Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Remember Our Old-Fashioned Christmas

Christmas may be over for this year, but it will never be over in my memory. I remember many Christmas celebrations of my youth but the years we lived on our mountain property in Norway are holding a special place.

Our house was built around 1860 and the walls were made of solid logs. Our living room boasted the original logs in their aged beauty. On the evening of December 23rd I brought in our 7ft. Christmas tree of a Norwegian Spruce. We had real candles on it and weren’t even afraid of a fire.
Other Christmas decorations were of real thin glass and some were quite old.
On the morning of Christmas Eve neighbours used to come by for a chat. We had always coffee going in the house. Smile 
At around 4pm we’d be heading down to the main village for church. The church was beautifully decorated and the old wooden pews did not offer enough seating for everyone. So usually extra chairs were put up for the service. A choir were singing the old Christmas songs. My favorite was “Deilig er jorden” which actually is known as a psalm in North America.

After the service we drove home into our own little village where we now had our delicious Christmas supper. The house was full of wonderful smells, some from the kitchen and others from our spruce tree and the candles.
After supper we would light the candles on the tree and turn off all electric lights. Our tree was the most beautiful in the world. Looking out of the window we could see the outlines of the mountains shimmering in the dark with their silvery reflections off snow-covered peaks. Not a sound would be disturbing the peace. The night would be clear with millions of glittering stars, and if we were real lucky we would have a show of the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights. We had no TV  and never missed it either. Before we would go to bed, we liked to take a walk through the village. It was the most peaceful view I ever saw….light was shining out of every window casting reflections in the snow. It was a walk through the real Winter-Wonder-Land.

Have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

It’s About 5 Years Ago That It Happened

I have enjoyed 3 days off work schedule and this morning was going to be the last morning of those 3 days. I got up, made coffee and was perusing the internet for a while.
While boiling coffee water I noticed that our drinking water supply which we keep in a separate container, was getting low. So after breakfast I went outside to refill the container as well as our freshwater tank. We just can’t keep a constant water line connected to the trailer. It would all freeze up. Now, you all know those 5 gallon jugs you see in most stores. We have one of those and I had filled that one. It was pretty slippery outside and I had trouble with keeping my feet under me, when I grabbed that jug to get it to the entry door. Lifting the full jug I kind of slipped a bit but got myself righted up. The very instant I did that, a sharp pain shot through my lower back and I came up crooked to the door. Man….I was hurting. Somehow I got inside the trailer confessing to Bea. My old back pain had caught up with me. Last time that happened was about 5 years ago.

As soon as I moved around excruciating waves of pain started up, so I just sank down in a chair.
heat bottleBea made me a bottle of hot water which was placed behind my back. It did feel good and now, after several hours of that treatment, I feel somewhat better.

hexenschuss_hebenIn Germany it’s called Hexenschuss (witch shot)
I am hoping the best for tomorrow’s work when I have to lift people’s baggage again.

We had a busy Christmas, working all the time, but it was also rewarding to meet a lot people who had to travel during the holidays.
While the weather has stayed mild over Christmas, it has now taken on a different pattern. Night temps are down to –20C and day highs are around –15C. That is still not too bad knowing that Alberta can be in a deep freeze of more than –30C this time of the year.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Penguins In The Evening

We are not people who go out very often. It’s usually best to stay home for us and, frankly, going somewhere around these parts means having to beat traffic, which really puts me off.

However, yesterday evening was the exception. Over the last 2 years we have been dragging around with 2 movie tickets we once received from our Credit Card Company. No they were not free as Credit Card Companies never give you ANYTHING for free. We had paid for it by redeeming “rewards”.


Over those 2 years these tickets “disappeared” half a dozen times but were always recovered in a mystical way. Now, Edmonton has several CINEPLEX theatres which is the only place the tickets are worth something.

Since we neither partake in the Christmas shopping hysteria, we decided that now was the time to make some use of them tickets.

