that combined together to create the Flamenco.

I love dancing.  But just like when I go to a ballet, and realize I cannot do what the wonderful dancers can do.  I realize I can enjoy the performance, which is exactly what I do when I see tango, Flamenco and Arabic dance programs.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argentine_tango

https://www.tejastango.com/terminology.html

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b24a_2NPleg

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamenco

https://www.britannica.com/art/flamenco

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibaPTk0D5Xg

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belly_dance

 

Lovely Gardens and Amazing Fountains: Peterhof Palace

29 Sep

 

 

An afternoon at the Peterhof Palace is not quite enough.  When we visited this summer palace of the tzars, which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, we only walked the gardens. But that is fine, we had already been at the Hermitage and the Summer Palace in Puskin.  I cannot imagine that the inside of the Peterhof Palace was any less grand than those. However, I do know that it seems a bit smaller.   What makes Peterhof unique are the unbelievable fountains and gardens.  Spending an afternoon walking the grounds was amazing.

I am quite used to seeing lovely fountains.  Living in the Kansas City area, we are used to seeing fountains along the boulevards, in historic areas and near and in the Country Club Plaza. In fact, Kansas City is referred to as the City of Fountains.  We so do love our fountains here.

Perhaps it is this affinity to fountains that made Peterhof so mesmerizing. But then I think anyone would be impressed.

Peterhof is like fountains on steroids!  The overwhelming size and number and variety of fountains is fantastic.  I use words like fantastic, amazing, overwhelming and awesome with a whole heart.

No one can come away without being amazed by the engineering that makes these fountains possible to run for hours every day without electricity.  Just water and gravity!  There are no pumps, just water from natural springs and one aqueduct fueling the incredible number of fountains. The gardens were designed by Alexandre Le Blond. I am not sure if he also did the engineering for the fountains.

Our tour guide promised us that we would see close to 200 fountains on our amble through the lower gardens.  I think we did.  Although I will admit that she counted all the water sprouts in each fountain separately. So what! They were still amazing.

 

There is the Grand Cascade and Samson fountain right behind the palace.  There is a children’s fountain with dancing waters. There is a secret fountain through a path of trees that sets a spray of water over anyone walking by. Personally, I especially loved the giant slide of a fountain, called the Dragon Hill Cascade. The statues of this fountain were buried before the Nazis got there and so survived the occupation.  You can see a display of photos explaining what happened.

Much of the Peterhof gardens, fountains and buildings were destroy by the Nazis in the Second World War. But almost immediately after the war, like with the other palaces, the country started work on renovating and repairing the grounds and buildings.  There are large photos that show what Peterhof looked like right after the war.  It is amazing what was accomplished!

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Peter’s private home.

Included on the grounds are other lovely buildings, including  a much smaller ‘palace’ that Peter the Great actually designed and stayed in.  It is lovely and quaint from the outside. We could peek into the open windows to see inside.  But it is the view from the rear of the building that catches the attention and you understand why the tzar wanted to stay in this quiet home.  The view of the Gulf of Finland, which leads to the Baltic Sea, is lovely.  It is so peaceful there, I can imagine him sitting by himself and just relaxing! Can a Tzar relax?  If yes, this is just the place.

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A lovely greenhouse. One of my favorite buildings.

If you enjoy walking outside admiring gardens and fountains, then Peterhof should be on your list to see.   To be honest, I went serendipitously as it was part of my tour.  It was a day well spent.

 

https://www.britannica.com/place/Peterhof

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peterhof_Palace

 

A Fairy Tale Country, Estonia

21 Sep

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Spending a day in Tallinn, Estonia, was like being inside a fairy tale country.  I loved the old city with its quaint streets, towers and churches.  Tallinn is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it deserves that status.  But more than then the look of the country was the feel of the country.

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The tower is called Tall Hermann

I love that they name their towers and weather vanes.  I love the magical feel of the old city and its cobblestone walkways.

Behind the beauty, Estonia has had its hardships.  Torn between two powers who wanted their ports on the Baltic Sea and its resources, both Germany and Russia/Soviet Union invaded Estonia many times over the years.  But in 1939 the worst happened when Hitler and Stalin signed a treaty dividing Estonia between the two and the two powers invaded Estonia from different sides of the country.

Our tour guide in Tallinn, a lovely young woman, told us that this was the worst.  People were torn between choosing between two evils.  And the Soviet Union proved to be a great evil, taking over the country and killing or deporting all the political and business leaders.

The only positive I see from this however, is this occupation saved the majority of Estonia’s Jewish population, which was about 4000 before the start of World War Two. By then end of the war, about 1000 of Estonia’s Jewish residents were murdered in the Shoah. The others had escaped into the Soviet Union and so survived. After the war, 1500 Jewish residents returned.

After World War 2, Estonia entered a 50-year occupation by the Soviet Union. Estonia was terrorized.  Our guide explained how all access to the Baltic Sea were closed by the Soviets, who put military bases there. People could not get out.  Help could not get in. She explained life as lived by her parents and grandparents.  It was not a happy time.

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A statue of Ernesaks overlooks the Song Festival Grounds.