Bea made the decision that we should see PENGUINS IN MADAGASCAR.  Sure enough a title which promises SOME entertainment and causes my level of curiosity to spike.
The theatre is located some 8kms away and is part of the famous West Edmonton Mall. That meant that we had to get there early, as parking would be an issue.

And it was!

The place was packed with crazy looking Christmas shoppers. Pandemonium everywhere!
Making headway through the crowds was an adventure in itself. Finally we located the Cineplex at the very end of a long wing and wayyy up a long staircase. Since the Penguins were in 3D (Oh my..) we had to pay 3 Bucks extra pp. That was OK with me, but then we had an entire hour extra to kill. What to do? My feet were hurting already and my desire to sit down somewhere led us to an ice cream parlour. Not really a parlour but rather an ice cream stand. Not too bad I say. We had ourselves a Sundae each for the sweet price of $6.45 plus tax EACH. But it was good – at least.

After devouring such delicacies we made our way back up the staircase to the Penguins. We were still 25 minutes early for the performance, so we kind of had the choice of seating ourselves where ever we desired.

Once the giant screen came to life it was not to start the Penguins but to flood us with all kind of TV commercials which lasted --- well about 40 minutes. I started to get annoyed. But then FINALLY we saw the “DREAMWORKS” logo pop up and a wide white landscape animation opened up. And here they came…..Penguins by the hundreds.

But the show is really only about 3 of them plus a rolling egg, from where yet another one (Penguin) emerges. That is after the egg has bounced down to a rusty old ship wreck.
Now I don’t want to spoil the fun for you (in case you want to see the movie yourself) but I just mention that a ferocious battle starts between a wild horde of octopus creations and our 4 Penguin heroes.  However, it wouldn’t be a good movie without a Happy End. The movie boasted many comical animations causing a lot of chuckles in the watching crowd. 

A well-spent evening we will not forget any time soon.

It’s Christmas Eve and with that many memories are circling around in my head. This Christmas Eve is different from any earlier Christmas Eves we ever had. We are both working but we will have time off between Christmas and New Years.

We wish all of our readers where ever they are in the world a Merry Christmas and may all your wishes come true.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dec. 21 = Start Of Winter. Really?

Thinking back, winter started some time back in November. But official start of winter is December 21. Funny thing is that ever since we got into this Christmas month of December the weather gods have been extremely gentle with us. All throughout this month temperatures have been hovering around the freezing mark, which I directly compare to last winter’s temps in northern Florida. So it seems that the Almanakers have been right when predicting a “Tropical Winter” for western Canada.

Well, lets not praise the day before evening has come. Things can still get pretty nasty. But at least so far we have been more than lucky. Snow has all but disappeared, only a thin frozen layer remains of the once powdery white stuff.

The other big topic of the town is the oil price. Of course, everybody is happy that gas can now be had for under 80cts/liter, but the Alberta government is brooding over how to compensate for the short-comings of their budget. While all that talk has been going on, the opposition “Wild Rose Party” has decided to throw in the towel and rather join the Progressive Conservatives when lucrative jobs are handed out. Talk about deceiving their voters!

Well, this provincial political wish-wash is nothing compared to what is going on in the U.S. of A. But we shan’t talk about that, shall we? There is this dividing border which makes us Canadians to “Aliens”.
I have recently met a great deal of people who have set the holiday destination to be Cuba. That’s right… Cuba as in Castro.  They have already expressed concern that American ventures will soon run up the price level on the island. That is if the USA is starting to see things like they should have been seen a few decades ago. While European ventures have been welcomed by Fidel, American capital has been absent. That must have been a thorn in the eye of quite a few American corporations. But Fidel’s brother has spoken that “socialism” is not to be abandoned. And really, try to think about it: Hasn’t America done a whole lot of business with borrowing money from communistic China?  Tzztzzz…..

I don’t want to speak about a lot of Republicans who are still seeing Canada as a socialist country. But there might be just a tad more of social responsibility in the great white of North America.

And that’s all of today’s ramblings. In case writer’s block hits me and you won’t be able to delight in further reading of this blog before Christmas please accept our best wishes for a

Friday, December 12, 2014

Molly Doesn’t Like The TV

Ever thought that we humans could profit of learning from animals? I did a couple of times and every time it was from a dog. Molly is no exception. As soon as I turn on the TV she’s leaving the living area and goes “to bed” in a corner besides our bed. Why? Probably it’s too loud or there is something else she doesn’t like. We can turn it down and yet she leaves our company. That’s OK with us. She is a 12yr.old lady and has a right to enjoy some peace.
And frankly, I think TV-watching has migrated into some kind of escape from reality. Take f.ex. those countless hapless afternoon shows. You seen one, you seen them all.  Naw…we don’t watch much of that.

Edmonton and most of Alberta is currently experiencing a warm-up which has brought day temps to +9C yesterday. Road ice has melted off and much snow has disappeared.

I am still watching the decline of the oil prices. (under 59Dollars/barrel) Already has there been dire warnings from the Alberta Premier announcing adjustments to Provincial Budgets. I have spoken to oil workers telling me that the lay-offs have started to take effect for all “projects”. Yesterday, the Bank of Canada let us know that Real Estate especially in the western part of the country, is overvalued by anywhere between 10—30%. The “Black-Suits” in the oil towers of Calgary are popping up in the media announcing their concerns. I suspect that this will lead to a slashing of wages over the next 6 months. They always do this.

Soon it will be time to moving home.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Randi’s Drawings

Girl Horse 001 Horse002
Horse008 Horse004 horse005
Horse010 Wolf Horse011
If you’d like to have one or several of Randi’s Drawings as a print, please contact her through her Facebook page.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Is America In Need Of A Monarchy And A Historical Parallel

Rarely have I seen such an outpouring of sympathy towards a Royal couple than now under the visit of Prince William and his Duchess of Cambridge in New York City. It almost beats Canada’s enthusiasm for the pretty looking young couple. America is not a Commonwealth country, yet it musters a cheering crowd when the Royal couple is visiting the Big Apple. Well done America!

I do think that Monarchy can mean a lot to a country, if not anything other than just to symbolize unity towards something the population is sharing with each other.
I have lived in a country with a Royal Family and I have neither before nor ever after noticed a country with a more devoted relationship to their Royal Head of State than Norway.

Political parties may disagree and be at war with each other, but the Royals are the politically neutral force all sides can agree upon.

Of course, there will always be the voices mentioning the cost of keeping a Royal family, and the UK is just the best example for that. However, I think that political parties are incurring a much higher cost fighting each other under elections, and nobody seems to be too concerned with that.
While the Red Carpet was rolled out for the Royals, International Stock markets showed a sharp decline, all due to the historically low price of oil, A financial broker dared to predict the oil to reach a low of 43 Dollars next year. If that happens Alberta will have no more active oil industry and thousands will get laid off. It might indeed have consequences far beyond Canada’s borders.
It will also lead to that oil companies will leave the mess they have created in the Tar Sands without further mitigation and reclamation. Taxpayers will then have to pick up the tap for the clean-up.
Of course, nobody wants to speak of such scenarios as it is politically inconvenient and potentially damaging. If you are interested you may read the article down below.

Boom and Bust in Alberta
An oil boom creates scores of multi-millionaires but then the party ends

In the 1970s, Alberta was hit by a modern-day gold rush. Oil prices soared and adventurers flooded into the province in a frenzied hunt to strike it rich.


In 1973, a worldwide oil crisis ushered in an Alberta oil boom. (Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa)

For geologist Jim Gray, these were the glory days in Alberta when the pioneer spirit was alive and well.

"Lets drill that well. Lets take that land. Lets not talk about this for the rest of the day. And lets not have a bloody committee. And if we fail, well fail big. But if we win, were gonna win big."

Gray did win big. He and his partner, John Masters, discovered Elmworth Deep Basin, a gas field west of Grande Prairie, Alberta, which turned out to be the second largest in North America.