 

But in Estonia, they came up with their own way of revolution that did not included guns or violence. The Singing Revolution started with the singing of the national song, “Land of My Fathers, Land That I Love.”  For years they sang this song in rebellion against Soviet rule.  Gustav Ernesaks, the “Father of Song” for the country who helped start the song festival movement, helped in this non-violent rebellion. The singing events were held on the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds.

The Singing Revolution lasted four years. Multiple songs and citizens singing saved Estonia!  Tallinn is also known for the large chain of people, over two million, that spanned from Tallinn to Vilinius in August 1989.  Singing songs and then slowly moving forward with small steps of rebellion and independence worked. By 1991, Estonia gained its independence.

Along with the freedom for all Estonians, came renewed freedom for its Jewish residents after 1991.  In 2007 a synagogue opened.  Today about 2000 Jewish residents live in Estonia. It is a small but secure population.  According to our tour guide and to what I have read, the Jewish population lives in comfort and without any issues thanks to a law that protects all minorities in Estonia.  There is a synagogue, a Jewish Day School, a Jewish Museum and a Jewish Community Center. I wish I could say that I visited all these Jewish sites, but I did not.  I wish I had researched Tallinn before I went. So I put links below to the Jewish sites of Tallinn.

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I loved my day in Tallinn.  Visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site was a lovely experience.  Somehow, it seemed appropriate and joyful, to see a bride.

 

https://www.ejc.ee/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/304672/jewish/History.htm

https://muuseum.jewish.ee/

Lessons I Learned While Traveling Through Countries Along Baltic Sea

16 Sep

During our two-week cruise of the Baltics, we visited Holland, Denmark, Germany, Russia, Finland and Sweden.   I never realized how close these countries are to each other, just hours away across the Baltic.  And I never realized how intertwined their histories made their peoples and languages and flags!  The architecture repeats itself in every city as influences of Sweden, Denmark, Holland, German and Finland structures can be found in all the cities, and a combination of these styles.

I met many tour guides.  Some were better than others.  But several gave sound advice that I want to remember forever.  In fact, I need to share them.

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Typical steps of unexpected heights!

We spent two days in St. Petersburg and had an excellent guide on our first day.  A retired engineer, she was now guiding tourists through the maze of royal palaces.  Her excellent advice: “Be aware of steps/stairs of unexpected height.”   I think it was her engineering background speaking. But it was so true.  With the cobblestone streets and the old buildings, many times we faced stairs and steps of unexpected height.

Often as we crossed the street or entered a building she would intone, “Be aware of steps of unexpected heights!” Her words resonated through my mind many times during the nine-hour day of touring.  I think, thanks to this lesson, we never fell, we were always aware, no matter what country we were in.

Another day in St. Petersburg, another tour guide with a different message. (She was a retired college professor.) “Don’t demonstrate your water bottle.”   I think what she was really saying is don’t make a big deal out of things.  It was very hot when we were there. Unexpectedly warm.  And many people had water bottles with them.  I kept mine on the bus. But others, especially older adults, needed their water.

However, at certain places, you are not supposed bring a water bottle in.  However, with the heat, they were making exceptions.  So, our guide said.  “Water bottles are not allowed, but don’t demonstrate your bottle. Put it in your back pocket and go through security.”  I guess if the guards wanted to take it away, they could. But not hiding, while at the same time, not making an issue of it, was the best policy. Thus several of our comrades on the tour kept their water bottles with them throughout.

In Denmark, I learned two important lessons.  The guide we had on a day when it was pouring rain, told us that in Denmark the saying is, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.”  I concur.  I had packed our Land’s End raincoats and good walking shoes.  We stood in the rain, without getting really wet, as the water skimmed over our coats, while others were drenched.  Meanwhile,  all around us, the Danes walked freely without umbrellas, ignoring the weather and  just strolling through town in the rain.

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He was wearing good clothes as he splashed in the puddles.

I especially enjoyed seeing a young boy dressed in his very good rain clothes and boots splashing through all the puddles in a park as his Mom pushed his stroller as she ambled along next to him.  Good clothes do make a difference!

I will admit, the first tour guides words resonated with me during the rain in Denmark. As we walked the cobblestones and the steps of unexpected heights, I looked down and carefully placed my feet on the wet and slippery walkways.

The Danish tour guide’s other lesson was that umbrellas are not needed because they don’t work. Also true.  I had an umbrella at the beginning of the day. While we walked the streets of the city, it seemed fine.  But by the time I returned to the ship, the only place for that twisted and ragged umbrella was the trash.  You do not need an umbrella in Copenhagen or Arhus.  You just need good clothes!

I loved our tour guide in Stockholm.  She had an attitude that I appreciated.  The problem with most tours is that some people are always late, taking up time from everyone else.   She kept a steady pace wherever we went, shouting back to the slower walkers, “You can’t get lost, there is only one way to go …straight.”

She told us outright, when we left for a short period of time on our own, after she showed us the main square, that if we did not make it back to our bus at the assigned time, she would assume that we were staying in town.   We were adults and we could find our own way back.

And I appreciated that she said that, but then her soft side showed.  We had one woman on our tour who walked slowly using a cane.   When she and her husband were not back at the bus on time, our guide said, “I am just going to check the corner to see if they are coming.”  We all agreed that was a great idea.  And it was, as the couple were slowly moving up the hill and being careful on the steps of unexpected heights.