"It was a great moment of self-satisfaction, especially when you find it where everyone else said not to go," said Gray, who formed the company Canadian Hunter.

Gray - a devout Mormon from Kirkland Lake, Ontario - quickly joined the wild pace of Calgary’s oil world.

"There are over seven hundred oil and gas companies here," Gray said. "Its heavy competition. Some people cant keep up with it. We’ve got a high incidence of social stress. Divorce, drinking, suicide. But there’s a lot of us who thrive on it."

Imperial Oil lay claim to Alberta's first big oil strike in 1947. But the oil frenzy more than two decades later would be touched off by an event half way around the world.

On October 6, 1973, Egyptian tanks crossed into Israeli-occupied territory and Syrian troops moved towards Jerusalem. Israel, backed by the United States, rebuffed the attack.

On October 16, there was a meeting in Kuwait at which Arab oil producers discussed the prospect of using their oil resources as leverage, hoping to get western nations to back away from their commitment to Israel. They cut production initially by 25 per cent, with plans for further cuts of 5 per cent a month until a Middle Eastern settlement could be reached.

The price of oil quickly soared; it had been selling for $3 (U.S.) a barrel, and it climbed to $15 almost overnight. By the end of the decade, the price was almost $40 a barrel as OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, maintained its quotas and Iran, a major oil exporter, erupted in civil war.

In Alberta, the oil boom was creating more multi-millionaires than anytime before in Canadian history. Alberta’s Bible belt image was replaced by the notion of oil wealth, with all its attendant perks and vices.

For a while, it seems as if money really did grow on trees. And everyone wanted a piece of the action.

During the 1970s, the provinces population increased by a third. Four thousand people a month flood into the province, looking for a share of this modern-day gold rush.

"We would work seven days a week, sixteen, twenty hours a day," said oil rig worker Dwayne Mather. "I was young) and full of all kinds of ambition and it was great, a great time."

The Alberta oil industry boomed, transforming the cities of Calgary and Edmonton

At the height of the boom, Calgary issued more than $1 billion worth of construction permits annually, more than Chicago or New York. Apartment vacancy rates approached zero as Ontarians and Maritimers arrived daily in search of high-paying jobs.

The housing market boomed, oil stocks rose, and an entrepreneurial spirit, once exclusive to businessmen, was awakened in professors, lawyers, and dentists, who began speculating in real estate and experimenting with oil ventures.

At Calgary’s Petroleum Club, new Canadian millionaires rubbed shoulders with American oil company presidents. The big players swap tales and make deals. Jim Gray thrived on the competition:

"Everybody wanted to be in a big building. Everybody wanted to have a corporate airplane. Young people with two or three or four years experience were getting together with some other friends and starting their own little oil and gas company."

But the frenzied greed of the Alberta oil boom would take its toll. By the early 1980s, too rapid expansion and a world-wide economic recession hit the industry hard.

As unpredictably as it began, the Alberta oil boom was over.

In 1982, Dome Petroleum, the country's largest oil company, avoided collapse with a last-minute bailout package with Ottawa and the banks.

Within two years, mirroring trends elsewhere in the country, unemployment in the province rose from 4 to 10 per cent. For the first time in more than a decade, Alberta had more people leaving the province than coming in. The province led the nation in housing foreclosures, bankruptcies and suicides.

The Calgary Heralds classified section bulged with homes for sale, sometimes including the contents and cars. The city had 2.3 million square metres of vacant office space, and its real estate speculators and oil investors had reverted to their former careers as teachers, dentists, and taxi drivers.

In 1986, Alberta received another economic blow when world oil price declined steeply.


As you can see oil reserves…and prices have served political agendas before. Is that the case today as well? Do we have the low price to weaken the economies of the West? It would not surprise me at all. The U.S. has decreased the import of oil from the middle east, leaving those oil producing countries with a lot less revenue.


Only the future will tell what path our economy will take.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

AND THIS LITTLE POSTING IS FOR OUR FRIEND SASSY. (but you might look at it as well) 

Sassy, we just wanted to show you a new way of loading your bike. Given the fact that you have a Harley you need to start a good distance away from the ramp.

An Interesting Thought

Some folks might have been a tad surprised by reading the headline of my last posting. Rest assured, we are not gonna go ahead with this truly crazy idea. But for the fun of it I went and checked monthly mortgage payments IF someone would be eligible for a 25Mill mortgage. At a 4% interest and over a 30 years amortization period the monthly payments would be a staggering USD118,000. Even working 24/7 with an hourly wage of $163.88 (daily $3,933.33) wouldn't leave us 1 cent for paying any bills or the daily food.

And that tells me that people who actually can afford such luxuries are earning an indecent income if compared to the 99% of the rest of the population.

And it’s not of any real concern for me as I don’t care for that 1% of the population who actually make that kind of money.

Anyway, it’s Sunday and we are having the 2. of Advent. The Alberta weather is showing its sunny side. Temperatures just barely under the freezing mark let us take Molly on a nice walk. And it’s even getting warmer for the coming week.

Let’s get the shorts out and re-open the swimming pool!

Thanks for dropping by!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Should We Move To Palm Springs?

Bea and I are seriously wondering whether to move to Palm Springs, CA. Reason for that is the latest development re. the sale of Bob Hope’s estate in Palm Springs. The seller has slashed the price in half. It went from 50Mill Bucks to the half.


I will make contact with the real estate firm next week. Maybe, just maybe we get it another million of two down in price. Oh…and then I have to negotiate with my bank for a mortgage. I wonder what my equity value is gonna be. I was always wondering how it would be living in a flying saucer. Bob Hope’s house would be the closest we will come to experience the feel. And think about it, we would always be in the sun. No more snowbirding to get away from the nasty Canadian Winter. No more driving 3000+ miles to get to Holtville. Yeah, we would save big time on fuel. That might even be enough to pay an entire hundredth percent of the mortgage. I’D LOVE THAT. And then there is many bedrooms in the house. We will invite all our friends to stay with us. Here’s the news which brought up the idea.

Bob Hope's Palm Springs estate

Photos: Bob Hope's Palm Springs estate

This radical design, done for Bob Hope and his wife, is perhaps the most iconic desert residence in Southern California, though not without controversy. It's now half of its original $50 million asking price.

Photos: Bob Hope's Palm Springs estate
I wonder though whether there is a parking space for our RV. Or….may be we just sell it eh?

Photos: Bob Hope's Palm Springs estate
Instead of a camp fire we will host star-gazing evenings. Look at the skyward view!

Wouldn’t that be nice?  EH?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ordered 4 New “Shoes” for The Campobello Van And Bea has come To A Seniors Center.

It didn’t take us long to figure out that our “Campobello Van” needed better tires, if we wanted to drive it over the winter. New shoes for the 1t.-van are not coming cheap. No Sir….I got a couple of quotes, some of them being “off the wall” and others just not being the right type of tread on them. At the end of the day I went with the offer from that tiny tire shop which had helped me with a tire repair a few weeks ago. Their price was acceptable and I got to choose what kind of tire I really wanted. When buying tires for winter use it is important that the tread allows for trapped snow to escape to the sides, thus keeping the right grip on the surface. Here you can see the one I chose. It’s a SIGMA all-weather tire. It has lots of room for snow and the tread is open to the sides.

If you wonder about the second part of today’s headline it’s not that Bea has moved to a Seniors Residence. (She isn’t that old yet…:-)
But she landed a job in a seniors residence and is currently enjoying her first day at work. Smile

Winter is currently “on leave” as temperatures have gone up, up and up. Needless to say, this is good news as we use much less propane and even can enjoy a few daily walks with Ms.Molly. Sun is out too and this afternoon it was downright nice outside.

Gas prices are still doing their slow descend to rock-bottom and while that is going on, critical voices are increasing in volume warning against the fall-outs of a low oil price. But I’m asking myself how did our society survive previous years when the price at the pump was that low? Now and all-of-a-sudden we’re crying Wolf anticipating a collapse of our economy?  

Strange world!

I guess there is no more stuff to bore you with so I am done.

Thanks for coming by!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It’s Warming Up In Alberta And What About The Saturday Bath?

Not that we want to compete with temperatures in the South-West of the U.S. but there IS a significant difference between –30 and –14C. As a first sign of such warming trend we had the pleasure of running water again. Now, it might have helped that I had added a little plumbing anti-freeze into the freshwater tank, but the higher temperature must have been the main reason for getting our pump working again.

I was very glad to receive your comments about your very own childhood memories. Especially, I noticed that it seemed to be a common procedure to take a bath only once a week, preferably on Saturdays.

Now, I have tried to find the answer to this custom and came up with this:

Although the popular image of the people of the Viking Age is one of wild-haired, dirty savages, this is a false perception. In reality, the Vikings took much care with their personal grooming, bathing, and hairstyling.

Perhaps the most telling comment comes from the pen of English cleric John of Wallingford, prior of St. Fridswides, who complained bitterly that the Viking Age men of the Danelaw combed their hair, took a bath on Saturday, and changed their woolen garments frequently, and that they performed these un-Christian and heathen acts in an attempt to seduce high-born English women.


Under further research I stumbled upon this text which I took from this blog:


As in a lot of things medieval bathing was by some seen as a form of sexual debauchery and by others seen as letting the devil into you. It was also widely believed that being naked and letting the water touch you would make you severely ill.
At any rate, those that were able to in medieval times bathed more than we thought they did, by most historians standards. It particularly became more popular during the outbreak of the Black Plague. People were looking for reasons why it was spreading and how to decrease the effects, they found that frequent hand-washing in warm water, warm wine and also in vinegar helped. They also found that keeping the surroundings more clean helped too.
I’m also sure that looking, feeling and smelling clean was a bonus not only to yourself but to those around you.
Medieval kings and lords and their household bathed more than most. Some had special rooms set aside for bathing and others bathed in huge tubs brought into their rooms. Filling the tubs took forever as the water had to be gathered, heated and then carried in buckets to their rooms, where it was poured in and mixed sometimes with perfumes, scented oils and flower petals. The ladies were just as lucky.
Because gathering water was so difficult several people may enjoy the bath before the water was thrown out. Especially within the poor. The eldest went first down to the youngest, hence the saying “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water…”
Peasants submerged themselves in water rarely for a bath and were more likely to wash quickly with plain water and a rag and if they were lucky some soap. During warm months they may have slipped away to the river for a dip.

Hand-washing before entering the great hall for a meal was standard. During the crusades, knights brought soap from the East. Prior to that people used water only and the oils from flowers.
In chambers, people had basins of water for washing the face and hands, and maybe a more intimate part of themselves…
Rivers, lakes, ponds, etc… were used to taking dips and rinsing the filth from one’s body.
Soft soaps were made of mutton fat, wood ash, and natural soda. Often they had flowers and herb oils added for a sweet smell, but this was very expensive. Hard soaps were made of olive oil, soda, lime, herbs and flowers.
In some cities they had public bath houses, where people could bathe all day.

Elizabeth I, is said to have had a bath once a month. She herself also restored the bath houses in Bath, England.
During Regency times bath houses and sea bathing became popular. In the homes of the wealthy they bathed in copper tubs lined with linen. The poorer if they had a wooden barrel would bathe in them.
Earlier in the nineteenth century the hands, feet and face were regularly washed as in previous centuries, and the rest of your body every few weeks or longer. However the tides quickly changed.

In some journals you read that children of the wealthy and their parents bathed daily. Some in the summer even bathed twice a day.
For the poor a weekly bath that all the family shared was more common.
It wasn’t until piping became regular sometime in the 19th century for homes to have water brought to them, rather than servants gathering the water themselves.

So, the once-a-week-bath can be attributed to the fact that water had to be carried in, warmed up over a stove and then carried out again. The fact that it often happened on Saturday could be attributed to the Christian belief of going to church on Sundays, even though John of Wallingford believed it to be an un-Christian heathen act.  

And from:

The early Irish considered baths a major part of hospitality, and to not offer a guest the opportunity to bathe, or at least wash hands and feet, was an insult. Irish baths were filled with cold water and then heated by dropping rocks, heated in a fire, into the water. There are some suggestions that such heated rocks may have been used to heat saunas.
Bathing in tubs was done in private homes, in monasteries, and in communal bath-houses, which were very common in cities. In the late 13th century, bathhouses in Paris employed criers to announce when the water was hot. In Gasawa Poland, Duke Henryk the Bearded and Duke Leszek Bialy were attacked in the baths in 1227. By the 15th and 16th centuries, bath-houses in Western Europe had mixed clientele, and by the end of our period of study, the 'stews' had the unsavory reputation as houses of ill-repute we remember.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Childhood Days

I don’t know whether the saying is the same in North America, but back in Norway they could say about an old fart “He’s back in his Childhood Days”.
And it doesn’t mean that someone is turning into a child again after turning a high age. It rather means that people who get older are REMEMBERING their childhood days.
And I think it has to do with the fact that we are, or already have, lost our parents and we are approaching this ripe stage of age where our thoughts are wandering back over decades. It might start out with that we think of all the mistakes we have made, or all the good decisions we made. As we go further back we will approach our childhood and pictures are appearing we never thought would still be part of our memory.

At 62 I have reached that age. And with Christmas coming up there are even more volumes to look at.

Way back, in the fifties our kitchen was still heated with a coal stove. It stood right at the entry door. Besides of the stove there was this coal bucket/funnel. Every day one of us went down 2 stair cases to the dark basement to shovel coals into that bucket, then carry it upstairs. During the day it would be emptied into the stove. My great grandfather didn’t build the house with a central heating system. I guess it would have hardly been available in the twenties. But I do remember the plumbers coming into the house in the sixties to install a central water-based heating system with radiators installed in every room. They brought a lot of steel pipes for the water lines. It meant a whole new world to us. And the old coal stove was carried out of the house and I never saw it again. It was probably sold as scrap iron to a guy who frequented our street with some post-war-built car. He also collected rags of all kind, which we always had plenty of as grandpa ran an upholstery business.

We also had my great-grandma living in our house. Her name was Margarethe. Her husband had founded the business which in her days was run as a saddle maker shop. But times had changed and horses had disappeared from public view. Well, I remember our coals were still arriving by horse-drawn wagon. The coals were stuffed into sacks and the workers carried every sack up our driveway and emptied them over a chute through the basement window. The central heating was still running on coals but was later converted for heating oil, which it is still today.

We lived upstairs and had no bathroom there. As small kids we were bathed every Saturday in a galvanized tub in the middle of the kitchen floor. We hated that! No privacy there! But there was no sense in filing any complaint. Every Sunday morning saw us clean as a whistle.

So where was the “John”? It was the most hated room in our house. It was unheated and 2 stairs down through a cold stairwell. As can easily be imagined it was especially unpleasant on a cold winter morning. There was no prolonged stays in that location. Yet, in those days it was considered a luxury to have it water operated. Before I was born my grandparents had it all outside across the yard. Yep, tough people in those days.

My grand parents were living on the first floor and I loved to go down there and sit with them. Grandpa liked to read a book to grandma and I was listening. When he was finished I pulled out his stamp collections. He had lots of it and got me to start my own collection. I still have his stamps.
Our telephone was one of those black models – the only ones being available. There was no mobile phones and TV was something we first saw during 1962. They were outrageously expensive and only black and white. Once my grandparents had one we kids were hooked. But TV-time started at 5pm with “Kinderstunde” (Kids-hour). And that’s what it was One Hour only! Got that. Now go home to your parents have supper and then off to bed.

That’s how we grew up. We had limits to live after. I still feel those limits when going shopping.